Much has been made about the possible effects on IT during the Olympic Games. The government is warning internet services and mobile networks maybe slower and businesses are being encouraged to allow flexible working from home.
Preparing your company for the Olympics is not just an issue for businesses based in London. The knock-on effects will be felt across the country as well as areas where the Games are taking place in other parts of the UK.
Here’s a checklist to help make sure your IT systems are fit for the Olympics:
- Contact your Internet Service Provider (ISP)
Get in touch with your ISP to learn their plans for the Games - do
they expect problems? Ask if they’ve got contingency plans in place and
whether they intend to introduce restrictions on bandwidth during the
Olympic period. You could also think about an upgrade to your internet
connection before the Games start.
- Do you have the right technology?
If only 5% of staff work remotely at the moment, could you support an increase to 50% or possibly more? Prior to the Games, it’s worth testing your computing resources and internet capacity (as well as checking software licences), to see if your company can cope with more people working from home. You could find it’s worth adopting in a good Virtual Desktop Infrastructure(VDI) solution, which will run efficiently even over reduced bandwidth.
It sounds obvious, but rather than adopting a ‘see how it goes’ approach, determine who is better off working from home before the Games start. Rather than key members of staff arriving late for work due to transport congestion, set up a priority list of users and organise a secure, remote working option for all of them.
Employees who frequently work from home will probably use a laptop provided by the company. However, if more staff work remotely during the Olympics, do they have the right devices to work efficiently? For all the talk about BYOD (Bring Your Own Devices), employees might not be as productive working from a tablet as with a laptop or desktop.
If employees’ home computers and smartphones are connected to company networks, they should be password protected as a minimum requirement. Additionally, look at security on removable storage media such as USB sticks. Either make sure the removable devices are encrypted or use a software package which locks down all ports and prevents data leaving your office domain or network. Remember that failure to comply to the Data Protection Act could result in a fine of up to £500,000 for your organisation.
Some staff members might always have had the capability to work remotely but hardly ever do. Make certain, well in advance, that everyone can remember their passwords and the procedures to log in from home.
If employees are going to work remotely, check that you have contact numbers for them. If you get problems with the internet connection at the office, you might need to call them at home. Remember to include landline numbers, where appropriate, as mobile networks could also be affected by heavy usage expected during the Games.
- Disaster Recovery (DR) Planning
During the Olympics, the government expects the threat level in London to be severe. Security issues are likely to create disruption and trigger evacuation procedures, which could in turn affect access to office premises. Most of the issues concerning businesses during the Olympic period are about preparing for continuity of business rather than recovery from a terrorist attack or security incident. However, for those organisations based close to the Games’ sites, they should have a contingency plan in place to provision for a physical disaster.
- If you can’t beat ‘em - join ‘em
Any company wanting to watch the Olympics coverage on television or the iPlayer will need to have a TV licence. However, if large numbers of employees try to video-stream the Games online at work, they will use up a huge amount of bandwidth. Businesses could consider web content filtering during the Games or simply embrace the event and accept that people will want to watch the coverage. Take the initiative and either provide a television or set up a single video-stream on a communal screen so everyone can watch the big events together - it’ll create a great atmosphere and give everyone a chance to enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to watch the Olympics in the UK. It’ll also make the boss very popular!
By Oscar Arean, Technical Operations Manager at Databarracks
, a provider of managed IT disaster recovery services and online backup.