How technology can help you handle the holiday season How technology can help you handle the holiday season

Andy Hinxman assesses how to approach business continuity when staff go away for their summer breaks. ​

Emails can pile up for employees when they are on holiday

Emails can pile up for employees when they are on holiday

The holiday season can be difficult to manage from a business continuity perspective, technology can help you stay connected, but there are some important things to consider before you and your employees head off. Here’s a helpful checklist:

Managing your mailbox

A concise out of office reply is the most favoured way of managing emails when someone is away. They must state how long the person is away for (and how contactable they are if at all), and who to contact  in their absence. Some companies also use email auto forwards to appropriate colleagues.

If you’re concerned about your employees being bombarded with emails when they return or taking a peek at them while they’re away when you want them to have a break,  you could consider deleting or filing them and doing a verbal debrief instead.

Ensuring security on devices

If you and your staff have a laptop or tablet which stores company data, whether company owned or not, make sure it’s protected. Passwords should be complex and very secure, made up of a minimum eight alphanumeric characters. You may also want to invest in double authentication if you work with very sensitive data. With Microsoft’s Enterprise Mobility Suite you can remotely wipe devices if they are lost or stolen, and with Azure Rights Management you can double verify users with telephone calls and unique pins.

Likewise, if you’re leaving your terminal at work or at home, have  a strict security policy and don’t leave passwords around the PC on post it notes!

Back up and DR planning on your devices

Remote cloud back up for your laptop or tablet can be useful for disaster recovery planning. Say if you accidentally drop your laptop in the pool ,your company data can be restored on another device. If not already done so, save your data to a cloud storage service like OneDrive, SharePoint or DropBox, or ensure your terminal is backed up. With Office 365 your data is securely stored in the cloud and remains in sync wherever you go.

Insurance and warranties

Remember that warranties and insurance cover the protection of the terminal and not the data on it. There are lots of types available, including options for extended warranties which might be worth considering for regular business travellers.

All terminals must be insured if you are taking them away, and if possible you should keep them on your person. If you’re not planning to use it regularly, keep it in a lockable safe in your hotel room; this may even be a stipulation of your chosen insurance policy.

Avoiding data roaming charges

Avoid a large phone and data bill when you get back by checking  charges  with the phone  provider before you travel. They may offer you a deal, particularly in Europe for data roaming so it’s worth considering how cost effective that might be.

If using data will be expensive, turn it off as soon as you leave the country. Wi-fi is available  in most hotels and the passcodes change daily or weekly for optimum security. There may be a cost involved but it’s probably less than a huge phone and data bill at the end of the month!

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