Webinar Report: IT and Technology for effective and secure remote working

On Wednesday 01 April 2020 MM Creative Solutions’ Managing Director, Monica Mwanje, hosted a webinar.  The focus of the webinar was: ‘IT and Technology for effective and secure remote working’.

The Main Speaker

Monica was joined by:

Mike Douglass is Commercial Director at UK-based Yellowbus Solutions. He has worked within and run IT businesses for over 15 years. He has provided IT solutions for established businesses (small and large) and startups. He has excellent understanding of technology and business, and how to synergise them to: enable business growth, add value, and improve productivity. Mike’s current focus is cloud and security technology, within the Nuclear/Engineering sectors.

Monica is the founder and Managing Director of MM Creative Solutions (MMCS). At MMCS she has successfully worked remotely with clients ranging from large global multinational companies to UK SMEs. She has managed their bids and delivered business development and organisational development consultancy outputs. These efforts have helped clients secure business in nuclear and other highly regulated sectors.

Summary of the discussion

Key points raised by Mike

  • Due to COVID-19, remote working at scale has happened. Many organisations (from small to large) were not ready to move to cloud technology.
  • Some organisations are facing the challenge of enabling thousands of their workers to be able to work remotely effectively.
  • We are witnessing digital transformation at scale. Change that would have taken some organisations a number of years, is now happening in the space of days/weeks.
  • When undertaking this digital transformation, it’s really important to look at the technology and that you understand how to leverage it to maintain productivity, maintain security and manage your workforce. Otherwise remote working will not work for your business.
  • Focus on the technology that can help your business.
  • An element of remote working is likely to remain in place once lockdown/movement restrictions are lifted. Take consideration now of what your future working arrangements may look like. Develop a technology roadmap to help your business implement a seamless transition.
  • The 4 key technology areas to focus on are: Productivity, Communication, Collaboration and Security.


  • Understand the applications you will need to help you effectively manage tasks and projects. Examples of task/project management tools include: Basecamp, Asana, Trello, Monday.com, Microsoft Project, Primavera P6 or ActivTrak.
  • Line of Business Applications. These are specific applications a business requires to undertake its work. Every business needs to assess what applications are critical so it can operate, and then determine if the applications can be moved to the cloud.
  • It’s important to determine what hardware users need so they can work effectively from home. Do they require headsets or access to an additional or larger monitor, so they can continue to work on projects in a similar manner to when they were in the office? If hardware provided is to a lesser standard than that in the office, this could result in reduced productivity.

Communication and Collaboration Technology

  • Communication is key. Use of telephone, instant messaging or video conferencing are all alternatives to email.
  • Organisations with hosted telecoms (cloud based) will be able to transition to using soft telephones. Soft telephones provide full functionality reflective of the in-office telecoms system, e.g. direct dial numbers, voicemail etc
  • Instant messaging can aid collaboration between colleagues. Microsoft Teams has its own instant messaging tool. A popular instant messaging tool is Slack.
  • Video conferencing. There are many tools available. Microsoft Teams has video conferencing capabilities. Zoom and Webex are examples of other available platforms. Screen sharing and file sharing is possible within a number of video conferencing platforms.
  • Microsoft Teams, contains a number of collaboration tools. It has voice calling capability, instant messaging, file sharing, amongst other items. For existing Office 365 users, it integrates with Word, SharePoint and Outlook.
  • Loom is a screen capture tool. Loom can be used to record your screen to explain to a colleague how to do something. Loom records the information and then sends a link to the other person so they can view the footage.


  • When people are working from home, they may feel a bit more relaxed and comfortable in that environment; thus security may lapse slightly.
  • When remote working / managing a remote working team it is important to keep cyber security high priority.
  • Potential issues may arise if users attempt to use home devices to access corporate emails / corporate systems.
  • Due to the rapid dispersion of individuals in response to COVID-19 distancing guidance, there’s a risk that users were provided with laptops that may not have been fully security updated.
  • Implement a security plan. Be cognisant of where data is going, police and manage that data to the same standard you would when working in the office. It’s important to ensure when transitioning to cloud systems, that data segregation and access control is maintained.
  • Fearware is another issue to be aware of. Hackers are trying to take advantage of the current global climate. Hackers are increasing ransomware attacks, phishing emails and spam.
  • Cyber security awareness training, weekly calls or weekly information bulletins are tools that can be used to keep your system users aware and informed of potential security risks. Remind users to change their passwords and be vigilant when opening emails.
  • Cyber Essentials guidance can be used to help you create a security remote working from home checklist that can be shared with your teams.
  • Feedback from the checklist can help IT teams to develop an action plan to address any items that are identified as missing or substandard.
  • It’s important to check that antivirus, encryption, two-factor authentication are enabled and up to date.
  • Password policies can be rolled out at a system level to prompt users to change their passwords regularly. With people working from home, they could potentially be using the same passwords across home and work devices. Prompting them to change passwords e.g. every two weeks, can help to maintain security.
  • Two-factor authentication – Most technology vendors now have built this into their systems. However it isn’t always automatically enabled, so it is important to check your settings and switch it on.
  • Backups and disaster recovery, again linked with security and usually falls down the line of priority when panic sets in.
  • Acronis cloud backup is an example of a third party software that can back up e.g. your Office 365. Whilst Microsoft is a robust product, there is fine print within Microsoft that states you are responsible for your own backups. If data gets lost or corrupts in 365 there’s only so far Microsoft can go. Yellowbus always advise that organisations work with a third party backup provider. That way if there is anything happens to your data, you have the option and ability to recover it.

Technology that can aid productivity and wellbeing

  • Brain.fm is AI generated music for focus.
  • Headspace aids mindfulness and meditation.

Technology Vendor Support

During the COVID-19 outbreak, many Tech vendors are offering free services or extended trials to support remote working.

  • MICROSOFT TEAMS – Extended Trial / 6 Month Discount Available
  • WEBEX – Offering 3 Months for FREE
  • ZOOM – Free Plan available
  • ACRONIS Office 365 Backup & Replication – Offering 3 Months for FREE
  • LOOM Free Video / Screen Capture Tool

If you would like to know more, please ask: Michael.Douglass@Yellowbus.uk

Some resources / other information mentioned during the webinar:

  • When choosing a piece of software, check who has access to your data and check where the data centres are located.
  • Duo is a piece of software that can provide two-factor authentication for software that doesn’t have it inbuilt.
  • Mural – is a digital workspace for visual collaboration e.g. whiteboard and post-it notes.
  • For organisations that require additional security for their data, it is possible to set up their own secure cloud system and select where the data centres are.

A recording of the webinar can be viewed here:  IT and Technology for effective and secure remote working

The recording is also available here on the MM Creative Solutions’ YouTube channel; IT and Technology for effective and secure remote working -YouTube link.

Webinar Report: Increasing productivity and maximising wellbeing whilst working from home.

On Tuesday 24 March 2020 MM Creative Solutions’ Managing Director, Monica Mwanje, hosted a webinar.  The focus of the webinar was: ‘Increasing productivity and maximising wellbeing whilst working from home’.

The panellists

Monica was joined by:

Shazney is a coach and corporate consultant who has worked with Accenture and other major firms. She’s a qualified mental health advocate experienced in coaching individuals and groups on the subject of mental health. Shazney is highly experienced at coaching, supporting and maintaining the wellbeing of remote working teams.

Callum is the founder and CEO of Thomas Thor Associates, a recruitment, executive search and HR consulting organisation dedicated exclusively to the global nuclear industry and with offices across Europe, North America and the Middle East.He has a team of 65 people across the globe, all of whom are working from home currently.

Monica is the founder and Managing Director of MM Creative Solutions (MMCS). At MMCS she has successfully worked remotely with clients ranging from large global multinational companies to UK SMEs. She has managed their bids and delivered business development and organisational development consultancy outputs. These efforts have helped clients secure business in nuclear and other highly regulated sectors.

Summary of the discussion

Key points raised by Shazney

  • Mental Health Support. Please reach out to mental health advocates/allies and access the support you need. She also advised for people to be aware of support that is available. For example, organisations may have an Employee Assistance Programme in place. Groups such as the Samaritans and resources such as Hub of Hope are sources of help and support too.
  • Be aware of the roles you are undertaking e.g. are you a parent, employed, a student, homeschooling children, do you have caring responsibilities amongst other things. Think about these different roles and, how much support you are getting. It’s important to think about your physical and mental wellbeing, because that will affect your day to day productivity.
  • Leaders/managers – think about the support and resources you are providing for those in your teams.
  • Be cognisant of the challenges / consequences of working from home e.g. lack of motivation, lack of concentration, a sense of isolation, or you may notice a dip in your creativity. To help combat this, authentic leadership from management is needed. Open discussion and a sense of connection and community can really help boost the workforce.
  • Positive mindset and having a routine can help during times of uncertainty.
  • Managers need to be aware of how to navigate mental health discussions.
  • Strategies to employ to aid your wellbeing whilst working from home:
    • Following a healthy diet can be helpful.
    • Take into account your holistic health. Activities such as yoga, pilates or meditation can be beneficial.
    • Physical exercise get outside (in accordance with permitted guidelines). This can help you feel better.
    • Acknowledge if you are feeling anxious. This will help your mindset which in turn will help your productivity.
    • Sleep hygiene. Apps such as Sleepio can help. Aim for good quality sleep.
    • Plan in advance what you need to help you be at your best, as this will help you avoid feeling overwhelmed.
    • Power hours or a power 30 minutes can make a real difference to your day
    • Hal Elrod ‘Miracle Morning’ SAVERS exercise can help you set yourself up for the day.
    • Implement a structured daily plan. Don’t overfill the list. Have key measurable things you want to get done.
    • Minimise distractions.
  • Leverage your network. Remember it is good to talk.

Key points raised by Callum

  • As a company Thomas Thor Associates already had an element of homeworking, so had invested in the technology to support it over the years.
  • Flexibility in working and working time is one of the key things that motivates job seekers, as they want work life balance.
  • In his company they use videoconference software and they aim to speak on video if they can. The company has a monthly townhall meeting using videoconferencing software.
  • They use Workplace from Facebook to aid communication and collaboration. They have got a wellbeing and homeworking group on there. Callum is actively encouraging contact, talking and building connection to look out for one another.
  • Aim to be flexible to respect peoples’ home situations to enable balance when working from home e.g. people may have children, pets, care responsibilities etc.
  • When Callum first started working from home, he was worried how he would adapt as he is a people person. Having a routine helped. Daily exercise helped. He aims to communicate via video where he can. He has a dedicated office space at home. He aims to avoid unhealthy snacks. Now he is fully at home and not allowed out (due to current lockdown rules where he is based), he is having more contact and more videocall contact with friends and family.
  • Leaders should avoid micromanagement. Now is about giving direction rather than instruction and to trust your team.

Key points raised by Monica

  • When she started working from home, establishing a new work routine helped. Time blocking to structure the day aided her focus, which boosted her productivity.
  • Dedicated workspace is beneficial. Putting her laptop and work things away at the end of the day helps her to switch off work mode. This in turn helps her rest better, which means she is fresh when she returns to her work.
  • Establishing good IT support was key, as this enabled her to maintain focus on her work.
  • Understand what is in your control, acknowledge different thoughts, and use what works for you to help clear your head e.g. going for a walk, deep breathing. Defining what are true priorities helps too.
  • Learn/understand what productivity looks like in your homeworking environment, to enable your best work, to the satisfaction of your clients/management.
  • Seek regular feedback and establish communication routes. Regular communication and check-ins help, as then you can find out if your work/tasks are on track or if you need to course correct rather than worrying about it.
  • Be considerate about when you schedule meetings and when you are asking people to do things by. Everyone will have different routines and different home setups/challenges.
  • Check people know how to use the communication channels/pieces of software you are asking them to use. This eases pressure as they stop worrying about how to use it, this boosts their wellbeing, which in term aids their productivity.
  • If you have a team calendar, have an easy system to indicate when it is ok to schedule meetings. This approach can help to reduce email traffic when trying to set up meetings, which saves time.
  • Be clear on priorities and deliverables. Focus on the outputs. Agree a manageable deadline and then focus on the support/resources the person needs to do the work.
  • Now is about developing the remote management and coaching skills needed to effectively lead your teams. You need to learn and understand what they need from you, so they do their best work whilst their wellbeing is maintained.
  • Check people have the tools and resources to do the work you are asking them to do. Look out for and be aware of their wellbeing.

Some resources mentioned during the webinar:

A recording of the webinar can be viewed here: Increasing Productivity and Maximising Wellbeing Whilst Working From Home.

Webinar: IT and Technology for effective and secure remote working

We are hosting a webinar at 12:00 BST on Wednesday 01 April  2020. We will discuss IT and Technology for effective and secure remote working.

The webinar speaker is Yellowbus Solutions’ Commercial Director,  Mike Douglass.  The IT and technology solutions he has provided for organisations, has enabled them to successfully embrace working from home. Mike will discuss:

* Technology that aids productivity when working from home
* Technology to communicate and collaborate with colleagues when working
from home
* Cyber security whilst working from home

There will also be Q&A.

The webinar will last for 60 minutes and there is no charge to attend.

Download details here: Webinar Flyer – 01 April 2020

Sign up here: webinar sign up

Webinar: Increasing productivity and maximising wellbeing whilst working from home.

We are hosting a webinar at 12:00 GMT on Tuesday 24 March 2020 to help you increase your productivity and maximise your wellbeing whilst working from home.

The speakers will share strategies and answer questions.

The webinar will last for 60 minutes and there is no charged to attend.

Download details here: Updated Webinar Flyer – 24 March 2020

Sign up here: webinar sign up