tips on home working

Tips for home working

The team at Deep Blue have been using remote working for years. With that in mind we have put together some of our top tips for home working for people starting on it for the first time.

The Workspace

Having a workspace is really important. This might not be a room. It may just be a desk or a corner of the kitchen, but it should be a space dedicated for work. This helps you get in the work mind set while you are there but also, crucially, helps you to step away from work at the end of the day. This is especially important if we do have any kind of lock down period. A lot of our time is going to be restricted to the same space so designating areas of that space to different tasks can help us feel less constricted.

Try to make it a space that you want to work in. If possible set up near a window to give yourself plenty of natural light and fresh air. Have a family photo or a plant there just as you would at work.

Try to get everything you need to hand, paper, pens, etc. If you have to keep getting up to get things it can be distracting and time consuming.

The Structure

Structure is important when working from home. It helps you to stay focused and keep the distinction between work and home life.

Get dressed! As tempting as it is to do a few emails in your pyjamas, getting dressed again can help with defining the working day. You don’t need to put on your best office wear but try to find something that makes you feel in work mode. This can apply to the end of the day too. If the first thing you usually do when you get home is get changed into your joggers and sweatshirt then do that when you finish at home.

Plan breaks. It can be easy on your own to lose track of time. Make sure you keep an eye on the clock. Get up and move around, take breaks when you would normally. Plan a lunch hour. If you usually share the task of making tea/coffee in your office, it can be easy to forget when you are on your own.

If you usually make a lunch to take to work with you, you may still want to do this. Just because you are at home doesn’t mean you want to use up your break time prepping food.

The Work

Just because you aren’t in the office, doesn’t mean you need to be cut off from you colleagues. Keep in touch. You may want to do weekly or daily conferences calls so everyone knows what they are doing. Use calls and emails to keep each other up to date. If you have Horizon collaborate, use the instant messaging function to chat in real time. Send through the odd link or funny picture to keep everyone smiling.

It can be hard to tell if someone is struggling when you aren’t face to face with them, regular communication can help with spotting this. If you are the one struggling, speak up. It may be to your manager, it may be to the colleague who always helps you out, it may be to a relative or partner. Just because you are working from home, doesn’t mean you are working alone.

Remember that with emails it can sometimes be hard to judge the tone of what is being said. Try to make sure that your messages come across as intended, use more casual language or emojis for internal emails if this helps with tone. If in doubt, pick up the phone!

If you have children at home with you, don’t get stressed about them interrupting an important call or try to cover up your situation. Be honest. People are very understanding, especially at times like this when everyone is working under different circumstances.

The Benefits

If you usually aren’t allowed within ten foot of the office radio, enjoy being able to put on the playlist of your choice! Music is great for concentration. Vary your playlist depending on what you are doing. you might even want to put together a playlist to share with your colleagues.

If your day usually starts and ends with a commute, use this new found time for you. Throw something into a slow cooker in the morning so you know dinner will be ready when you finish work. Go for a walk and get some fresh air. Workout. Watch an extra episode of you favourite show.

The Transition

The change to home working can be difficult, especially if you have spent a lot of time in the structured environment of an office. Hopefully these tips for home working will help make the transition a little easier.

Deep Blue are on hand to support you and your business when you need us, just call 0333 240 9100 or email theteam@deepbluetelecom.co.uk

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Free Horizon and InBound refresher sessions

For the next few weeks we are running free refresher training for both Horizon and InBound, including portal usage re-training and call plan reviews to make sure you are getting the most from your Deep Blue services. To book one of the free sessions just email rachel.macleod@deepbluetelecom.co.uk

Why voip

Why VoIP? 9 reasons to make the change

Why VoIP? Making changes when you have an established business is always difficult, this is especially true when it comes to something as critical as your telecoms. If you’re not sure whether you are ready to take the plunge with VoIP, here are 9 reasons that might persuade you that now is the time to make the change:

Flexibility

Freedom from fixed lines!

 

Take your numbers with you if you move site with no delays: simply uplift your equipment from one location and connect it in another. Choose your number; select the area code you want to use, set up blocks of numbers, add additional numbers whenever you need them.

Manage more than one business? Control all your calls from one place. Set up numbers and call plans for targeted campaigns and special promotions to track call volumes. Manage calls for your London sales office, your Leeds tech team and your Manchester warehouse all from one online portal.

Managed Transfer

With full training included as part of your setup, Deep Blue make sure that you hit the ground running when you switch to a VoIP system.

Pre-build and test set ups allow you to get your call plans in place before your numbers move. With options to have your telephone numbers migrated at fixed time slots or even out of hours, impact to your business is minimised.

Growth

Fully scalable solutions.

Systems that are designed to grow with your business. Get new staff set up quickly and easily. Adapt your call routing to suit your needs. Move users in and out of hunt groups with a few clicks to manage busy periods and promotions.

Security

 

Built in peace of mind.

Built in fraud protection monitors your call volumes 24 hours a day to keep you safe from potential fraud. Sending out alerts and even automatically applying call barring, it limits your exposure should the worst happen. Multi-layer security protocols and compulsory passcodes close off the hackers most common routes of access.

Features

With a range of features available, even on entry level setups, VoIP solutions from Deep Blue offer so much more. You can build call plans, create Hunt Groups, even create your own auto attendant. As your business grows, so too can your telephony. Call queue features and wall board integration make building your own call centre a breeze.

Need to be MiFID II compliant? No problem! Feature rich call recording keeps your customers and business safe.

By taking advantage of the option to self-manage you can control all your telephony functions in house. No more waiting around for engineers and call out charges.

Continuity

Get disaster recovery that kicks in automatically, rerouting your calls to keep you up and running. No need to rely on the local exchange or your onsite system to divert your calls.

Send calls to mobiles or alternative phone numbers. Change your voicemail message from your mobile or home phone to keep customers informed. Get new equipment delivered the next working day*.

Mobility

 

Free yourself from the desk.

Set up home workers with their own handsets so they can work as if they were in the office. Use desktop soft clients and mobile apps to make and receive calls wherever you are. Ma

nage your DDi with just a few clicks.

Your workplace is wherever you want it to be.

Cost

If your business grows faster than you expect and you need to increase your call capacity, traditional setups like ISDN can throw up all kinds of unexpected costs. Relying on Openreach to install, there are both activation and engineering charges which can quickly mount up. And that’s before you even get into the time costs.

With VoIP solutions from Deep Blue there are no activation fees for new SIP trunks and if you have a compatible set up, they can be up and running in a matter of minutes.

Withdrawal of the PSTN

From 2023, Openreach will stop selling ISDN lines and from December 2025 it is their intention to fully withdraw the PSTN network: ISDN included.

While that gives businesses plenty of time to make the change, when you consider that 16 million lines and channels will need to be migrated to alternative products it’s worth start

ing to look at other options sooner rather than later. That being said, there is no need to panic or rush to make the change (as some providers would have you believe!).

Our article ISDN withdrawal – the key questions answered has more information about the withdrawal and it’s potential impact.

If all of this has got you thinking maybe your business is ready to take the next step then speak to Deep Blue. We’ll go over all the details with you, arrange a site survey if needed and give you all the information you need to make the decision.

new website

New website, same great service

It’s a fresh new look for Deep Blue

We’ve launched our new website, and we’re excited to introduce you to our new look.

Just like our business solutions, it’s full of great features!

We’ve added a range of new content too, including helpful hints and features to keep you up to date with the latest news and releases.

new website
Remote working

Covid-19 and remote working – keep calm and log on

With the thought of Covid-19 on a lot of people’s minds, many business are looking at ways to assist their staff in remote working.

At Deep Blue we pride ourselves at not just providing great products and services but also great support. This is why we are offering the following tips and guidance for remote working.

Horizon

With Horizon, starting to work remotely couldn’t be easier. There are multiple ways your staff can receive their calls at home:

  • If you have a compatible router* and a horizon PSU, you can take your horizon handset home with you. First connect the PSU to power. Then connect your handset’s ethernet cable to one of the ports on the back of your router.
  • You can link each Horizon handset with up to five other numbers using twinning. This allows home workers to receive calls on their Horizon phone, home phone and other devices at the same time.
  • For a small additional charge, users can have a Horizon desktop soft phone. This allows users to make and manage their calls via their computer (available for Mac and Windows).
  • For a small additional charge, users can get the Horizon app on their smartphone (available for Android and iOS). This allows them to not only make and receive Horizon calls on their mobile, but also gives them access to the company directory, their speed dials, recent call details and many other Horizon features.

Horizon Collaborate – 4 month free trial

For next level functionality, you can upgrade your Horizon service to collaborate. Collaborate adds the following features to your Horizon service:

  • Audio and Video calling via desktop and smartphone
  • Personal audio, web and video conferencing with up to 15 users (with both Horizon and non-Horizon users)
  • Room audio, web and video conferencing with up to 15 users(with both Horizon and non-Horizon users)
  • Instant messaging and presence (info on a users status and availability)
  • Service management (call settings)
  • Drag and drop file and desktop sharing
  • Visual Voicemail
  • Address Books/Contact Management

This means your work force can still communicate with each other in real time, collaborate with each other and even host conferences with suppliers or customers, all from the comfort of their own home.

In light of the current Covid-19 situation and the increased interest in remote working, Horizon are currently offering the first four months of collaborate for free to support business in establishing home working.

Because Horizon is controllable from anywhere you have an internet connection you can still manage your calls even if you can’t get to your office. Redirecting them or updating your voicemail message to keep your callers up to date.

The statistics tab on the portal allows you to keep track of calls made and received on each Horizon handset. This lets you know if calls are being missed so you can react to this.

Remote Working

SIP Trunks

These can be forwarded to alternative numbers via the trunks themselves or via your phone system. Customers with SIP Trunk call manager can forward numbers via the call manager portal.

PSTN and ISDN

If you are using PSTN or ISDN, a facility called admin controlled call forwarding can be setup on your lines. This allows you to add and remove forwards on your phone numbers via a handset connected to your line. There is a small additional charge for this service and it typically takes 24 hours for the service to be applied at the exchange.

From protecting workers who may fall into at risk groups. Keeping your business running should staff be quarantined. An alternative for staff with childcare issue should schools be closed. Or just a new way to run your business. Whatever reason is making you consider remote working, Deep Blue are happy to be on hand to support your business.

Whether you are an existing customer or not, please feel free to contact us to discuss what options may be suitable for your business.

* Not all broadband services and routers will work with Horizon. Some routers may use settings such as SIP ALG which can interfere with Horizon.

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Phone Hacking – an unexpected cost to businesses

Think of phone hacking and you probably think of news reports of newspapers gaining access to the phones of celebrities and politicians to gather information. What you may not think of is criminals hacking into the phone systems of businesses.

Once access has been gained to a company’s network, this can be used to illegally route calls, either to make international calls or even to generate revenue from premium rate numbers, all at the expense of the hacked company.

Usually after the companies have closed (often at weekends or bank holidays to help avoid detection) the hackers have gained access to the network and called premium rate (09) and special rate (0871) numbers which they earn revenue from. In some cases this revenue is used to fund organised crime and terrorist activity. Many businesses are unaware that they are liable for any charges generated during these attacks and that getting this money back is a lengthy process.

A case in America that made it to court uncovered an international crime gang that had access to over 2,500 PBX’s and had illegally routed calls to the value of $55million dollars. Another case of note, and probably the most high profile UK victim was New Scotland Yard.

The average call charges faced by a company hit by this type of hacking is £10,000.

As you can see by the figures above, phone hacking is a serious crime and in all cases we advise affected parties to notify the police as soon as the hack is brought to their attention. The called numbers should also be reported to Ofcom and Phonepay Plus.

As with computer hacking, there are measures to reduce this risk of being hit, however as fast as these measures close one door, the hackers find ways to open another.

One of the main ways access is gained is through services such as voicemail which allow you to dial into a network externally, but there are simple steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of this happening. Ensure all ways of accessing your network are password protected (just as you would put a password on your wireless internet network), change these passwords from the system default and ideally update them often, don’t share passwords, make passwords as long and complicated as possible (many hackers have sophisticated methods that can crack passwords 16 digits long) and keep all access codes secure (some victims had calls from individuals claiming to be from telephone companies asking codes to do work on the network or to update their security).

It is also worth considering what kinds of calls you make; does your business need to be able to call premium rate or international numbers? If not, consider call barring features so if your network was compromised, it would be harder for extensive call charges to be built up.

At Deep Blue we take the security of our customers seriously which is why we partner with a number of developers and services to provide additional security to our customers. We use multi level monitoring systems to track call traffic volumes. These alert us and can even automatically apply out bound call barring should suspicious activity be found.

If phone hacking is something you are concerned about or if you would like to discuss this further, please feel free to contact one of our friendly support staff.

New Office

New Office – A moving story

Just imagine: it’s your first day in a brand new office. The desks are in place, the PCs up and running, customers have been informed – but your phones aren’t working. This is a major crisis for any company that depends on calls or the internet for its business.

If you’re moving to a new office, there are 101 things to organise, cancel, pack and arrange but your phone lines and numbers are one problem you can be totally relaxed about.  Deep Blue is experienced in ensuring a smooth transition between locations, taking over the communication with Openreach and ensuring all your services move with you.

With a range of continuity options, project management and experienced support we take the stress (well some of it at least) out of moving office.

Just let us know when you are moving, where you are moving to and which lines and services you will need and we can do the rest. Any additional costs are quoted in advance and we will keep you informed of any engineer visits and installations.  So if you are moving or adding new offices contact us today for valuable advice.

Disaster Recovery

Disaster Recovery – One less thing to worry about

Why is disaster recovery important? Well did you know that 80% of businesses affected by some kind of disaster either never recover or close within 18 months of reopening?

Or that the average time it takes for a business to get back up and running after a disaster is 9.4 days?

Statistics like these are the reason Disaster Recovery is something all businesses should think about.

This is why Deep Blue provide a range of products and services which ensure disaster recovery measures can be put into place quickly and easily. They can be set up in advanced and because they are controlled through an online dashboard, you can manage them from anywhere with an internet connection.

With the Automatic Failover features in Horizon and InBound, you can put measures in place so that if there is a problem with the normal line, such as a fault, outage or damage, the system will automatically divert to your specified failover, such as a mobile or alternative landline.

You can also set up invoked plans so that if your office is rendered inaccessible, such as by heavy snow, roadworks or strike action, you can have your calls routed to another site at the click of a button.

Customers with Horizon or InBound- Contact Pro also have the option of setting up a staff emergency number, which can be used to inform of the effects of any disaster. If your area is affected by something such as flooding or heavy snow, you can set up a recorded message on the emergency line which staff can then listen to, to find out if your site is open before making the journey there. This is also a useful tool for schools who can set the number up for parents to ring.

Disaster Recovery measures allow you to prepare for many of the obstacles that can hinder the running of your business. Floods and heavy snow are now common features of winter and cost businesses millions of pounds every year, severe roadworks and strike action which impede staff getting to your site can bring your business to a standstill. But with features rich hosted telephony you are always prepared.

Contact us today on 0333 240 9100 for a complete review of your company’s disaster readiness.

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Stay Scam Safe with our top tips

Telephone scams, which target both business and residential customers, are always a nuisance. Here are some top tips to help you stay scam safe:

Stay Scam Safe

Don’t get caught out

Don’t trust the number on the display

Scammers are able to present numbers to make it appear like they are calling from the company they are claiming to call from. A legitimate company will always be happy for you to end the call and call them back.

If you answer a call and it is an automated message giving you the option to press a key to call back: don’t!

You have no way of verifying what number you will then be connected to. This leaves you unable to verify if you are being connected to the organisation or company that the call claims to be from. You may also end up with a large bill – many scams use this method to route you on to a premium rate number which generates charges that go straight into the scammers pockets.

If you do decide to call a company back, ideally call from an alternative number

If this is not possible then it is best to wait a while before using your line to dial out. Scammers have been known to keep lines open so you think you are dialing out to the legitimate organisation, but instead are still talking to them. They have even been known to play dummy dial tones down the line.

Never allow these callers to talk you through installing anything on your computer

Deep Blue and many other companies do, on occasion, use remote desktop facilities to carry out work on customer’s behalf. We will never contact you out of the blue to do this. This is only ever done on a prearranged basis. If remote works are needed we will agree a date and time with you in advance and give you details of the engineer who will be contacting you.

Deep Blue will never call you asking for immediate payment over the phone

If an invoice should fall overdue we will send notification to the registered accounts contact advising them of this, along with details on how they can pay.

Deep Blue will never threaten to immediately cease your service due to payment or usage issues.

We always endeavour to work with our customers to resolve issues before they reach the point of having their service suspended. On the rare occasions that we do have to suspend a service we always provide written notice of this before it happens, along with details of how to prevent this from happening.

Use the resources available to you to Stay Scam Safe

If you are using a landline: make sure you have registered for TPS. This can’t stop all nuisance calls getting through to you but it can reduce the number. For customers on the Horizon platform, the blacklist can be used to block nuisance numbers. Check with your provider to see what kind of fraud protection services they have in place. At Deep Blue we work with our carriers to provide a range of added safety services on our lines as standard. These services monitor your call traffic and can alert us to any suspicious activity. They can even automatically apply temporary call barring to limit your exposure should you get hacked or scammed.

To discuss your telecoms, contact us at theteam@deepbluetelecom.co.uk or on 0333 240 9100. If you would like to know more on how to stay scam safe, the Met police have a number of resources available like their Little Booklet of Phone Scams.

 

All that's left to say

All that’s left to say….

The Christmas jumpers have been worn, the festive call plans activated and our little Elves have now gone home. So all that’s left to say is…..

A very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year to all of our customers!

We will be back in the office on Thursday 2nd January ready to hit the New Year with a bang. Whatever your Business’ Resolutions are, Deep Blue will be here to help you and your business shine!

All that's left to say