Imagine a world where we are all required to work remotely, either from home or satellite offices. This is a reality COVID-19 has created for people worldwide in recent months, with users of Microsoft Teams peaking at 75 million as head offices went into temporary hibernation, forcing the bulk of operations to be managed from multiple sources in different regions, States and countries. Thankfully, this huge shift to online coordination didn’t result in heavy disruption for those businesses which already had an efficient cloud-based technology in place. Their shift to a remote working climate was relatively seamless, thanks to the company’s data being stored online as opposed to being reliant on a database of documents stored on various laptops, PCs and office based files.

It was a very different story for those businesses whose data was effectively locked into onsite hardware; transferring files to OneDrive, SharePoint and setting up Microsoft Teams can’t happen overnight and the widespread lockdown had a catastrophic impact for many, with a drastic fall in productivity and profit.

Shifting from an office based to a cloud based environment naturally raises important security issues, with the threat of security breaches, phishing and financial fraud all a genuine concern. This is why Microsoft 365 allows the creation of a highly effective security barrier through Multi Factor Authentication (MFA) to ensure your data remains safe and untouched. MFA is free and easy to set up and adds an important level of security to passwords through the use of push notifications, biometrics, one-time passwords and two-step verifications using mobile phones. Security keys are another option and each of these will ensure there is no loss of sensitive data or the compromise of your company’s identity.

Companies with staff working remotely can enjoy the benefit of encrypting all data through BitLocker and Distribution Key Manager. This includes data from Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, OneDrive for Business and all Microsoft Teams files. With Multi Factor Authentication your data is already safeguarded but it’s reassuring for business owners to know should a security breach occur a hacker cannot interpret the data illegally accessed.

At the height of this worldwide pandemic, Microsoft 365 and especially its Microsoft Teams application, have proved face to face meetings are not as essential as we previously thought. Efficient workforce coordination can be managed effectively online as it allows for secure virtual conversations and team meetings, a smooth exchange of data and effective collaboration. With instant access to online files, your staff teams can share and edit Word documents, PowerPoints and Excel files in real time. In many ways an online cloud-based set up is more accountable than an in-office one as all activity can be tracked and traced to its source, as opposed to the time-consuming task of physically locating a file, the individual holding it and any changes made.

AIP is another cloud-based solution for added security. It provides an extra layer of protection by enabling documents to be classified and labelled by administrators who are free to define the rules and conditions. This prevents unauthorised access and allows for safe collaboration.

Therefore, COVID-19, despite its widespread devastation, has opened up a new world of opportunity for businesses by highlighting the need for a cloud based operation, which will continue to bring endless benefits to company owners long after their staff have returned to the offices to work. Microsoft 365 should be a fundamental base for all business activity, empowering team members through the safe online sharing of sensitive data which is protected by impenetrable security. It may have taken a pandemic to force this sea change, but thanks to sound innovative technology, many companies will emerge the other side of the storm much better equipped to ensure their companies thrive in the future.