For many businesses, summer brings a drop in sales and productivity between late December and early January. Once the holiday party hangovers have faded, many offices will close up for one or more weeks. But, who will protect office tech while your team is on the beach with their family or enjoying time with friends?
Lock it away
One of the biggest threats is that someone takes advantage of an empty office to pilfer the hardware. Avoiding theft in the first place comes down to the security of your building and any anti-theft strategies you use with your office tech. The simplest method is just to make sure all laptops and smaller items aren't left on desks when not in use.
Lock up anything you can in secure cupboards or drawers. I don't mean those small sets of drawers found under many office desks. First, the lock on those isn't exactly unbreakable. Second, these office drawers are often small enough to wheel out the whole thing, contents and all. Have a genuinely secure lockup sturdy enough to deter any attempt at breaking in.
Larger items, such as desktop computers, projectors and monitors, can be fastened to desks and fixtures with anti-theft cables. Alternatively, entrapment cases sit over the entire computer, protecting all the components from unauthorised hands. These anti-theft devices can add up when attached to every piece of office tech you have, so this expense needs to be balanced against the far greater cost should the worst happen.
Insure and back up your tech
Naturally, all hardware should be insured and the data backed up off-site (preferably to the cloud). That way, even if every computer and hard drive in the building is absent when you return in January, replacement equipment can quickly be updated to where you left off and services restored with little loss of valuable data. Even if the entire building burns down, your business data will be safe and accessible from your new location and device.
While you're tucking into mince pies, your business could still be humming along. The website is still open for business, with fresh transactions and activities creating new data to be captured, saved and manipulated.
Even though the business may be running on automatic, maintenance may still need to happen. A web-hosting outage or software bug can be just as damaging during the holidays as it can be during business hours. Sometimes important patches or software updates may need to be installed to correct new bugs or prevent security breaches.
There are various automation systems available for larger businesses that allow these routine but essential activities to happen automatically. Predetermined activities or specific events can trigger automated responses across all relevant technologies and devices, following the protocols set up by your IT team. Issues or events that require manual attention and intervention can trigger alerts to mobile phones and emails of the right people. That way, holiday time is only interrupted when absolutely necessary, and not merely to repeatedly check that everything's running okay.
When urgent notifications happen or manual tasks need to be carried out, correct planning should mean there will be no need to cut the holiday short. Make sure the right people have remote access to important systems should problems arise. With a virtual private network (VPN) and mobile technologies, your IT administrator may still be able to log in and correct issues from their laptop without having to trek back to the office.
Of course all of these strategies need to be planned well in advance of the holiday period. Once you're in that Bali beachfront apartment, it's too late to suddenly want remote access because the website went down. Work out contingencies for every possible eventuality beforehand. Make sure everyone knows who will receive urgent notifications and how decisions will be made when everyone is in a different location.
To protect office tech, you need a plan. That plan needs to be implemented in plenty of time. Then you can relax with the confidence that whatever happens, your office technology is protected and ready for your return in the new year.
This article represents the views of the author only and not those of American Express.
Jonathan has worked within, and written about, the technology industry for many years. Before going freelance as a writer in 2012, Jonathan had worked for Netregistry (web hosting) and Ninefold (cloud computing). Jonathan has won awards for his articles on online business for Nett Magazine and his over-opinionated blog Atomik Soapbox. He continues to write for Chief Content Officer magazine.