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Working From Home: Licensing Considerations

Microsoft Teams has seen a 500% increase in usage since the start of the Covid 19 Outbreak, as many companies and schools turn to it to keep in touch with their colleagues and get work done. This has been helped by Microsoft’s commitment to make the basic version of Teams, and the other Office 365 apps, available to everyone for free (see https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/blog/2020/03/05/our-commitment-to-customers-during-covid-19/)

If you already have Teams (and many companies/schools will do, as it’s part of the Office and Microsoft 365 Suites), you can exploit many more of features though, as you’ll have access to the desktop and mobile versions of the app. These enable better audio and video integration, and are generally snappier than the web version, as well as providing more layout and customisation options for the experienced Team user.

As well as providing a useful way for employees to work together, Teams can also be used to meet with guests – external users, for example customers, suppliers or partners. They don’t need to have a Teams licence and can simply join a Teams meeting using a link.

Audio Conferencing add-on

For including employees/guests that don’t have access to a suitable device, or perhaps aren’t tech-savvy enough to download an app, Teams meetings can also be joined using a phone number (for audio only meetings, like a traditional conference call). This is an add-on available for free as part of the Office E5/Microsoft E5 suites, or can be added to any existing Office/Microsoft 365 user. Only the user organising the meetings with audio (dial-in) conferencing needs the add-on – and you can either have a local number (e.g. 01604 xxx-xxx for Northampton), bring your own number, or use a standard-rate number for international attendees, so that someone dialling in from abroad would call a country-specific number for them, so they are not incurring international rates. You can even set up rate-free numbers (where you pay for the call charges) for when you are hosting meetings with customers for example.

The same applies for using Teams for outbound calls – It’s a bit more of a complicated setup, but if your employees are currently using personal mobiles to make company calls, it may be a solution worth investigating – again it starts with just an licence add-on.

BYOD Security

As mentioned above, not all employees will have access to a company device while working from home and may be using their own device to access company resources and data. This presents a new set of risks that may not have been considered in the rush to get users productive again. Thankfully, the security features available in Microsoft 365 – an easy upgrade from Office 365 – will “retrofit” users own devices with security and compliance policies to ensure sensitive data is not compromised. For example, by ensuring company emails are only opened in Outlook, and attachments only saved to OneDrive, on encrypted storage.

Switching Licences

These are two examples of upgrades/add-ons that can be made to improve productivity, collaboration and security. However, there will be many companies in the opposite situation – having furloughed workers or needing to reduce costs, what can you do with underused Microsoft licences?

Customers using a CSP (such as Fuse) should contact their support partner to discuss the options. For furloughed workers, or indeed anyone unable to use their desktop apps, switching from Office Premium/E3 to Basic/E1, will reduce licensing costs while maintaining the employee’s data and access to email for example. Fuse have no minimum contract lengths or quantities, so our customers can switch at any time – check with your provider first, or consider migrating your licences to Fuse if this isn’t the case.

About the author

Fuse

Fuse is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, based in Northampton. We help organisations of all sizes to maximise IT efficiencies through the use of Microsoft cloud computing solutions.

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