Author Archives: Scott Magee

Top Tips For Post Pandemic Business Communications

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A BBC business news headline this week highlights ‘… UK inflation to five-year low.’ So what does it mean for your business? Can you take advantage of new technology while prices remain steady?

Deciding to move your business communications to the cloud can be a daunting prospect. Why be the person responsible for changing systems – right? However, at times of low inflation and high staff redundancies, perhaps your senior management team need to future proof your business. Moving to cloud computing is simpler than you might think. Here are our top 5 business benefit advantages.

Eliminate Risks of Replacing Systems

Replacing out of date systems is operationally risky and expensive. But with a cloud solution, you can expect all updates and upgrades with your subscription. You can enjoy the peace of mind of predictable costs, regular updates and system performance without replacing systems. Think of an extra pair of hands at low cost & low-risk.

Eliminate Risks

Improve Security and Resilience

While physically having your IT systems in one place might feel more secure, government statistics say otherwise. The Home Office Cybercrime review of the evidence: Research (Report 75) found that businesses hacking experiences often go unreported. It states: ‘…regarding damage to reputation from cyber crimes and a desire to avoid publicity of any problems.’ Cloud providers are safe hands for cloud security, encryption, active service monitoring and more. And another bonus is cloud computing, disaster recovery. Automatically including failover to another data centre for your SIP Trunks and a full backup of your system to another server is the ultimate reassurance. Restoring to another cloud service provider is an exceptionally resilient disaster recovery scenario.

Reduce Capital Expenditure

Communications systems are expensive, so why pay more? Traditional hardware and software systems require server hardware, network solutions, IT administrator staff and network specialist staff costs on top. Adopting cloud strategies are generally cheaper and could save you as much as 80% off your phone bill as well. And with reliable WebClients and Apps for mobiles, it’s worth checking how much more you’ll save with your existing business smartphones.

Reduce Capital

Access More Productivity Features

Consolidating communications with colleagues and customers improves productivity. Look at easy integration with other software platforms such as Customer Relationship Management systems, PMS or IoT systems. Allow your managers to coordinate product enquires, sales, online bookings, payments, and reporting – all from one central place.

Connect Remote Workers

If you lack a direct connection to remote workers, you are limiting the benefits of employees on the move. Moving your systems to the cloud removes location boundaries and increases productivity. Any destination with an active connection can receive call traffic just as easily as an office phone.

Connect Remote Workers

If you want to find out about the extensive range of products available from Cirrus ITS, the features and benefits of a 3CX implementation, or the flexible lower rate monthly Microsoft 365 subscription, then please get in touch by emailing


Microsoft Business 365 – Here is what you need to know

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Microsoft 365 is the new name for the Microsoft Office 365 monthly subscription plan designed to help you achieve more. Innovative Office apps, intelligent cloud services, and world-class security bring your content together for a seamless organisation.

With a Microsoft 365 subscription, you can collaborate with your team members, customers, and suppliers, access your application and data from anywhere. Latest features are continuously updating and evolving.

Name Changes

Microsoft announced their latest product name changes for the small and medium-sized business Microsoft Office 365 Subscriptions plans in April 2020.

Many people are still getting confused by the name changes, so we have listed the basics below:

New NameOld Name
Microsoft 365 Business BasicOffice 365 Business Essentials
Microsoft 365 Business StandardOffice 365 Business Premium
Microsoft 365 Business PremiumMicrosoft 365 Business
Microsoft 365 AppsOffice 365 Business & Office 365 ProPlus*

* Where necessary Microsoft will use the “for enterprise” label to refer to ProPlus.

Plans & Pricing

If you choose to purchase directly from Microsoft, they currently offer two payment options. A lower option if you take an annual commitment or a higher if you want the flexibility of a month by month subscription. You must pay by Credit Card.

If you chose to purchase from us at Cirrus IT Services (a Microsoft Partner), we pass on savings to our customers. The licenses we buy from a Cloud Service Provider enable us to match the Microsoft annual commitment price AND offer monthly flexibility. With Cirrus IT Services, you can give just 30-days’ notice to flex up and down your product license requirements. You can also pay by Direct Debit or by Credit Card.

M365 Plans


Cloud Services

Moving Providers

Existing Microsoft Customers

Changing providers is a little like changing Gas or Electricity providers; the only thing that changes is the company that invoices you.

Microsoft 365 Business or Enterprise account (Not Home Editions) have a Tenant – your own private Microsoft 365 Management console –  where your account, data and settings live.

As a Microsoft Partner, we can easily take over any existing Microsoft 365 Tenant with no disruption. Hence, you’re safe in the knowledge that you are not tied to any provider. You can switch as required without losing any data or having to go through any downtime or reconfiguration.

New Microsoft Customers

If you do not already have a Microsoft Business Tenant, they’re easy to set up. As Microsoft Partners, we have tools available to easily import email from other providers to make the transition as smooth as possible.

Microsoft also offers lots of excellent simple training videos and guides on how to make the most of your Microsoft 365 Subscription.

If you want to find out more or take out a Microsoft 365 subscription, please get in touch by emailing

3CX – Why should you believe our hybrid 3CX model is better?

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Why should you believe our hybrid 3CX installation is better than a standard 3CX model? The answer is simple. We are careful to provide the benefits that matter most.

We think that having more than 99.95% of connectivity up-time is important. Your data matters; your disaster recovery plan is essential.

In times of economic uncertainty, there is no excuse for poor reliability or poor customer service. Giving your business the best communication systems has never been more critical.

Before we tell you about popular standard 3CX features, there is a long list of exclusive 3CX benefits that we love. And before you think all this comes at a cost, you may be pleased to learn that low price matters too.

Our experience comes in handy. There are advantages and disadvantages to having your phone system hosted in the cloud, so we have developed a hybrid 3CX model that makes the best of all options.

  • Our 3CX Systems are all hosted in a 3CX Certified UK Datacentre that has a connectivity service level agreement (SLA) of at least 99.95%, to keep you connected.
  • All 3CX instances are backed up every night to a different location for disaster recovery purposes. Restoring to any location can be an option for our customers.
  • All 3CX customers have their own 3CX instance, we do not multi-tenant customers so you’re not directly affected by any issues that another customer may have or any “system-wide” outages or platform maintenance.
  • Each customer site has a 3CX Certified SBC (Session Border Controller) that offers a secure connection (like a VPN) between the Site and the Datacentre, for privacy and protection.
  • Each Site SBC (Session Border Controller) offers encryption of all traffic between the Site and the Datacentre over a single port making Firewall and Quality of Services setup more straightforward and much more secure.
  • All our Engineers are 3CX Certified and UK based.
  • We are not tied to a single handset manufacturer so we can select the best option for your requirements and can offer Paging, Public Address, Loud Ringers, Video and Voice Intercoms and access control that is all 3CX Approved and certified to work seamlessly with your system and handsets.
  • Our SIP trunks are geo-resilient, with two connections to different geographically located Datacentres. So if one has a problem, we failover to the other, you continue to make and receive calls.SIP Trunks Diagram
  • Our SIP Trunks all include calls so that you can save a fortune on phone bills – fair usage policy applies.
  • If you take our SIP Trunk Direct Dial Numbers, we also offer Inbound Text to Email on your main number for streamlines administration.
  • Our SIP trunks are all on a 30-day rolling contract, so no long-term tie-ins and just a 30-day notice to cancel. Try the system with confidence!
  • We offer a Multi-Network SIM card option to connect to the strongest UK provider signal wherever you are. Used in any mobile, it converts a phone system extension anywhere with a mobile signal, no app required. It doesn’t even have to be a smartphone! Another example to show you that working with us doesn’t come with the highest price tag.

And on top of everything we have mentioned so far, here is a list of standard 3CX features:

  • 3CX is a software-based PBX (Private Branch exchange) or Telephone System. Just about anything is compatible, whether that’s a Micro PC that sits on a desk, a Virtual Machine running in a Datacentre or a customer-specific infrastructure.
  • The flexibility of 3CX means you can provide the right size system for your business, whether that’s just two extensions or a call centre with 10,000 agents.
  • The 3CX offer is so much more than telephony. Unlike many other communications systems, you don’t have to keep paying extra to add features. You pay a low annual license fee that includes all options, except for a few top-end enterprise features like inbuilt failover and standby licenses. We can show you the most up-to-date edition comparison list online.
  • A 3CX Professional License includes Video Conferencing, CRM Integration, Unlimited Extensions, iOS & Android Apps, Call Recording and much more.
  • 3CX also supports many different Manufacturers Handsets and Devices from Standard Desk Phones and cordless phones to Loudspeakers, Paging Systems and voice and video intercoms.

It can be challenging to select the right combination of options for your scenario. Again, this is where our experience and flexible approach comes in handy.

To find out more, get a quote or arrange a demo, email us at


Why is an MSP Contract Better than Insurance?

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Many describe a Managed Service Provider (MSP) or Managed Service Support Contract as an insurance policy for IT equipment. The truth is that a good MSP Contract is so much more than an insurance policy.

An MSP contract is a fixed-term monthly fee covering support for any technology equipment specified.

As your plan will cover you for the support needed to rectify tech problems, it is similar to an insurance policy.

With insurance, however, if nothing happens throughout the policy term, you don’t have anything to show for your money. You only see the benefit when you have a problem. But why would you want issues or problems to get value for money?

With an MSP contract, you don’t need problems to start seeing real value. Right from the start and throughout the policy term, you get all the software licences you need for each product covered.

Our MSP package includes Remote Monitoring and Management, Mail filtering and a Security Suite including Firewall, Antivirus, Antimalware, Content Filtering, Device Control, Network Protection and more.

Your MSP provider should pro-actively work in the background to prevent issues before they occur.

For example, our Mail Filter protects from Spam and includes two different Antimalware Engines. Adding layers of security for inbound and outbound mail makes practical sense.

All our MSP customers receive regular updates. The entire protected inventory list of checks carried out regularly on each device is reported on a regular basis.

There are two types of checks, frequent recurring checks and daily safety checks.

The daily safety checks examine each machine and verify that the security software is operating and up to date. A critical events log monitor alerts you to failed login attempts, your physical disk health status and more.

Frequently recurring checks can run as often as every 5 minutes. Checking for available disk space, monitoring performance, watching critical services on machines an automatically, restarting if necessary and providing data on missing patches and updates are examples of the support provided.

The latest technology reduces security risks with optimal cybersecurity.

All our MSP customers have an agreed Service Level Agreement (SLA) and a help desk system accessible by email, online or by telephone.

If you are the allocated administrator for a company MSP contract, you will be able to log in to our help desk portal to view all tickets logged by your employees. A full audit trail of the life of each ticket shows you – with transparency – precisely what you’re getting for your monthly subscription fee.

Our Managed Service employees are expert, highly qualified and experienced. They only give you the best possible service. They are up to date with industry techniques to update your IT, make sure that you have secure networks infrastructure and that you are happy with the service that you receive.

Outsourcing your IT services allow you not only to save money but in the long-term to streamline monthly costs.

We work closely alongside you, offering quick response and proactive support every time you need it. If you realise the importance of appropriate technological infrastructure to manage your information successfully, then an MSP is for you.

As you can see, an MSP contract is so much more than insurance. It gives you complete peace of mind at an affordable fixed, predictable monthly cost. To find out more contact us at

What’s the best way to back up your work?

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Millions of remote workers throughout the UK are asking the question, ‘What’s the best way to back up your work?’ A simple, reliable backup is more critical than ever.


Do you use SharePoint already? If you do, that’s great! You can store your documents and data just as if you were at your business premises.

Organisations configure SharePoint (integrated with Microsoft Office 365) to manage content, knowledge, and applications. Secure sharing helps teamwork and efficiency. The seamless collaboration of backed up data allows for productivity benefits. Data is available to authorised personnel using PCs, Macs, and mobile devices.

Data Security

If you are using a company PC, Mac or mobile, then it’s slightly easier to remember to back up your device as you would at the office. You can either use your VPN connection or your remote desktop.

If however, you are using one of your own devices for work, be extra careful.

Only use encrypted Wi-Fi for business data. Do not use Wi-Fi that is open for all to access. If you’re working from home, make sure your home Wi-Fi network is secured – all home routers support encryption.

Use strong authentication to access your device. Now is a good time to think about the passwords you use. It’s a good time to upgrade to secure your passwords. Make sure each device that you use is up-to-date. Security updates are important. Also, install the latest versions of antivirus and antimalware programs. Make sure that your data security protection software is actively running. Use a modern browser, and make sure you’re running the latest version.

Store your files in a secure cloud location. Your laptop, your local drive or removable media might not be safe enough. Make sure that if you save to a synchronised back up storage service like DropBox or OneDrive that you don’t download a copy of sensitive files to your home computer.

Check that you have the tools and security protection that your company demand. Check your company Information Security Policies. Keep your company data safe at all times.

Whenever possible use web versions of apps, such as Word, Outlook, and Excel. When you use the web versions, your data stays on the server  – not your local device.

Stay in touch

Stay in touch with your company IT services team while you work remotely. There might be new tools for you, or they may need your help. If you don’t understand something, then ask. If you suspect compromised data, notify your IT support staff immediately. Limit the damage by starting an investigation quickly.

Be Vigilant

Now more than ever is the time to be vigilant. Resist the temptation to store data offline on your own devices. Review and get approval for your data back up processes. Ask your IT services team or escalate to your line manager if you are not sure what to do.

Planning for the new normal

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Preparing for recovery

Now is a perfect time to start preparing for recovery with the end of lockdown in sight. Consider this week as one of the last few self-isolation weeks, so that you can bounce back when things begin to return to some form of normality.

Company managers are thinking about cutting costs without cutting corners. Is your goal to increase functionality while making costs savings? Many businesses have seen a negative impact from the COVID-19 Pandemic. Perhaps businesses producing toilet rolls and hand sanitiser are poised to start spending on diversifying to achieve further growth! Most are looking to evaluate their ongoing monthly expenditure.

How we can help


Discover how to make changes to your business IT infrastructure & communications for future value and success.

Our communications solutions can save you up to 80% on your telephone bills. There are no upfront costs on a 3-year agreement, so you can start saving straight away.

With a unique to the UK implementation of the 3CX unified communications system, we offer one of the most feature-rich and easy to use options currently available.

3CX gives you access to features like Web Conferencing, Remote Classroom, Remote Training, and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) integration so you can start to work smarter and more efficiently from anywhere. Intelligent apps on your own choice of smart devices can keep your communication lines open wherever you are. There is no need for additional equipment. We help you set up the 3CX App for your Android or iOS phone or tablet, so you’re good to go!

IT Support

Cirrus IT Services (UK) Limited have offered an all-inclusive managed service product for many years.

Our customers will tell you how our product gives complete protection and support to their businesses. Eliminating unexpected high bills with clear, consistent, and predictive costs allow for better cash flow management. While many businesses in our area have copied a service structure model in the last five years, they charge for extra things like reconfiguring a phone for remote working (at £50 a time). We most certainly do not! We know how to offer customers the best value and will continue to do so.


Who better to provide cost-saving cloud-based services for you? For example, you can get Microsoft 365 from us on a monthly subscription that costs less than buying directly from Microsoft! Cirrus ITS focus on cloud-based services (hence the cirrus cloud name).

Cloud-based Virtual Machine backup solutions are from just £7.50 a month – per VM and cloud desktops and infrastructure of all sizes depending on need. Gain the advantage of predictable monthly costs. Cloud-based services are always up-to-date with the latest features. With little or no capital expenditure, you are up and running quickly.

Why us?

The Cirrus IT Services team are proud to receive 100% positive feedback from customers every month.

100% customer focus allows our customers complete peace of mind. Most new business arrives via recommendations.

You can review our prices knowing that we only sell (or recommend) products suitable to your individual business needs.

We offer a single point of contact for your Cloud, IT & Communication needs so that you can focus on your business. We’ll be your trusted partner in helping you develop and improve your infrastructure. We take responsibility if you have any issues and resolve them within agreed SLA’s.

Have a look at some of our recommendations and case studies online for more information.

If you would like to start a conversation on how we can help your business thrive, please email us at

We’re here when you need us

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Responsible businesses like ours are following UK government advice and working from home. Luckily for us, the extended lockdown period (due to the COVID-19 pandemic) doesn’t pose any real changes to our working week.

Operating IT services & IT support via cloud-based systems makes remote working more accessible. Rather than talking face to face at our desks, we’re chatting on Microsoft Teams.

Some of our customers required a lot of help to set up home working for the first time. Despite the massive increase in workload over the last few weeks, the Cirrus ITS team has responded very well. Helping all of our existing customers – without extra charges – has been our way to support local businesses throughout the economic uncertainties. Some of our competitors have charged up to £50 to configure handsets for home working!

The volume of new support requests is now reducing. Our ticketing system is working well, and we’re very much back to business as usual. If you need help during this challenging time, then please do contact us by email, phone or online chat. We are here when you need us most!

Keep checking our Blog and Social Media posts as we publish news, information and tips regularly.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank all key workers and NHS staff. We are very grateful to everyone who is working tirelessly to allow us to stay safe and stay indoors.


Working from home? Don’t drop your guard!

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Most of us will by now have settled into a daily “work from home” routine. Things may be starting to feel slightly less alien as working from home becomes “the norm”.

Unfortunately, we have seen an increase in reports of spam and phishing emails, as fraudsters take advantage of people’s insecurities and confusion. Fake account holders try to access personal or login information in many different ways.

Please remember these fundamental questions to ask yourself if you receive an email you are not sure of:

  • Do you recognise the sender?
  • Does the From Name match the From Address?
  • Does the email ask you to provide information that you should not divulge by email?
  • Is there an attachment that you did not expect?
  • If you recognise the sender, does the content match the style and format the sender usually uses?
  • If there are links in the email, do not click them. Instead, by positioning your mouse over the link text (without clicking any links), you can see where they lead. Are you confident that each link is genuine?

If you recognise the sender but are not 100% sure, check with the sender by telephone before opening. Please use the company’s advertised number, not the number in the questionable email as that might be a fake.


Here is a real example of a Phishing email received this morning and another fraudulent email that somebody received last week to show you how to spot them as fakes:

Example 1 – Phishing Email


My Office 365 Services are on a Microsoft Office 365 platform, provided by Cirrus IT Services (UK) Limited.

If you look at the “From” name, the name displayed is “Notify scott.magee” but the actual sender address is as seen in the angular brackets:

Hovering over the “CANCEL REQUEST” button in the email reveals a fake link preview, not a safe Microsoft or Cirrus IT Services website.

Example 2 – Fraudulent Email


Fake emails should set off your alarm bell straight away. The subject is, “Congratulations.. Open attachment below for more details.” about a lottery win, from no visible sender and sent to “Recipients” rather than showing the recipient name.

Do not open attachments and delete, or mark as spam.

There are some even more sophisticated scams and fraud emails in circulation that are harder to spot. But, if you follow a few steps, you will be able to identify most of them as fraudulent before they do any damage.

Layered Security

You should use layered security wherever possible.

Scanning mail with a reliable mail filter as it arrives, checks for viruses and known threats. Perceived threats are stopped, and you are given the option to review and release them from a secure environment without clickable links or attachments.

The next layer of security should be a gateway firewall, either as part of your router or – for larger organisations – a separate appliance.

Antivirus software is another layer of protection. Choose a different security provider to the mail filter to maximise your chances of the software engine recognising the threat and stopping it.

If your antivirus does not include a firewall, then you should also be using a local machine firewall or the inbuilt Windows Firewall.

It is important to remember that there is not any single software or hardware solution available that will fully protect you from all threats. The most common way for a fraudster to obtain information from you is to fool you into providing them with information. Gaining access to your data can cause financial damage or harm your reputation. The techniques are becoming ever more advanced.

If you follow the advice in this guide, you will be able to prevent most of these attempts.

If you are not sure, verify first before opening any attachments or clicking on any links.

VPN’s are great BUT they are not perfect for everyone

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Most regular remote workers will connect back to their office using a VPN to access resources on the company’s local network.  These are usually reliable but during the current pandemic, almost everybody wants to use one and it’s not always the best or most reliable solution depending on your setup and circumstances.

What is a VPN?

A VPN is a Virtual Private Network, put simply it’s a secure connection (usually referred to as a tunnel) made over the internet. Basically, a secure network connection established over an insecure network.

VPN’s are usually quite easy and quick to setup when everybody uses the same protocols and settings and connect over the same or similar networks.

The problems we are seeing is that many suddenly faced with using these for the first time are using lots of different devices requiring lots of different protocols and have differing expectations on how it should work.

Ideally you should simply establish a connection, then open the resources you need BUT, remember when you’re sat at your desk and accessing a resource on the network, you are likely to have a connection speed of around 100 to 1000Mbps.  With a VPN Connection you may only have a 5, 10 or 15Mb connection if you’re lucky so IT IS NOT GOING TO BE ANYWHERE NEAR AS QUICK!

You also need to factor in that the internet is currently under much more pressure than usual with so many people working remotely and many people including kids streaming movies and playing online gaming which all reduced available bandwidth and increases contention.

Most home broadband connections are contended so they are shared with those around you using the same cabinet and infrastructure.

There are many articles online about the current internet pressure like this one:

There are also many problems that can affect a VPN such as:

Many users using different devices to connect may need different protocols enabling or configuring. Changing this for one user’s device can stop others devices from working.

You can and do end up with people using tablets, computers, smart phones, chrome books etc, all using different hardware devices and connection to try and connect back to one device that has to be able to service requests from all of them.

Sub-Net clashes

Many people use the same IP range at home and at work so the VPN can struggle working out what is local and what is remote.

Router based restrictions

Some routers like those used by TalkTalk have built in protection that can interfere with remote access software and VPN’s.

Some shared working spaces will not allow some VPN protocols over their access points.

iPhone Hotspots no longer pass PPTP traffic over their connections (Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol) this is a recent change that stopped many VPN’s working overnight!


Using a VPN adds security but will also reduce throughput speed.  On a contended circuit, this may be significant enough to stop it working reliably.

What other Options are available?

Remote desktop access using third-party tools offer a free trial of their remote access software that allows you to control your desk PC from anywhere with any device and does not require a VPN.

Office 365

You can use the Web Based applications to access your files and email without a VPN.

You can use office tools like SharePoint and OneDrive to access documents direct from the cloud with no need to connect back to the office.

Handy Tips

Ofcom have released an article on their website with tips on helping the work from home experience:

If you need any more help, please contact us:

Contracted customers:

Non-Contracted Customers:

First Toilet Rolls, then Hand Sanitizer, now Laptops are disappearing fast…

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In these unprecedented times we have seen our supermarket shelves emptied of Toilet Rolls and Hand Sanitizer and now due to the demand of home working solutions, we’re seeing a shortage of Laptops for businesses from all of our usual suppliers.

The demand to work from home has been massive and we have not been able to supply laptops to some of our customers due to a lack of stock.

There are still laptops on sale in some places like Curry’s and PC World BUT these will rarely have the business version of the Operating System that most people will need.

The Business version of Windows 10 is called Windows Professional.

Windows 10 Professional allows a computer to join a domain, which controls access to the computer and applies policy and settings set by your network administrator.

How to use your Desktop at home instead

Some customers have asked us about taking their desktop computers home to work.

The first stumbling block is usually that the computer will use an ethernet cable to connect to the network rather than WiFi.

If you will be setting up your desktop computer close to where your home broadband router is located, then this may not be a problem.

If you cannot set up near the router you will need to enable WiFi.  If the computer does not support WiFi you can buy a USB WiFi adapter for around £10 – £20.

We have used these devices in the past quite successfully:


150Mbps Wireless N Nano USB WiFi AdapterTL-WN725N

You can but these from places like Argos or Amazon but if you get stuck, we have a few left in stock here.

Once you’re connected you may still need to have a VPN connection back to the office, but this depends on your setup and what you need access to.

Using another PC

You can however use another PC, even a low powered device like a chrome book.

You can setup a VPN back your office using an application and then use another application to allow you Remote Desktop access to your normal computer at work.

This way the computer screen is locked, and you have access to the keyboard, mouse and screen remotely and because the computer is still in the office, it can access everything as normal including all of your applications and shared drives.

If you need any help please get in touch.