Staying Safe Against Cybercrime, Collaborating with the Rest of the Team, and Maintaining Day-to-Day Operations – COVID-19 Brings Out a Range of Challenges for Businesses. Here’s How to Address Them.
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, many companies are considering work-from-home options to facilitate social-distancing and keep their workforce healthy. However, it’s not as simple as sending your employees home, firing up personal laptops, and getting to work. Here are seven things you need to have lined up in order to successfully deploy your remote workforce:
Secure Remote Access
Employees should not have open access to everything on their work systems from their personal computers. This keeps company data protected. In order to be productive through this pandemic, however, employers will need to provide a secure connection utilizing VPN or remote access software. These solutions will mirror the employee’s work desktop without housing all of the data on the individual’s personal system, allowing them to seamlessly continue work.
- File Sharing Capabilities
While people will be working in isolation, they must still be able to collaborate. File sharing/group editing software will be critical to moving forward on creative or documentation projects through real-time editing, commenting, and versioning. Some options include:
- Dropbox for Business
- Microsoft Teams/Sharepoint
- Google Documents
- Enterprise Level Antivirus
Basic home-level antivirus is not sufficient, particularly in secured industries. Extend your enterprise-level antivirus to home systems that will have access to your network, in order to create an added layer of protection. You may also consider deploying firewalls on top of individual’s home networks to create the same secure connection employees experience in your office.
- Video Conferencing
Meetings must go on while people work remotely; however, voice-only leaves much to be desired in terms of tone and context. We highly recommend putting in place video conferencing options, such as:
- Google Duo/FaceTime
- Messaging Software
You can’t just spin your chair around to talk to your co-worker when working remotely, yet it’s not efficient to always pick up the phone. We recommend implementing a messaging software to open communication channels and allow employees to continue to interact quickly and accurately. Utilizing these tools, you can set up one-on-one conversations or set up channels to facilitate team communication. Here are some options:
- Microsoft Teams
A strong VoIP solution will allow employees to take their office phone numbers remotely on their cell phones without giving out their cellphone numbers. Office calls will transfer seamlessly to the employee’s cell phones, voice mails will be sent via email, and the employee can dial-out using a phone application to maintain office functionality.
- Remote Access Policy
Prior to providing access to your employees, put in place a clear access policy that acknowledges that your company monitors whatever they do while connected. Employees should be encouraged to act as if they are on site even while working remotely and reminded that punishments for doing something illegal/against company policy will apply.
The COVID-19 situation is ever-changing. Schools across the nation have been closed and events have been cancelled. While it may make sense to keep your employees on-site for now, we believe it’s important to have a plan should you need to close your physical offices.
How Will Remote Work Benefit Your Business in the Long-Run?
There are various benefits to working remotely, aside from keeping employees safe within their homes. In the long-run, you’re bound to find the following advantages:
- Less time spent commuting – meaning employees spend more time working productively rather than getting to and from work.
- Lower operational costs and/or overhead as you have less onsite equipment to purchase, maintain, and support.
- Greater access to a wider pool of applicants for those who are aiming to hire new individuals to their team.
- Increased productivity as employees often find themselves able to focus better due to a lack of office distractions.
What Should You Be Telling Employees About Cybersecurity?
Although you’ll be using a range of secure technologies and creating a remote access policy, it’s important for employees to be aware that right now, there are more risks associated with working from home and combating phishing attacks that take advantage of COVID-19. Here’s a few tips to give your team:
- Use caution with email attachments and/or links. Remember to check the sender’s name, email address, and for spelling and/or grammatical errors.
- Use trusted sources, such as the WHO, CDC or other legitimate government websites, for up-to-date information about the pandemic.
- Verify a charity’s authenticity before making donations. Many hackers are taking advantage of the victims of COVID-19.
- Do not send or reveal personal or company information via email or phone unless you’ve thoroughly verified who is asking.