Have you had to move your business to remote work around Hollywood and Southern Florida due to the Coronavirus Pandemic?
Since the close of 2019, coronavirus has been spreading around the world. The situation developed into a true crisis in March, with the spread of the virus continuing to the point that the US government and health agencies begun urging citizens to practice social distancing in order to prevent further spread.
Social distancing plays an important role in slowing the spread of the virus, given how easily it’s transferred from one person to another. Even those who show mild symptoms can pass the virus via coughing or sneezing in the general vicinity of healthy individuals. Experts recommend maintaining a distance of at least six feet between individuals to limit the spread.
However, while social distancing is important for community, national, and global health, it puts business owners in a difficult position. How can they expect to keep their business running if their employees are stuck at home?
Remote Work 101
With the right IT solutions and best practices in place, you can keep your staff productive no matter where they are. The modern business technology industry offers a range of tools that are designed to provide convenient access to data, empower users to collaborate with one another across great distances, and maintain effective lines of communication.
In order to make use of these tools, you will need a few key components:
- Reliable Internet Connectivity: As you can’t realistically lay cable to connect your employees’ homes all the way to your office servers, they will need a viable Internet connection to access business data and applications.This really only becomes an issue if your staff members are located in rural or remote areas that still lack a strong Internet option. If that’s the case, then you’re urged to consider investing in mobile hotspots, or reimburse staff for the increased cost of relying on their personal cellular data connection.
- Hardware: Your staff will also need the right devices at their homes in order to continue working like they normally would in the office. In this day and age, you could assume that your employees all have laptops or desktops at home, but that may not be the case. You’d be surprised how many people rely on a smartphone or tablet for all their personal computing needs.
What Solutions Should You Look Into?
Once you know your staff have the local capability to support remote work, your next step is to evaluate the potential technologies you could deploy. The three main areas you’ll want to investigate are:
- Cloud Platforms (e.g. Microsoft Office 365): This solution is how your staff will access business data. If your business is already in the cloud, then a lot of the work is done for you. For example, if you’re using Microsoft Office 365, your staff will just have to download local applications, or use the browser-based version from home.If you don’t have a cloud solution in place, you’ve got more work ahead of you. Migrating your data to a cloud solution can be time-intensive, and so, you’ll want to start working with your IT team to roll that out as quickly as possible.
- Business Phones (e.g. RingCentral): If your business did a lot of communicating over the phone at the office, you’ll likely want to maintain that standard as you switch to a work-from-home model. Ideally, you won’t be asking your staff to use their personal phones for work – it can be tedious to circulate everyone’s personal numbers, verify that they have client contact info, and calculate how you’ll reimburse their personal phone bills.That’s why you should look into cloud-hosted phone systems, which can maintain your business numbers and lines, and route incoming and outgoing calls through the cloud to your staff’s devices at home.
- Video Meetings (e.g. Microsoft Teams): Lastly, you may want to invest in a way for your staff to meet, both together, and with clients. While an audio-only conference call can suffice, many prefer to use video meeting software. This allows for a more personal and connected experience in meetings.
Don’t Forget About Cybersecurity
A key consideration in rolling out remote work capabilities will be maintaining the level of security you have at the office. With multiple remote connections accessing your business data every day, you’ll be at greater risk of a data breach, and more vulnerable to cybercriminals.
Keep these three tips in mind to promote secure remote work among your employees:
- Use A VPN: When you use a virtual private network (VPN), your data is encrypted, or hidden, as it moves from your device to the VPN and then continues onto the Internet. That makes it harder for an attacker to identify you as the source of the data – no matter whether you’re on your mobile device’s data connection, or using an unsecured retail Wi-Fi network while you’re in line for coffee.
- Develop A Mobile Device Management Policy: An effective MDM policy should instill safe and secure practices for employees that use personal devices for business purposes. Key considerations include:
- Decide When And How Mobile Devices Will Be Used. Integrated into your internal network, these devices can be used to access, store, transmit, and receive business data. You’ll need to have policies in place to regulate how employees use their devices to interact with sensitive data.
- Consider How Mobile Device Use Can Pose Risks To Your Data. A risk analysis will help you identify vulnerabilities in your security infrastructure, and help you determine the safeguards, policies, and procedures you’ll need to have in place.
- Stay Up To Date: Did you know that one of the most common ways that cybercriminals get into a network is through loopholes in popular software? Much of the software you rely on to get work done every day could have flaws — or “exploits” — that leave you vulnerable to security breaches.
To address this, developers regularly release software patches and updates to fix those flaws and protect users. This is why it’s imperative that you keep your applications and systems up to date.
While at one time remote work was a potential option for some businesses, seen as a way to access talent and reduce in-office costs, with each day that coronavirus spreads, it’s becoming more of a necessity. If you need help launching your remote work capabilities, get in touch with the Palindrome Consulting team.