This week the World Health Organization officially recognized the Coronavirus (COVID-19) as a pandemic. Each day brings us news of more school closures, containment protocols, and event cancellations. The situation is having significant impacts on both individuals and businesses.
As COVID-19 continues to spread around the world, teams everywhere are moving to remote work. Major companies including Twitter, Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon, are restricting all non-essential business travel with some even asking their teams to work remotely. Small and mid-sized business are following suit.
Whether you are contemplating or committed to taking similar measures, below are some useful topics to consider:
Communication and Collaboration
While working remotely it is important to keep teams connected wherever they are. Technology plays a key role in enabling communications and remote work. Do an assessment of your technology and solution stack to make sure you have the capabilities to maintain productivity. Fortunately, if you are lacking solutions in some of these areas they can be quickly acquired through Software as a Service (SaaS) providers and cloud-based solutions. Ask yourself if you can remotely (and securely) access and use:
- Email and Calendaring
- Phone Systems
- File Storage
- Line of Business Applications
- Collaboration platforms
While working remotely your employees should have everything needed to be successful in their job. Don’t wait for it to become a necessity, test early to make sure they’ll be able to work effectively from home. Consider the following:
- Internet Access – Do your users have sufficient access and if not, can they be bolstered with wireless technologies like hotspots, Wi-Fi and 5G.
- Computer Setup – Laptops, Notebooks and Mobile devices should make this easy for many. You may however find that some staff still use desktops with specialized hardware and/or software. If this can’t be replicated, consider allowing those users to move their office system to their home.
- Voice – If you have kept up with technology, chances are you have a Voice over IP (VoIP) phone system. Most of these will give you robust options for remote operation, either by taking your desk phone home, or by installing a “softphone” on your computer. If you don’t have these capabilities, most systems at least allow you to forward calls to another number. Also consider reimbursing your staff for use of their mobile phones during this period.
Prepare for Computer/Electronics Supply Issues
Many manufacturers around the world are reporting supply delays. Organizations are scrambling to get laptops and mobility devices so more staff can work remotely. Schools and Higher Ed institutions are shifting to online learning, and in many cases, they are buying up these devices to give to their students. Increased demand will cascade into multiple supply chain disruptions causing depleted inventory and extensive replenishment delays.
- Inventory levels are depleted and will not rebound for quite some time as most components come from China
- Lead times on orders will go up significantly
- Count on prices going up, the ole Supply vs. Demand equation will be working against you
- We strongly recommend that you evaluate your equipment needs and either plan for long lead times or advance your plans and order enough to cover you for the next 2 to 3 months. This is particularly critical if you expect to hire additional staff.
Security Awareness Training
Criminals are exploiting the Coronavirus and the public's current sense of urgency using phishing techniques. Hackers are sending fake coronavirus-themed emails designed to trick people into clicking on links, open malicious attachments, or give out confidential information.
Some messages have impersonated the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while others have masqueraded as communications from health authorities in other countries, including Ukraine, Vietnam and Italy.
- Be careful with anything related to the Coronavirus: emails, attachments, any social media, text on your phone, etc.
- Avoid opening attachments and clicking on links within emails from senders you don’t recognize.
- We strongly urge you to implement a Security Awareness Training Program.
- Remember to Think Before You Click!
- For more phishing tips check out our previous blog post Tips for Detecting a Phishing Email.
Get Some Help
Preparedness in situations like this are vital to your organization's success. We are offering a review of your current situation and will identify steps you can take immediately to ensure your organization continues to thrive during these challenging times. In this FREE consultation we will review your:
- Mobility plans and capabilities
- Remote network access strategy
- Online collaboration and meeting solutions
- Online / remote communications capabilities (Email, Voice, Chat)
- Potential security impacts of working virtually
Upon completion we will provide a written summary of findings and recommendations.