How to make sure your team can work safely and efficiently from home. Everyone knows the current situation is necessary to slow down the spread of the Coronavirus and help the health system to cope. We have created a 4-step checklist, to ensure that it’s business as usual for you and your team.
Protecting your business from cyber-crime should always be your biggest priority. You’ve probably got security covered in your office already – all your computers have anti-virus software; you use a secure VPN and your data is stored away safely.
But if your team starts to work from home, you’re widening your exposure to potential threats. And cracks can quickly appear in your business’s protection.
When preparing for a potential office shut down, you may need to provide your employees with equipment and infrastructure for them to complete their duties from home. When doing this, it’s best to take this approach: If it’s not secure, there’s no point in having it.
If an employee requires a computer/laptop, especially if they need access to shared networks or data, it is important they do not use a personal laptop.
For security reasons, it is better to provide your employees with a work laptop or computer that they can use strictly for work purposes. This is a great way to immediately minimize risks to your business, especially from ransomware.
Here’s a quick overview of what else should be considered:
- Ensure your employees are using approved devices for work purposes only, especially if you use a VPN (Virtual Private Network, which is the safest way to work remotely)
- Educate employees on device use while at home (not using work devices for game downloads etc.)
- Ensure all devices have anti-virus software
- Make sure wi-fi passwords are changed before using home wi-fi for business purposes
- Set up multi-factor authentication
#2 Access to data
If your employees need to work from home, it’s important that they are able to access everything they need to fulfill their responsibilities.
For smaller companies, it’s key to make sure all data is in a location that is accessible, to begin with. Because of this, you may need to reconsider how and where you are saving data and files.
We advise ensuring all data and files are kept in one secure location that is regularly backed up. SharePoint, part of Office 365 is a great way to save files and access them safely from different locations and devices.
Another thing to think about is how your employees can access business applications and how your IT support company can access your server remotely.
All of this can seem quite daunting, but here’s a really easy way to figure out what your employees need and how to ensure they have it. For each department in your business, think of all the different applications that are needed and create a list like this:
|System||How do we access?||Who needs access||Actions / Options|
|Email / Office 365||Online||All team members||Buy laptops for remote working|
|Documents||Individual devices and Dropbox||Account management team||Ensure all data is migrated over to SharePoint|
Once you have done this, you can then create a list for each member of your team:
|Laura||Laptop and mobile phone app||Just emails and phone||Set up Office 365 Teams|
|Richard||MacBook||Password manager and emails||Set up a password manager|
This is a great way to figure out exactly what applications are required, who needs them and how they can get access safely.
#3 Home office set up
If your employees must work from home because of a Coronavirus emergency, the obvious question to ask is: does your team have the equipment they need to work remotely?
With the majority of office devices being desktop, it’s important to consider sooner rather than later if you need to buy laptops. Especially, as the advice is to provide employees with safe and secure work laptops, should they need to access shared networks and if your business uses a VPN.
This sort of decision needs to be thought through carefully and made in advance, to ensure that the devices required are available to buy. We are already seeing increased demand for devices, and some supply restrictions due to manufacturing issues in China.
You must also consider telephony systems. If your team requires access to an internal phone system, could Microsoft Teams (in Office 365) be a better way to minimize costs if you are already using Office 365. Or do you need to look at other systems and work phones for employees?
Here’s a quick overview of what should be thought about:
- Whether you need to buy work laptops for employees?
- Do your employees have the right internet access at home?
- What telephony systems do your employees require and do they have a suitable telephone device to work from?
- Do your employees require any other additional equipment to fulfill work responsibilities at home?
Some of your employees may find working from home difficult. Therefore, every effort should be made to ensure your employees have an appropriate workspace at home.
We do not suggest that you go out and buy everyone a desk and a chair. But we do advise that you clarify with your employees what their home working environment is and offer support where it is possible and appropriate. To ensure that they remain as focused at home, as they are in the office
#4 Communication, collaboration and management
For any business owner or manager, there is always the worry that employees aren’t as productive working from home, as they would be if they were in the office.
Therefore, clear communication, collaboration, and management channels should be implemented to ensure your employees stay focused while working from home.
This could be a great opportunity to look at your current processes, with the view to improve them regardless of a Coronavirus emergency. Especially if you are part of the Office 365 ecosystem, as there are lots of applications in there that you already have access to and could use.
Here’s a quick overview of what should be considered:
- Project management software
- Video conferencing
- Instant messaging / chat
- Reporting and time management
- Office 365 applications including:
How can we help?
You may feel like this much preparation is a bit too much, considering the current threat levels to the US.
However, it is so crucially important to ensure your business can continue operating in the wake of a Coronavirus emergency. The earlier you plan for such an eventuality, the more prepared and protected your business is.
For many of our clients, this type of planning can seem quite daunting. Which is why we can work with you to ensure your business and employees have everything they need to continue working safely and securely.
Don’t leave this too long. Let’s talk now and get your business prepared.