With stay-at-home orders being extended for many businesses through April 30th by the state governments, keeping your company running outside of your physical location will require employees to work from their homes. When setting up a remote workforce, there are several factors to consider to keep your business and employees productive and safe.
So what exactly will you need to get your remote workforce going? Here are some ideas of what you'll need.
When employees are in the office, they are likely working with desktop computers. Some employees have multiple monitors, and if you're managing your printing, you likely have staff printing to a cost-effective MFP versus a small office printer. When moving employees to their home, you will need to secure hardware such as laptops and printers. Many laptops are great for on-the-go work, but to sit in front of a small laptop screen for hours a day can be difficult if you're working with spreadsheets and need more than one screen. You may also need to provide additional monitors for those who have jobs that need it.
VPN & Connectivity
Another item to consider is how will your employees connect to your network to be able to access critical systems and files. The likelihood is that staff will be using their own home WiFi connections to get online. This could be a nightmare for your company data, as these networks do not provide the same high levels of security you have within your office. This leaves your valuable data open to attacks from cybercriminals.
Through the use of a Virtual Private Network or VPN, you can create a private and secure way for employees to log in to your network. The VPN will create encrypted transmission of information, allowing your staff to work remotely and keep your data protected.
In today's online world, we know one thing for certain - cybercriminals will use the COVID-19 pandemic to try to take advantage of vulnerabilities online. Whether it is a phishing attack, social engineering or malware, the challenge of cybersecurity will be on full display. To protect your staff and your business, you should ensure you have these basic protections in place:
- Inbound spam email filtering - this type of software will scan email for spam emails and filter them out so they are not received by users.
- Antivirus software - Antivirus software works to prevent, search for, detect, and remove software viruses, and other malicious software like worms, trojans, adware, and more.
- Security for any cloud applications employees will use.
- Malicious link and attachment protection - Many phishing and malware attacks come about through emails that include links to click on or files to download. This software protects users by scanning and blocking these links and attachments to keep you and your data safe.
With all of your employees working in different locations, the spirit and innovation that comes from working as a team can be hard to maintain. You'll need to find a safe and secure way for staff to stay connected. Microsoft Teams is quickly emerging as one of the most popular online collaboration tools. With Teams, you can easily do secure video conferencing, file sharing, chat and face-to-face meetings virtually. You can store and share documents and files easily, and you can have one-on-one or group chats. There's even functionality to interact with people who don't have Teams.
Microsoft is currently offering Teams free in some cases for six months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Teams also integrates easily with Office 365. Fraser is utilizing Teams during this crisis to keep our teams running smoothly and continuously communicating as we have many employees working from home.
With the new remote work environment comes new technology, and that technology can sometimes pose a challenge to employees. It is important to provide staff with online training they can easily access to get up and running with the new systems. With Fraser's New Remote Work Training Program, staff can quickly find training on items such as Microsoft Teams, OneDrive and SharePoint. And Fraser's employee cybersecurity training offers modules on how to stay safe from threats such as phishing, malware and ransomware.
Consistent Data Backup
Having a data backup plan in place is critical if a disaster occurs. The disaster could be something in nature, such as a hurricane, or a digital one, such as a malware infection. In any of these cases, having a consistent data backup procedure will protect your business and provide you with the ability to get your business back up and running after a disaster.
This rapid switch from an in-office staff to a work from home strategy can be a daunting task, but during this crisis, being able to have your staff up and running from home will afford you the opportunity to continue to do business on some level. And this is how we, together as business owners, will get through this crisis together.