Preparing your Employees for Remote Work During COVID-19
The World Health Organization has officially declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. With major national shutdowns effective in places like China and much of southeast Asia, the United States, Canada, Spain and Italy, many companies are being forced to send workers home to work remotely.
So far this pandemic has had global effects throughout all sectors. With high infection rates of COVID-19, self-isolation is becoming mandatory. Businesses are considering telework to first minimize the spread but also to maintain business continuity during the outbreak.
Many companies have contingency plans in place and have the ability to continue to work from home. If your company is not prepared for this, you may find yourself scrambling to set up a work from anywhere procedure. Remote workers can be difficult to manage and can negatively impact your businesses’ bottom line if handled improperly.
Here are some things to keep in mind when preparing your team for remote working.
With cybersecurity issues at the forefront, there are a few steps that you can take to improve your cybersecurity while employees are working remotely. CISA, the U.S.’s Cyber Infrastructure unit, has released risk management guidelines amid COVID-19 concerns. Secure remote access systems should be reinforced. If you are signing on to a Virtual Private Network (VPN), patch up loose ends and enhance system monitoring. You may also want to implement multi-factor authentication to ensure your sensitive data is protected.
A firewall should be properly configured on all machines, even private ones. This will come with anti-malware and intrusion protection. Some internet monitoring software can provide this protection as well, which will save in the number of software pieces that your security department is required to outsource. Regardless of the system you choose, test all solutions for remote access to identify their capability. You’ll also need to provide information and training around certain security solutions.
Unfortunately, malicious cyber attackers might take advantage of the COVID-19 concerns so you may see an increase in phishing attacks. Phishing attacks usually use fake emails infected with malware and fake websites. To prevent these attacks, avoid clicking on links from unsolicited emails, do not reveal personal information in emails or respond to unsolicited emails in this way, and only use trusted sources. The Federal Trade Commission has released a blog post about coronavirus scammers, and the CISA has also released tips on recognizing and avoiding phishing scams. See more tips here.
Poor productivity is one of the major challenges in managing a remote workforce. If your company has not prepared for remote work before, then allowing employees to work from home will not only open the network to potential security risks but it may also reduce productivity.
One way to mitigate these risks is to install an internet monitoring software. Internet monitoring software can monitor, track, record, and alert an admin console to incoming network threats. They do this by monitoring how much data goes over a network IP, by watching for maneuvers that are not allowed, and by restricting admin controls to a limited number of people.
Internet monitoring software can also perform keystroke logging, take regular screenshots, and log the time spent on webpages and applications. Internet monitoring helps to track employee time-wasters and ensure that your remote workers are still being as productive as expected during this transition time.
Set up clear remote work policies
One of the biggest hurdles in working remotely, especially when established in emergency situations, is how procedures are processed. A clear business continuity plan will allow normal systems to function even in abnormal times. The process has to dramatically change (for the most part) from what was originally in place while on location.
To ensure infrastructure protection, CISA recommends that you designate a response coordinator with specified teams and clear responsibility. You and your management team will most likely be overloaded with process management. Elevate lower-level staffers to alleviate the work. You’ll also have to implement a protection strategy and train employees on this strategy. You’ll have to be flexible in what were normal operations and will need to establish which functions are essential.
If you are working with a chain of supply, reach out to that supply chain to identify what disruptions could or are currently happening. If you need to coordinate logistics or international manufacturing shutdowns, then that will affect your bottom line. In many cases, lead times have doubled as there is a general shortage of freight options. Additionally, there may be ways of working around shutdowns, in which work can still go on in an alternative manner.
Depending on the number of employees your company has, there could be an array of new IT components that you are not prepared to deal with. Outsourcing IT to a managed service provider (MSP) for things like network management, program installation and configuration, cloud setup or connecting third-party apps could streamline the transition to remote work. They can also keep you informed about things that are needed in your network to maintain proficiency and security.
A sudden heavy load on Wi-Fi networks due to increased remote work can diminish the quality and functionality of the networks. This could limit the access that employees have. Hiring on additional IT staff or outsourcing an IT department means that you could have team members focused on mitigating the network effects of telecommuting.
Virtual meetings and communication
If online communication platforms or productivity agents are not set up, then that needs to be done immediately. Communication platforms like Office 365 chat should be available through your business licenses. You can also sign up for free with comm clients like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Skype, and Google Hangouts. Video conferencing can be conducted through Google Hangouts, Zoom meetings, Cisco Webex, and Skype.
Productivity management software like Monday, ClickUp, Basecamp, and Asana can help to streamline new processes and workflow. These systems are ready to go out of box but they take some configuring for settings and notifications. File sync should be accessible through an online, cloud agent, such as Google’s G Suite, Box, Dropbox, OneDrive, or Sampage. File sync clients allow for the auditing trails, messages, and collaboration for seamless production.
It is vital that your company prepares for the disruption of the coronavirus disease to maintain business continuity. If your workforce is used to the socialness of in-house work, prolonged isolation could take a toll on morale. Rely on business continuity and the policies in place to maintain a positive workplace culture, even with remote employees. Establish clear communication practices, team-building exercises, and have a general enjoyable attitude to minimize the stress and anxiety that is present with this outbreak.
By SoftActivity Team