Working From Home During Coronavirus: How to Keep Your People Productive
So, global pandemic! Ahh! The thoroughly British sentiment, “Keep Calm and Carry On” was printed on posters in London prior to the initial bombing raids of World War II. It remains good advice for any crisis scenario, including the coronavirus pandemic. But how do you enable your employees to carry on when their routines are turned upside down?
Chances are, your workplace has suggested—or required—many employees to work from home during the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, outbreak. Whether your people are rolling their eyes or stockpiling toilet paper isn’t really important. If you’re the boss, what matters is that you get organized, stay secure, and keep everybody connected. Here’s how.
Decide who can work remotely, and what they’ll need.
The first thing you need to do is determine which tasks can be completed remotely. Then figure out which people will do those tasks. This would be a good time to dust off process manuals. Take a look at the nuts and bolts of how your products or services are created, developed, and delivered. Look for the specific applications (apps, people), programs, and equipment they use.
Ideally, you jumped on the bandwagon in 2010 and started moving all of your software to the cloud (but it’ll be ok if you didn’t). Now that you know who can work from home, what they need access to, and what equipment they need, you can go forward.
Stay vigilant with security.
Your business is already under stress from employees, customers, and suppliers. Don’t add to that by taking a “this is a crisis so we can be lax on security right now” attitude. The last thing you need is an encryption attack or phishing email to cripple your operations. Remember, the coronavirus isn’t the only virus out there! Set up secure work-from-home practices and protocols right away. And make sure every employee is committed to following them.
You can secure endpoints with a VPN (virtual private network). A VPN client installed on your employee computers can securely connect back to the office or data center environment. That allows not only data sent over the wire to be encrypted, but also allows the workhorses of your security infrastructure (IDS, Next Gen Firewall, WAF) to scrub that data and make sure nothing looks suspicious. At Hyper Networks, we recommend using the best, like Fortinet, PaloAlto, or Checkpoint.
If you need to secure sensitive customer data (credit card, social security, or health information, for example) on employee equipment, you’ll likely need to hire a security consultant to get things right. Taking chances with compliance is simply not worth it. At Hyper Networks, we can see what applications you’re using, how many users you have, what tools for obfuscation you already have in place, determine industry compliance requirements, and get you set up with the right security solution.
Provide easy ways to communicate.
It’s no secret that staying productive means staying in contact—especially from afar. The nice thing is, even if you haven’t been moving to the cloud with your software and internal applications, you’ve probably moved your voices there. If not, there’s an easy remedy.
RingCentral, 8×8, Jive, and more allow you to take those phones off your desk, plug them into a home router, and voila! you’re connected. All these services also have apps for Android and Iphone, offering a virtual extension for employees’ desk phones wherever they go. In fact, with a $23 headset from Amazon, and your employee computers can function as work phones. This solution comes with some cool features you may not have used before, like Presence. Presence allows you to see when employees are at their desks (virtually), on the phone, in a meeting, and so on. It’s simple to configure and can be essential to managers who find themselves suddenly running a remote workforce.
Set up a virtual water cooler.
Employee satisfaction depends on the ability to meet, chat, vent, ask questions, hand off documents, and brainstorm. The coronavirus outbreak has put quite the damper on those activities. The good news is that it’s easy to set up a virtual water cooler with Slack or Microsoft Teams.
If you’re an Office365 company, Teams is already included for free. Slack starts off free and then charges once you’ve got a lot of stuff already in it. Slack works better than email, lets you use emojis, and includes innovative ways to cross-share and look in on what other departments are doing. Chances are if you get Slack, your people will wonder how you used to work without it. And who knows, maybe after all this, you’ll find that flexible work options are actually better for your business.
Free help from Hyper: We want to do our part to help businesses cope with COVID-19 disruptions. If you aren’t already using Office365, call us and we will not only get it for you, we’ll set it up for free—in surgical masks, of course.
Wash your hands, stay safe out there, wash your hands again, and “Keep Calm and Carry On.” At six-foot personal distances.