How to Safeguard Your IT Environment from the Coronavirus

Undoubtedly, the current coronavirus pandemic is wreaking havoc to business operations around the world. In the U.S., many cities and states are implementing measures to reduce the community spread and recommend social distancing to limit the number of new infections. These measures seek to “flatten the curve” and prevent the COVID-19 virus from spreading through large populations. However, they also create a new challenge for businesses.

In the years preceding this outbreak, most company’s business continuity and disaster recovery plan focused mainly on cybersecurity or natural disasters. Few foresaw a scenario where their employees could be in danger just by coming to work every day. As most organizations still rely on office-based workflows, losing the entire workforce suddenly could prove devastating.

Although the majority of businesses haven’t reached this extreme, now may be the right time to plan for the worst. Current estimates suggest it will take at least a year or two before a vaccine will become available, and companies can expect extended disruptions over this period. Planning for this scenario will be essential for business continuity and in many cases, the company’s survival.

Preparing for Future Disruptions with a Coronavirus Resilience and Disaster Recovery Plan

For all but a few organizations, eliminating the disruptions of the coronavirus pandemic isn’t possible. Companies will have to make some sacrifices, but proactive planning can help organizations to weather this storm. Modern digital solutions can help to prevent a complete halt to operations. Implementing physical measures could also help protect employees whose on-site presence is essential.

Tech companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon have all taken steps to allow employees to work from home. If a company’s staff only requires a laptop and internet connection to do their jobs, telecommuting is the best solution. Many organizations, however, operate in sectors that require humans to do physical tasks at a central location. In these situations, companies can remain productive while also keeping employees safe.

Measures to prevent spreading the coronavirus if employees cannot work from home include:

  • Encourage sick employees to stay at home
  • Thoroughly clean the work environment regularly
  • Provide sanitizers and disinfectants for all common areas
  • Screen employees for symptoms as they arrive at the office
  • Educate employees on how to practice good hygiene while at work
  • Request self-reporting from employees if exposed to an infected person
  • If anyone confirms a COVID-19 case, inform other employees but maintain confidentiality

Establishing a Work from Home Policy and Resilience Plan

If employees can perform their core functions from a computer, it’s worthwhile for the company to invest in a resilience plan. While similar to a disaster recovery plan, a resilience strategy should focus on restoring, responding, and resuming operations in a time of crisis.

A disaster recovery plan requires the company to establish a data backup policy, network redundancy protocols, and deploy anti-virus software that prevents data breaches. Resilience planning extends these capabilities by allowing staff to log in to company networks from home and access the same systems and tools to execute their tasks. Here are four steps to establishing a resilience plan for remote work.

1. Define Roles and Assign Responsibilities

Firstly, the company needs to know which employees can be productive while working from home. By mapping out the roles and responsibilities, the resilience plan will indicate the distribution of duties during a time of crisis.

2. Establish the Digital Infrastructure

The company should check that their networks have the necessary bandwidth to accommodate remote workers. Similarly, employees should have access to high-speed internet connections and laptops to perform their work. It’s also important that the company ensures they use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) for all remote logins.

3. Use Collaboration Tools and Video Conferencing

Workspaces, collaboration tools, and virtual conference solutions can help employees to conduct meetings and communicate effectively from remote locations. Redirecting desk phones to mobiles or VoIP solutions will ensure employees can still take calls from customers or clients. With office productivity tools and cloud services, employees can work just as effectively from home as at the office.

4. Document and Communicate the Work from Home Policy

Finally, employees need to know what their responsibilities are when working from home. If they have to work from nine to five every day, ensure they understand they should report to their supervisor when starting work. This could be as simple as sending an email or logging into the system. Companies can also deploy remote monitoring tools if required.

Establish a Coronavirus Business Continuity and Resilience Plan with Smile Business Products

Smile Business Products enables organizations to streamline their operations and establish a robust business continuity plan for exactly these types of circumstances. With document management systems, Managed IT Services, and communication solutions, companies can ensure they limit the disruptions caused by the current COVID-19 pandemic.

If you need to extend your disaster recovery plan for business continuity during this coronavirus pandemic, get in touch with Smile Business Products today.