Is Your Technology Ready to Support a Remote Work Environment?

It only took cybercriminals a matter of days before they began taking advantage of the current remote work environment. Make sure your staff is productive and secure during the coronavirus pandemic.  

There is often a fine line between offering to allow employees to work from home and having to mandate this type of environment “effective immediately” with no end-date in sight. This is the current situation for hundreds of thousands of Canadian businesses, as they struggle to create a secure and reliable infrastructure that provides staff with options for collaboration, productivity and file sharing from home. Moving from a secure, in-office operation to a full-time remote workforce is providing cybercriminals with plenty of weak links that could allow for the infiltration of your company’s customer information or other digital assets. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), scammers are posing as representatives of WHO — asking for donations, personal information and more. “If anyone is contacting by a person or organization claiming to be from the Organization, they should take steps to verify their authenticity,” the WHO said in a statement. While security is important, it is not the only challenge being faced by remote employees during this unprecedented global COVID-19 crisis.

Promoting Remote Collaboration

As working from home becomes the new norm for employees, finding the right solution for remote collaboration gains greater importance. Staff members who are accustomed to joining their colleagues in meetings and hallway conversations daily are suddenly forced to stay at home, reimagining ways to share ideas and documents. While video conferencing has grown dramatically in recent years, there are still many individuals that are not familiar with the technology nor are they comfortable with the tools required to collaborate with colleagues, customers and vendors without the ability to share space physically. When compared to audio-only communication, video conferencing is preferred by nearly 99% of respondents in a recent study — but it still lags behind physical meetings in terms of preference. Fortunately, there are security solutions that integrate well with your current Microsoft Office 365 productivity suite that allows collaboration without the complexity that might cause employees to skip the video and revert only to audio conversations.

BYOD or Company-Supplied Technology?

While many Canadians have access to high-speed internet at home and some sort of personal computer or laptop, these devices may not have the same level of security as those supplied by your organization. This begs the question of whether your IT department can provide each staff member working remotely with the tools and software solutions needed to support their business needs. Of course, once those assets are deployed, they will also need to be tracked and supported via an IT Help Desk or another method of providing patches and software or hardware upgrades over time. While the hope is that the current COVID-19 crisis will be relatively short-lived, there are no guarantees that workers will be able to return to an office environment full-time for many weeks. If staff members are using their devices, it’s vital to provide adequate levels of security, training and monitoring to ensure company digital assets are protected.

Is Your Network Ready to Support the Surge?

You have software and hardware in place, but now you need to consider whether your company’s network infrastructure is robust enough to support the massive surge in demand that is likely to occur with a shift to remote work. Processing that had been completed locally on a desktop machine may now need to be shifted to cloud solutions, putting a significant load on your network. Data storage and collaboration solutions may also have a negative impact on your network, creating a slowdown that severely impacts productivity and staff frustration levels. Even licensing for firewalls and servers needs to be reviewed, with particular attention paid to reducing remote access to sensitive information for staff members that are using their equipment.

Even with all the network and software-related questions answered, you will still need to consider the options for telecommunications. If your phone systems are routed in the physical machines at the desks of your staff, making a coordinated change to VoIP phones may offer a level of flexibility needed to keep your company’s customer service and key functionality flowing. When you need support for your business technology and remote work solutions, contact the professionals at CTECH Consulting Group at 403-457-1478 or via email to info@ctechgroup.net to schedule a complimentary initial consultation. You can view our full range of COVID-19 response resources online anytime, too.