Like any good Scout, “Be Prepared” is my personal motto. I wasn’t quite anticipating the number of questions from clients regarding ADNET’s preparedness for Coronavirus/COVID-19 – and it’s one that warrants a discussion beyond any “talking piece” on a website.
ADNET has been vigorously following the CDC recommended guidelines during this situation. We are advisors for Cybersecurity and Managed IT operations, not medical professionals. Our culture allows people to work remotely, and we’ve always strongly encouraged those that aren’t feeling well to take care of themselves and not spread any illness to clients or teammates. We’ll leave the choice of taking a sick day or working remotely up to the individual – as long as they don’t physically come in to the office. This has always been our first line of defense.
Our ability to work remotely has evolved over time. Several years ago, we began using an online collaboration tool called Slack. For those who haven’t used it, Slack is a workplace communication tool, a single place for messages and files. This basically means Slack is an instant messaging system with lots of add-ins for other workplace tools. The add-ins aren’t necessary to use Slack, though, because the main functionality is all about talking to other people.
ADNET’s needs grew, and we eventually fully adopted Microsoft Teams. Teams allows full video, voice, messaging and online document collaboration. Having employees and clients throughout the nation, we became much more fluid and focused – our tools allow us to work together, anywhere and at any time. If you have not utilized such online collaboration or seen it in action, call us to show you how we do it. It’s easy to get started, and in many cases its absolutely free.
We can support and engage 90% of our clients remotely, and securely. This allows for quick and proactive approaches to work without hesitations of travel.
Enabling Your Remote Workforce
So, how do you get started? I rarely, if ever, condone that an organization slap together a tool and “see what it does”. Planning, assessment of impact, documentation and security all need to be considered prior to the deployment of any tool. Given the circumstances, you may not have the time required to do all that. A quick-look checklist should be considered:
Quick Planning – The Priority Checklist
- Don’t panic. Remain calm. This is a time for leadership, not overreaction.
- Understand work roles and important files. Who needs access to what? What members of your team will need what capabilities to keep the organization up and running? Are there applications or files you’ll need access to? These things have to be determined before solutions can be implemented or plans can be finalized. What works for one person’s access, may not work for another.
- Prepare the “IT Support Team” and embed them in the design/plan. If you’re an IT leader, ensure you have input and buy-in on the plan from your executive team. Executive leadership, you need to work “hand-in-glove” with your IT team to make sure the technology can support your needs.
- Test the plan ASAP. Recognize that if you have the luxury of planning this out before you need to implement it, you can focus on getting it right the first time. However, more often than not, when trying to prepare something like this quickly you’ll need to take an agile, iterative approach. Start deploying your plan as soon as possible.
- DO NOT SACRIFICE SECURITY FOR CONVENIENCE! As a security focused organization, this is one we’re VERY passionate about (as you could probably tell from the caps lock). While it may seem like a good idea at the time to just roll things out immediately when faced with a crisis – it’s still important to do your due diligence and make sure you’re not compromising your business elsewhere in an effort to quickly recover.
- Dust off your remote policies or prepare to create them on the fly. Do you have clear, up to date policies for your employees letting them know that it’s okay for them to work from home? Do they need a manager’s permission, or are there steps they need to take and rules they need to follow? These are all things you may have in your employee handbook – but if you don’t, you’ll need to develop and confirm them quickly.
- Discuss new norms, set expectations and ensure leadership is on board.
- Document everything you possibly can. There’s no better time to record your process than when it’s put to the test. Keeping track of the steps you’re taking will save you time in the long run.
- Don’t panic. Remain calm.
I encourage everyone to stay on top of the news and prepare guidance for your team via trustworthy data sources (NOT FACEBOOK FRIENDS!). The CDC prepares daily guidance and risk assessments for business to stay informed. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/summary.html
As always, we remain ready to help you and your business. If you have concerns or aren’t sure your organization is prepared to work remotely, we welcome a discussion at any time. We’re here to help in any way we can.