With the UK in lockdown in a bid to help prevent the spread of coronavirus during the pandemic, it has never been more important for companies to review their crisis management and business continuity plans to ensure that they’re fit for purpose.
Carrying out risk assessments and trying to prepare for all eventualities is certainly wise - and the current crisis has revealed the importance of being flexible with working arrangements and ensuring that people can work from home when possible so help maintain normal business operations.
More and more people are now working from home following government guidelines instructing us that we should only be leaving the house for medical reasons, one form of exercise a day, shopping for necessities such as food and medicine, and travelling for work purposes but only where people are unable to work from home.
What this means for businesses is that they need to make sure their employees have all the infrastructure they need to do their jobs effectively on a remote working basis.
Working out who can work from home and who can’t, needs to be the first step in making plans in this regard, considering how many key staff members will need to work in this way to keep your company running no matter what transpires.
Internet connections are a must and you will need to ensure that your employees have the necessary resources, including fast and reliable broadband, the ability to access work emails from their devices and - potentially - remote access to virtual private networks so they can access company resources as and when required.
Making sure that your team has the appropriate hardware is also necessary, whether that’s a desktop computer, a laptop or a mobile device of some kind. Bear system security in mind when allowing the use of personal computers - and always make sure that antivirus software is used, and any device has been Pak tested.
Devices also need to be protected against both loss and theft, with various options available, such as full-disk encryption so that data is inaccessible if the device goes missing. Stress the importance of logging out of systems when not in use while working from home, as this will help reduce the risk of someone else accessing company information.
What has been interesting about the past few weeks amid self-isolation and social distancing is witnessing the rise of new and emerging platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams that can help facilitate communication between team members.
Zoom, for example, is easy to use, set up and manage, so there is no need for an IT team to help you roll it out. It also makes it easy to have meetings, collaborate and work flexibly… perfect for working from home.
Because of this surge in interest, the company is now clarifying encryption practices, issuing guidelines on how to avoid being a victim of zoombombing (where random people crash meetings to shout obscenities) and holding a weekly webinar to focus on privacy and security updates.