COVID-19, or coronavirus, has been a major global health concern over the past couple of months. At this point, it is clear that this disease could have serious impacts on the workplace. Work at home declarations from the CDC and other government agencies may become the new normal. Not only could it become a temporary law, but it's also the best way to protect your employees from exposure to the virus. So how can you as a business owner prepare to transition your workforce into a work-at-home team that still performs at a high level? We've provided several important steps for doing just that.
How to Minimize General Exposure in the Office
Based on what is currently known about the coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have some recommendations as to how to keep the potential impact of coronavirus to a minimum:
- Encourage employees who are ill to stay home. This will help to minimize the spread of infection within your business. Make sure that your employees are aware of this policy by reiterating it verbally, and by posting notices around the office encouraging them to stay home if under the weather.
Emphasize hygiene and etiquette. Properly stifling coughs and sneezes and keeping hands clean are surprisingly effective ways to keep your workplace healthier. Rather than using their hands to catch a cough or sneeze, your employees should use a tissue or--if unable to do so--use the upper part of their sleeve.
The CDC recommends that tissues and alcohol-based hand sanitizer should be made readily available. Make sure your employees are washing their hands with soap and water for the recommended 20 seconds.
- Engage in keeping the workplace clean. There is a chance that coronavirus (and other illnesses) could be spread via infected surfaces. Make sure that all surfaces that are touched frequently, like desks, workstations, and doorknobs, are kept sanitized. Provide your employees with disposable wipes so they can proactively disinfect these surfaces before use.
If you find that one of your employees is confirmed to have been infected with coronavirus, make sure that you inform their coworkers of their possible exposure while still maintaining the confidentiality that the Americans with Disabilities Act requires. These employees and those who are living with a sick family member should assess their risk of exposure using the CDC’s guidelines.
Coronavirus as a Cyberthreat to Your Most Precious Asset, Your Data
Unfortunately, coronavirus will also require you to also keep an eye on your network security, particularly if you have sensitive customer data. Hackers and cybercriminals have taken advantage of the widespread concern that the disease has caused. Here are our recommendations for keeping your data safe:
- Have an up-to-date anti-virus package. Out-of-date firewalls and antivirus are a magnet for online cybercriminals. Hackers search the web for out of date licenses.
- Don’t allow employees to access the network through their home PC. Unprotected networks are the easiest way for hackers to penetrate your network.
- Beware of ransomware. Ransomware has been introduced into consumer systems by promising recipients of email information about COVID-19’s spread.
- Make sure you have adequate bandwidth. The first thing you need to do as a business owner is to survey your employees to see what kind of broadband they are using at home. To run business voice and video calls, they're going to need plenty of throughputs. Make sure you have adequate cloud speeds to run the programs that are critical to your business.
- Employee email is the most common way that infected links, downloads and hacking scripts enter your network. Scammers have phished employees with updates that appear to have come from the World Health Organization or hospitals local to their area, but actually introduce keyloggers into their systems. An encrypted email will recognize and remove questionable links and downloads before the email is opened by the unsuspecting employee.
While the current climate may not make it easy, these emails and other threat vectors can be overcome through the same best practices that foil other cyber threats. In addition to comprehensive digital protections, training your employees to spot these threats will be crucial.
Of course, you should also maintain a comprehensive backup in case you need to recover from a successful attack.
Need help? We offer free security assessments and will help you formulate a security plan to safeguard your data both in the office and at home. Call 480-941-8280.
Best Way to Ensure Your Data is Secure - Move to the Cloud
With today’s technology, sending an employee homesick doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be sacrificing that employee’s productivity. We now have many ways that your team can work effectively from home, still contributing to your organizational agenda without compromising data or becoming the victim of a cyber attack.
Protect Your Network
You will also want to thoroughly secure your network infrastructure to help prevent threats like phishing attacks and other methods from being successful. Prepare for a potential breach or emergency with data backups and disaster recovery policies and procedures (including contact information for your employees) to help mitigate a worst-case scenario.
Secure Your Employee Workspace - Move Your Desktop Workspace to the Cloud
With Active Directory, you can ensure certain file-sharing rules within your own Local Area Network. Two promising technologies address these features and move them all to the Cloud while maintaining centralized control over access permissions
Secure Your Communication - Move Your Phone System to the Cloud
Here are the key features of a cloud-based phone system that will enable your work-at-home employee to continue to work efficiently:
- Video Conferencing
- Mobile App
- CRM Integration
Learn more about what's available: https://www.bluefoxgroup.com/solutions/phone/hybrid-cloud-solutions
Secure Remote File Sharing - Move to the Cloud
When you send your workers home, they must be able to share, collaborate on, and store files in the Cloud. The most popular cloud file storage providers are:
- Microsoft Office 365 - OneDrive
- Google G-Suite - Google Drive
Is the coronavirus scary? At this point, it is safe to say that it is, but does it have to interrupt your business operations entirely? Not if you are properly prepared.
For more assistance in preparing your business for any kind of disaster, reach out to the Blue Fox Group team at 480-941-8280. We are here to help and answer questions.