Is your IT system ready to deal with the impact of Coronavirus? Do you have contingency plans in place to deal with remote working? While it is easy to find advice for how to stop the spread of Covid-19 there is less information available for how to get your IT systems ready to deal with a forced shutdown. In this article, we’ll take a look at what actions you can take as a business to help enable your workforce to work remotely.
One of the first steps you need to take is to evaluate what programs, data and IT systems your staff need access to. Once you have a list of user needs you can start to look at the tools and licenses you need to enable your workforce to connect to your systems remotely. This can involve everything from the number of VPN licenses you need to remote collaboration products such as Microsoft Teams.
Cloud-based services like Office 365 are designed with remote working in mind and make it easy to switch seamlessly between different locations. Simply sign in to your Office 365 account for access to all of your documents, files and programs within Microsoft’s ecosystem. Evaluate the needs of your employees to see if they need access to all your IT systems or if a subset of these would allow them to do their jobs.
Is your office full of desktop computers or do your employees have laptops? If your office is full of desktop computers do your employees have home computers? Asking these questions early on will help you plan out your strategy and work out if any of your employees will be unable to work remotely because they do not have a home PC for instance. Early planning can help you recognise this and provide laptops to employees who have no other option at home while setting up VPN services for those with home PCs.
How do your phone systems work? Are you running a legacy phone system, or do you have a cloud PBX solution? Can you redirect calls through a central phone number to employee’s mobile phones? For the majority of businesses, their phone systems are a crucial part of the everyday running of their business. Having a cloud phone system can help you route your calls to employees, no matter where they are in the world.
One of the best ways to protect your data and that of your customers is to use a virtual private network and set this up for your employees to connect to your IT system. Not only will this ensure that employees are only to see the information they need, but it will also help to cut down the risk of viruses, malware and other malicious code from affecting your business. Once an employee is connected to your VPN their connection to your systems will sit behind your company’s firewall and virus protection systems which are likely to be a lot more stringent than standard home antivirus software.
Nothing can replace user testing when it comes to checking your IT systems to see if your workforce can connect remotely. Start with small test groups with employees who need access to different systems to identify issues at an early stage. It is easier to diagnose problems and put solutions in place when it is just a few users compared to your entire workforce.
If you don’t already then now is probably the time to seek the professional services of an IT support provider. They can help you with the planning and also the implementation of your contingency plans in case of Coronavirus forcing your workforce to stay at home.