Looking to Reopen Your Business? Prepare Now

If the pandemic has taught us anything over the past few months, it’s that we have to be prepared for the unexpected. Working in the technology industry, we’ve been conditioned to adapt to changes quickly and to be forward-thinking, which enabled many organizations in tech to pivot and deploy a remote workforce.

While the ability to work remotely became a major positive for business continuity and maintaining employee wellness, other cybercrimes rose including scams, phishing attacks and ransomware as malicious actors found ways to hack into email addresses, prompting the government to issue alerts and provide guidelines to keep individuals and businesses secure. As a result, it became glaringly important for organizations to prioritize cybersecurity as they consider sending employees back into physical office spaces and anticipate the need to continue supporting a remote workforce.

Preparation Is Key

With the tips below, leaders will learn how to apply their knowledge from the past few months and be better prepared to create and maintain a successful business capable of weathering all storms, including a second and third wave of the virus, while also embracing the future of tech working environments.

Document the Experience

Your first move should be to look back, take notes and review them. Most were unprepared to instantly deploy a partial or full remote workforce. With a focus on function, it makes sense that steps were overlooked. How do we undo any damage we might have done? Now that your business has settled into its new normal, take the time to review the steps you took at the start of lockdown, noting key areas that were overlooked and any mistakes you might have made or gaps created in security design.

Find Your Security Weak Spots

Familiarize yourself with security vulnerabilities and put a plan in place to address them. Every business that transitioned to remote work should ask the following questions: How can we measure the impact of deploying a remote workforce? Have we performed a security risk assessment to understand the impact to our business? Did we create new security vulnerabilities or open ourselves up to existing ones? If so, what can we do to avoid them in the future? By answering those questions and documenting your process, your business will be better prepared to seamlessly transition back to a physical office space or embrace a hybrid working environment.

Adjust to Remote Work Some or All the Time

Prepare to switch between an onsite and remote workforce. Although many states have lifted the lockdown restrictions limiting non-essential businesses from keeping a fully staffed office space, we’ve also seen that spikes in cases can revert those allowances and send employees back home where possible. As businesses toggle between deploying remote workforces and going into the office, the ability to quickly deploy remote workers will be a new normal.

Without the proper tools and security in place, businesses won’t experience the flexibility of a hybrid working environment. As the frequency of remote work increases, laptops and internet connections will open vulnerabilities. To combat possible cyber risks, invest in tools that support remote work and increase cybersecurity.

Expect Pushback

Anticipate hesitation around returning to the office. As guidelines and mandates continue to change, some employees may be apprehensive about returning to shared workspaces. This will be a time to determine whether it makes sense to split up the workforce with alternate days working from home or create physical barriers where possible. Determine the comfort level of your employees; understand their fears and concerns, then accommodate them going forward. Your employees want to know physical and mental health is your top priority. Increasing cleanliness, providing masks and checking in with your staff will let them know their health is important, but constant communication will ensure their voices are heard. Although this is a decision for leaders, employee input is important.

Along with raising health concerns, some employees will argue their productivity at home matches or surpasses their performance in a physical office. Regardless of how long the coronavirus impacts our lives, 55% of employers expect their workforce will want to work remotely at least one day per week, so having these conversations now will help ease employee reluctance and will better prepare businesses for the future.

Make Learning a Part of the Job

Embrace the opportunities for virtual education. We’re currently experiencing a focus on education and self-improvement spurred on by increasing webinars and event virtualization. Their rampant availability during lockdown has provided opportunities for employees to build their value through education and become better at their jobs. Online training offers an accessible resource for providing cybersecurity training to individuals previously lacking the time, money or ability to attend in-person training. Ensure your employees are taking advantage of the growing resources available during this time.

Prepare Today for Success Post-Pandemic

As we continue to navigate the pandemic on a case-by-case basis, it’s important we realize the impact it will have on future operations. Take note of the areas doing well in this environment, such as remote work capabilities, education and cybersecurity, and find ways to integrate them with your business. Reflection, employee input and flexibility will go a long way in determining a business’s performance throughout the pandemic and beyond.

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Jay Ryerse

Jay Ryerse, CISSP, is the Vice President of Cybersecurity Initiatives for ConnectWise. He brings more than 25 years of experience providing information technology and security solutions to businesses of all sizes. He’s the previous owner of a successful Atlanta-based MSP and was the CEO of CARVIR, the cybersecurity company acquired by Continuum in 2018. Jay is the author of “Technology 101 For Business Owners”, was named to “The World’s TOP MSP Executives, Entrepreneurs & Experts” in 2014 by MSPmentor.net, and was the “2015 Better Your Best” winner from Technology Marketing Toolkit. Today he works closely with IT service providers and MSPs to provide insight and best practices for securing business networks.

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