Coronavirus & Home Working; How to build your IT continuity plan
Due to the risk of disruption caused by the COVID-19 Coronavirus (quarantine, educational closures, social spacing etc), the potential for home working is becoming of critical importance for many organisations.
In order to ensure a successful home working contingency plan, many areas need consideration, whether you are looking to extend existing or create new home working capability.
To help Directors, Managers and IT departments alike, we have detailed a simple approach to business impact assessment, plan and implement, alongside a Top 7 checklist on getting your IT right – you can watch a short video blog from our Technical Director, Mark Allbutt.
Starting point; Key questions and considerations:
We've compiled the ultimate Q&A to help you navigate and minimise the risk of disruption caused by the COVID-19 Coronavirus:
3 Simple Steps
a) Create a full Staff List
b) Assess who could benefit from home working
c) Survey what IT equipment is available to support home working (organisation & personal IT) - Download our simple template here.
a) Map staff that could benefit & assess existing systems for feasibility (example, do they have a laptop or home computer ready to be used?)
b) Check capacity of any remote access VPN systems & teleworker phone licences
c) Look at gaps in the mapping to identify needs & shortages (computers, phones etc)
d) Plan to resolve gaps (example VOIP phones, £20 Nokia Mobile phones on a monthly rolling contract £10 per month. Provision of IT equipment for home working use).
3. Test & Implement
a) Test home working for typical users from each department to ensure feasibility
b) Resolve any identified gaps in the planning stage
c) Order any licences or equipment required
d) Arrange all users to test remote working to ensure everything is working OK for them.
What about my IT?
Key considerations to getting IT right
Swap desktops for laptops, make you employees mobile. Check to see what devices your employees have at home, many will have PCs, tablets, even Smart TVs that can be used for remote working when configured correctly. Older machines are OK too, use as thin clients for remote control. You can also consider hiring machines for short term measures.
Be aware many products are in constraint throughout the global IT supply chain just now, so if you need end user devices act fast. You can see current price and stock on key categories in the supply chain here; Laptops, docking stations, Keyboards & mice, display adaptors, monitors, webcams and headsets (Poly offer some great options).
2. Secure remote access
Secure remote access - If you have infrastructure like servers and switches on premise, in your office, and that is where you mission critical data sits, then have you got a SSL Virtual Private Network in place (have a look at Sonicwall), and enough licenses, to enable all users to securely connect to and access the information they need to operate from outside of the business.
This means as long as your employees have devices they can access data securely. Don’t forget to train your staff on how to use it as well.
3. Maximise the Cloud
Can you use the power of Microsoft or Office 365 to deliver a modern workplace, as Skype is being phased out Microsoft Teams works really well for collaboration/meetings/task management and comms. Use SharePoint or One Drive to enable users to access data and content wherever they are – home or away on any type of device. Setup on Teams can be quick and simple, and there’s free licensing for six months for a limited time only.
Can you route telephone calls to people in remote locations, to mobiles or desk phones – consider cloud telephony applications or a VOIP system? Consider mobile phones either employees own handsets or getting PAYGO phones using cheap £20 handsets if budget is under pressure.
Hackers play on anxiety to extort money and data. Phishing attacks and fake websites have increased significantly. Check your firewall, email filtering services, anti-virus & patch updates, consider a security review to assess your vulnerability to Malware and Ransomware attacks. Why not register for a free cyber security and data risk assessment here.
6. IT resources
How many people are in your IT team, do you have a need to staff up right now or consider fail overs, including outsourcing IT support in case you need IT engineers on site. Increased home working will place added dependency on your IT for business continuity, consider who will fix it.
7. Have a plan, and test it
Send a couple of members of your team’s home to work as a trial, resolve any teething problems, and ensure you can operate when large numbers of your staff can’t be in the office.
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