June 2, 2020

A Trusted IT Resource Can Help Your Organization Rapidly Adjust For Remote Working Environments

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is causing businesses around the world to reexamine their operational structure. Companies now need to plan and prepare for employees to work remotely without any interruption to normal business functions, if they plan to stay competitive and productive.

If you find you and your company are facing these decisions, Zephyr Networks will do every-thing in our capacity to help keep your business running as close to normal as possible.

This might cause some challenges for organizations that don’t have the right technology or structure to support this. It doesn’t help that, during times like these, we see a severe spike in cyber-crime activity because employees are accessing the network from personal laptops and home computers.

Companies who aren’t properly prepared during these times might suffer from possible data loss and unplanned downtime with more associates working remotely, but having a few simple steps in place can help prevent this.

Step 1 – Develop a Remote Workforce Plan To Fit Your Organization’s Unique Needs

World-wide health pandemics can jeopardize and possibly damage the operations and future of any company, so it’s critical to develop a Remote Workforce Plan to help ensure ongoing business processes in a crisis.

IT Professionals and Cloud Solution Strategists can help provide a roadmap that organizations can follow and implement to ensure sustainability, as we have the ability and responsibility to help local organizations, our peers, and our employees survive and thrive in these difficult times.

A professional IT organization, like Zephyr Networks, can help rapidly adjust your business model towards remote work, as well as set up a consistent and effective line of communication with your employees and clients. You can schedule your Remote Workforce Plan here: https://calendly.com/zephyreric

Step 2 – Implement a Remote Workforce Plan With a Trusted IT Partner

In the rush to provide remote access, don’t sacrifice cybersecurity or the ability to manage systems and devices in order to get employees up a running. The ability to support users remotely will be essential to ensure smooth operations, especially if users become quarantined due to health concerns. Remote workers need to have clear communication protocols for IT support and for crisis management if they encounter unusual or suspect issues that could be the result of a breach.

Therefore, you not only need a detailed Remote Workforce Plan, but a trusted IT partner to help facilitate that plan and manage all users and networks.

Here is a quick list of items an IT company, like Zephyr Networks, can help organizations facilitate a Work From Home (WFH) environment and continue to operate productively:

Organizations with an Office 365 subscription:
· Implement Teams, Sharepoint and OneDrive for secure communication and collaboration with cloud file storage and anywhere access on any device:
· Teams can be used for team-based chat, as well as, voice and video communication.
· Sharepoint can be a repository for shared documents (replaces or synchronizes with a file server)
· OneDrive is to able to be used for cloud storage of your own documents.
· Implement multi-factor authentication to secure access to resources.
· Implement device management policies on smartphones, tablets and other BYOD devices such as home computers. This will allow the ability to control where corporate data is stored and provide the ability to wipe data if needed. Device encryption can also be enabled on these devices to ensure that data is not exposed in case the device is lost or stolen.
· Provide training on how to use these tools to employees that don’t have experience in using them.

Organizations with a Google G-Suite subscription:
· Implement Hangouts Meet and Chat, Shared Drive (previously Team Drive) and Drive for secure communication and collaboration with cloud file storage and anywhere access on any device:
· Hangouts can be used for secure auditable team-based chat, as well as, voice and video communication.
· Shared Drive can be a used for shared documents (replaces a file server)
· Google Drive is to able to be used for cloud storage of your own business documents.
· Implement 2-factor authentication to secure access to resources.
· Implement device management policies on smartphones, tablets and other BYOD devices such as home computers. This will allow the ability to control where corporate data is stored and provide the ability to wipe data if needed. Device encryption can also be enabled on these devices to ensure that data is not exposed in case the device is lost or stolen.
· Provide training on how to use these tools to employees that don’t have experience in using them.

Organizations with onsite servers:
· Setup secure remote access directly to employee desktops.
· Setup access to Remote Desktop Servers for all employees (if one exists). We will need to ensure there is enough “horsepower” on the server(s) as most companies with a remote server typically don’t have all employees working on them simultaneously.
· Discuss options to transition to cloud servers and WVD (windows virtual desktops) to enable a WFH (work from home) workforce.
· Discuss options to transition to Office 365 to remove reliance on the onsite systems and provide employees to work from anywhere at any time.
· Discuss options to take advantage of Business Class File Sync and Sharing Tools to enhance access to the on the onsite systems and provide employees the capacity to work from anywhere at any time.
Or please consider moving or replicating your on-site servers to our data centers or private cloud to ensure enterprise class connectivity, power, remote support, and physical security for your data, applications and team.

Telecommunications:
· Setup VoIP phone systems to allow phone calls to be received on employee smartphone apps or softphone apps installed on a laptop.

Step 3 – Audit Employee Environments

In addition to helping organizations get set up with appropriate Work From Home (WFH) re-sources, Zephyr Networks can provide assistance with assessing and auditing employee environments.

There are continual disclosures regarding vulnerable Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and this is an excellent time for employees to take action on securing them with strong passwords and updating their firmware/software to the latest versions.

Consider promoting, or even mandating, the use of a connected home monitoring app before allowing work devices to be connected to home networks. The scan or monitoring will high-light devices with known vulnerabilities, outdated software or firmware, or default passwords that need to be changed.

This is a stressful time for all of us, employees and business owners alike. Be the calming and supportive voice in your community. Working closely with your team and a steady IT resource can help you keep operating and keep your team employed. It’s the best case for everyone.

If you need any help or assistance getting your team up and running remotely, please reach out to the Zephyr Networks Team at 800 884-7559 or you can book some time on my calendar here: https://calendly.com/zephyreric