The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic has been wreaking havoc around the globe for weeks. The latest national news indicates the threat is real and should not be downplayed. At least 18 state governors have declared a state of emergency, school closures continue to amass, and the federal government has committed to responding with aid.
Whether or not we agree with the level of alarm the media has relayed, it’s clear the virus has arrived in the United States. We should begin planning accordingly – not only at home but in our businesses as well.
The best remedy to overcome fear and uncertainty is a plan. Whether you are dealing with COVID-19, or any other natural disaster, taking the time to plan today will not only alleviate stress but also reduce business risk. We’ve outlined several considerations for your business to contemplate over the next several weeks as the virus continues to evolve.
Establish Work from Home Infrastructure
Many global companies have already implemented work from home (WFH) policies – and in regions affected by the virus, many companies, like Google, have asked employees to stay home. While in theory this policy is simple and effective, there are nuances that should be considered from the perspective of IT security. Before adopting and deploying a WFH policy, be sure network and server security measures are in place to protect your business. Many options exist, such as AWS Desktop-as-a-Service, that should quell many concerns rooted in security. It’s also important to consider many employees may not have the ability to WFH – assess what an investment in hardware or virtual environments looks like and prioritize accordingly.
Review a recent blog from Box that outlines additional WFH considerations.
Develop a Health and Wellness Committee
It’s never too late to pull together a team of individuals from your business to address the health and wellness of your employees. Today the committee may be focused on how to prevent exposure of the virus; in the future, there are opportunities to share insights to improve overall health and well-being throughout your organization. Whether it’s developing creative signage reminding people to wash their hands, implementing a travel ban, or assessing how to reduce risks associated with various workplace norms – this committee can identify and communicate solutions that impact your entire organization.
Identify Critical Functions
For all businesses, there are critical functions that must be maintained. For Involta, it’s the security and operations of our network, cloud environments and data center facilities. We’ve taken measures to identify and plan for multiple levels of redundancy with internal personnel and external contractors in the event any of our regional markets are impacted by the virus. No matter the threat, taking the time to outline these critical functions in your business, and assigning roles and responsibilities across multiple layers of your organization is an essential preparedness measure for any disaster.
Cross Train Key Employees
For virtually all businesses, having key employees infected with the virus or subjected to the 14-day containment period could spell disaster. Take the time in the coming weeks to identify key personnel within your business – ensure they could work from home securely and are enabled with all the technology they need to do so. Cross train others within the organization in essential operational functions to reduce downtime or interruptions – it’s also a key element in strengthening internal teams and grooming future leaders.
Communicate, communicate, communicate. Whether employees, clients or vendors, let stakeholders know you have a plan and what, if any, contingencies are in place. This is especially important if you are held to a master services agreement or scope of work. Brief, timely, honest and authentic communication will help level-set expectations and maintain those personal and professional relationships.
These are simply a few planning considerations we have adopted at Involta to ensure we are ready to respond if our business is impacted by COVID-19 or any other threat. If you’re unsure of the capabilities and rigor associated with your network or cloud environment, we’re here to help answer questions.