As you plan a return to business, one thing is abundantly clear, it won’t be business as usual. More like business as unusual. Covid-19 has left us knee-deep in economic uncertainty. A recent PWC survey revealed that over half of Irish CFOs believe a return to business would take between 3 and 12 months. Almost a fifth believing full recovery would take longer than a year. PWC suggests that navigating the aftermath will be the biggest business challenge of our times.
To help, the government has given us clarity on returning to work measures through the 5-Phase Roadmap and Returning to Work Protocol documents. Both of these contain excellent information and give most business owners a starting point so they can plan for the future.
In this post, we will look at three important areas that will help you prepare for the transition:
#1 Your People
The first thing to consider is your people. The likelihood is that most businesses are going to end up with a mix of some in the workplace, and some remaining remotely working from home. This may be dependent on a number of factors:
- Office space and the number of people – The amount of floor space may limit the phased return for many businesses. In order to comply with the social distancing of 2 meters minimum between people. The reality is, some businesses may not have the physical capacity to bring all their employees back. Remote working is likely to be with us for some time
- Type of job – Some will return earlier than others depending on the type of job they have. For example, some jobs are more aligned to remote working such as a receptionist who needs to be physically present versus sales staff who could remain remote
- Childcare – Issues for those with a young family may mean a return to the office isn’t viable until childcare facilities reopen
- Underlying medical conditions – Those who have pre-existing underlying medical conditions as outlined by the HSE, may not return to the office for quite some time
- Tools – Working remotely can be challenging if businesses do not provide staff with adequate ways to access all the information and tools they need. By moving your IT environment to the Cloud is an effective way of ensuring your business is ready for a phased return to the office. The same goes for your business phone system; a cloud phone system gives you the same functionality as an on-premise system, without the confines of set physical location for users
#2 Your IT Hardware
This refers to the equipment your people use. During the early stages of the pandemic, we advised that some hardware such as laptops, headsets, and webcams were in short supply. The update is these items are still in short supply but it’s slowly getting better. The choice of manufacturers and models have been reduced. But there are some ways around this:
- The use of Thin Clients – Microcomputers that can replace the need for PCs and deliver virtual desktops via the Cloud or on-premise server, and VPN connection. They can be an extremely cost-effective alternative to a laptop or desktop PC
- The use of NUCs – NUC is short for the Next Unit of Computing and has been used within industry and manufacturing for many years now. These are tiny computers that function the same as desktop PCs
- The reconditioning of old PCs and laptops – subject to minimum specifications for recommended Windows 10 installation
- Tablets with keyboards – tablet computers have been advancing fast over recent years and they can be a cost-effective alternative to laptops for remote workers. Some recommendations here
- Chromebooks – similar to a laptop with the only difference of running Google IOS instead of Microsoft Windows OS – all Windows Cloud Apps (Word, Excel, Onedrive, etc) run on Android IOS
#3 Your IT Security and Data
Now is a good time to check that your data security has not been compromised by all the changes made over the last few weeks. According to Gartner, rapid responses to the coronavirus pandemic leave organisations vulnerable to security breaches. Security and risk teams must remain vigilant and focus on strategic areas. They suggest a 7 point focus to ensure your IT defences are up to the task:
- Ensure that your business’s incident response protocols reflect the altered operating conditions and are tested early
- Ensure that all remote access capabilities are tested and secure, and endpoints used by workers are patched
- Reinforce the need for remote workers to remain vigilant to socially engineered attacks
- Ensure security monitoring capabilities are tuned to have visibility of the expanded operating environment
- Engage with security services vendors to evaluate impacts on the security supply chain
- Account for cyber-physical systems security challenges e.g. smart speakers and devices within the home recording conversations about work
- Don’t forget employee information and privacy e.g. what happens if an employee gets sick or comes in to contact with someone who has been sick. What information is recorded and who has access to it?
Contact our Technical team for more information and specification advice, email email@example.com or lo-call 0818 592 500.
In times like these, the old saying “fail to prepare, prepare to fail” (Benjamin Franklin) comes to mind. We would like to assure you that the Radius Team is ready to advise you of any technical challenges your business may face over the next couple of months.