During these difficult times and with the continued spread of COVID-19, many small businesses will make the difficult decision to transition to remote only work. While most businesses have some degree of remote work capability, few are used to operating solely remotely. We’ve compiled a list of tools you can use and some important best practices in order to enable your employees to work from home securely and productively.
How To Transition To Remote
Provide Company Owned Computers to Take Home if Possible
Giving employees company owned computers that have the correct software will ensure a smoother transition than if you have to configure employees’ personal machines for business use. If laptops are not available, consider allowing employees to take their work desktops home with them.
Install Remote Management Tools / Antivirus
Cyber criminals will use the uncertainty created by COVID-19 to their advantage. It is more important than ever that you install an antivirus solution on all devices used for business purposes that can be managed remotely (even on employees’ personal machines). We recommend:
Have a Policy for Remote Financial Controls
Create and enforce a policy for how checks, wires, and other financial processes are verified and approved. We expect that fake invoice fraud, wire fraud, and spear phishing will rise exponentially in the coming weeks. Your employees should verify all requests for personal information and money transfers before completion. The same goes for interoffice requests - let your team know it is best to make a verification call before sending any sensitive data or money.
Use Remote Interpersonal Collaboration Tools
Generally, email is not enough to maintain collaboration between employees in a fully remote environment. We recommend you combine several tools in order to maintain an effective work environment.
Video / Remote Meetings
Face to face communication is critically important in maintaining an office culture and keeping morale high. We recommend Zoom. Consider holding an all hands meeting once a week via video to discuss current projects.
We also recommend that you implement a chat solution so that employees can discuss projects organically as they would in an office setting. We recommend Slack or Microsoft Teams if you are an Office 365 user. Remember to create a channel for each department and / or workgroup so that employees will only have to participate in chats that are relevant to them.
Use A File Service to Host Documents
The ability for employees to access and collaborate on documents is absolutely critical in a remote work scenario. We recommend Dropbox Business. Make sure the solution you get has extensive backups, audit logging (for security), and robust permissions.
Train Employees to Practice Safe Computer Habits
During a quick transition to remote working, you will be more exposed to data breach, malware, social engineering, and fraud than ever before. Although having proper antivirus and financial controls is a good start, you are always one employee mistake from becoming victim of a cyber attack. It is critical to train your employees how to spot common attacks and practice safe computer working habits.
Office Culture Is Still Important
Although you probably do have projects and business to discuss, it is important that your team maintain your work culture through communication and collaboration. Chances are your employees are anxious about the current events and having a daily 10-minute video call to celebrate employee wins and see each other will help boost morale and lessen your employees feeling of isolation.
Don’t Wait Until You Are Forced to Go Remote
The number one piece of advice we can give is to not wait until there is a government mandate to shut down. Start working on your procedures now. Each day you prepare increases your chances of a smooth transition and minimal business interruption. Test out the different technology services above, start setting up work computers for employees to take home, and make sure employees have a plan where to set up the computer in their home.
Working these small details out in advance will pay dividends in your business resilience and your employees can continue operation with minimal downtime and less stress.
While this is not a comprehensive list of solutions nor will these solutions work for every business, we hope it has been helpful enough to get you started on creating your remote plan. If you have further questions, please contact us or the Tulsa Regional Chamber.