Coronavirus has driven WFH (Work From Home) and the related Connectivity Considerations
Assure Functionality, Productivity, and Security
Given the current state of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, first and foremost our thoughts are with the individuals and families affected. Clearly, a top priority for all is the health and well-being of employees, including moving many work functions from the office environment to home to minimize the spread of the virus. In addition, especially for new and first-time remote workers, business security, continuity, and productivity risks must be addressed and mitigated.
For hundreds of companies and hundreds of thousands of employees, the move from office worker to Work-From-Home happened or is happening rapidly and, unfortunately, without much time for deep planning. Accordingly, employers and employees need to over-communicate on policies and guidelines for remotely accessing company information, systems and data to assure alignment, from top-to-bottom, with protective workflow activities needed to secure valuable corporate assets.
The office environment has security layers that have been installed, instituted and tested. The migration to at-home work and off-premises data network access, in high-volume within a tight timeline, will increase security risks and the need to assess what work functions move off-premises and what, if any, will remain on-premises. At Corporate Spending Innovations (CSI), we have already seen an increased transition to outsourcing B2B payments. Much of this activity focuses on rapid and secure file transfers of integrated payables, with no added cost for the companies utilizing this automated solution.
With on-going supplier payment management digitized and secured, companies will need to address security risks associated with the new or growing home office/worker connectivity to corporate systems and data. From the employee perspective, they will need to confirm and adhere to employer defined protocols and processes. These are likely to include:
- Use of VPNs (Virtual Private Networks), which enable encrypted communication to and from company information systems
- Avoid public Wi-Fi, which can be open to hacking and intrusion
- For your home Router and Wi-Fi, re-set and use strong passwords
- Confirm your antivirus software is activated and updated
In addition, be very mindful of phishing attempts. Unfortunately, there will be bad actors seeking personal gain from this difficult and tragic circumstance. It may be best to follow Google’s lead by going with a “Zero Trust” mantra related to connectivity and content.
With numerous companies seeing network access outside the protected perimeter of the office environment from remote mobile devices, consideration should be given to deploying MDM software (mobile device management). The VPN will encrypt from Point A to Point B but does not protect the employee’s device. MDM applications, ex. AirWatch, SOTI, MS Intune, Citrix XenMobile, will remotely secure and manage mobile devices including installed applications with the ability to run a clean wipe and disabling of any device that is lost or stolen.
Other connectivity-related costs that may be expected include:
- VPN licensing expansion with encryption security
- Cloud computing connectivity augmentation
- Mobile bandwidth consumption and personal hotspot deployment
- Teleconferencing software, ex. MS Teams, Zoom, GoToMeeting
- Workplace messaging solutions, ex. Slack, Chime
While IT teams will be focused on maintaining connectivity, productivity and security, the Finance teams will need to scrutinize budgets and prepare for additional expenses including those listed above. This is another area where CSI can assist businesses. Along with payment management, as mentioned earlier, we are monetizing supplier payables yielding an additional monthly recurring revenue stream, which can be viewed as an off-set to the extra connectivity costs associated with this large and rapid movement off-premises.
For some businesses, working from home can become the ‘new normal’ if it does not fundamentally change the day-to-day work, and delivers positive impact for employers and employees. In addition to the security and financial concerns, there are environmental work adjustments to consider:
- Make certain clear objectives are set and documented for each day that align with weekly, monthly and quarterly goals
- Maintain regular and recurring communication with managers and team members including calls and video conferences for on-going engagement
- Set the demarcation between work hours and personal hours to avoid the risk of each running together…suggestion: a 20 to 30-minute walk.
“Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress, and working together is success.” Henry Ford