Author: Tim Ricketts

This is not an article about Coronavirus (COVID-19) statistics. There are plenty of reputable and more qualified entities, including the Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization, who can and should be primary sources for this type of information.

What we do want to speak to are some measures you can take to protect your business should local, state, or national officials issue a quarantine/shelter in place order. While it’s always wise to make sure that you are personally and professionally ready for a natural disaster or other emergency, the Coronavirus pandemic should have everyone taking a closer look at their preparedness plans, especially in the context of the technology you use within your business.

Internal Communications

It’s time to think about how your company will communicate internally with people working from home.

A very easy one to knock off the list is to publish a list of phone numbers and email addresses so everyone can contact their co-workers with ease. If using an IP-based phone system, it’s a good time to make sure everyone understands how to use softphones or can configure an office phone at their home. If you have a traditional PBX system, you should determine if it has remote capabilities.

For email, if your email is hosted onsite, make sure everyone has access to webmail from their phones and home devices. This should already be the case if your email is with an external hosting provider like Office 365 but again, confirm everyone knows how to access their email from outside of the office.

Chat systems like Microsoft Teams can be effective ways for your entire team to communicate in real time and can be segregated into topic- or group-specific channel to streamline and prioritize communications.

Remote Access to Company Data and Applications

For connectivity to office-based file servers and applications, make sure everyone has access to your VPN and knows how to use it. Don’t have a VPN or virtual private network? Contact us—a VPN is a fairly easy and essential way to provide secure remote access to company data and applications.

It is especially important to take into consideration any specialized servers or services, such as an accounting system, that have security safeguards in place related to specific access points. Evaluate these systems and any additional access rights which may need to be provided for an employee to work from home.

The Office

If most or all employees are working from home, what does that mean for your office? Do physical security systems or climate settings need to be adjusted? If you have on-premises servers, make sure they can be administered entirely remotely, including power cycling.

Business Functions

Think about the regularly scheduled tasks of running the business- payroll, AP/AR etc. Can all these functions be performed remotely?  Make sure that every key position has at least one backup, so if one person falls ill, the organization can continue to operate.

If documents need to be signed, bypass the traditional paper trail and invest in DocuSign or other secure online technologies.

Finally, if travel is a significant part of your organization’s day to day business, consider the use of videoconferencing and similar technologies.

We certainly hope that all these preparations prove unnecessary, but they’re worthwhile regardless. Too many businesses have failed after a fire, hurricane, or earthquake renders an office uninhabitable, and such natural disasters are all too common. If you need any assistance with implementing any of these suggestions or technologies, we are here to help. Contact us at 810-629-0131 or visit: https://www.tdaniels.com/.