Dealing with IT Uncertainty in the Midst of COVID-19

The global economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been catastrophic. Businesses of all sizes across the globe have shut their doors, with corporations announcing they will miss their financial goals for the upcoming quarter.

Dealing with IT Uncertainty in the Midst of COVID-19

The global economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been catastrophic. Businesses of all sizes across the globe have shut their doors, with corporations announcing they will miss their financial goals for the upcoming quarter.

All this is happening as companies come to grips with rapidly shifting IT requirements for employees that are suddenly thrust into a remote working environment. The rapid spread of COVID-19 is a wake-up call for any organization placing too much reliance on internal operations rather than investing in cloud-based IT infrastructure and digital business software. CIOs dealing with uncertainty in the midst of COVID-19 need to ensure IT systems are safe and reliable, particularly in regards to the dramatically increased number of employees working remotely.

Dealing with IT Uncertainty in the Midst of COVID-19

New Security Risks with Remote Work

If remote workers are using unapproved personal devices such as a home computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone, they are easy targets for cybercriminals taking advantage of COVID-19 to play on the fears of uneducated staff members. These personal devices may already be compromised and infected with malware. IT administrators have no idea if remote workers are using less secure WiFi networks or if their personal photos, video, and music files are already infected with viruses. It can be extremely difficult for personal devices to be managed by an in-house IT department or their appointed IT managed services provider. Mitigating this risk requires a dedicated focus on both the platforms being used and training for remote staff members. If IT departments are unable to provide remote workers with company-approved devices, it’s critical to put a VPN or other remote security standards in place to protect your organization from cyberattacks.

Providing Remote Tech Support

The key to managing remote workers’ productivity is ensuring they have the right IT technology and support. Depending on their role, telecommuters may require specialized software and support to work from home effectively. Those who rely heavily on meetings with clients, vendors, and coworkers, need superior broadband internet access to facilitate video-conferencing technology. Outbound and inbound call agents working from home need to be connected with computer-telephony integration (CTI) to manage calls and record outcomes. Others may need access to Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software to continue to collect data and maintain the flow of processes along with the transference of data across multiple business functions. Each time an employee remotely accesses a secure business application, these interface points need to be wholly secure and reliable to reduce the risks associated with data loss.

Dangers of Videoconferencing Software

With a precipitous increase in the use of videoconferencing software facilitating business continuity during the pandemic, devices used by remote workers need to be protected against unwanted access to online meetings. The FBI has received multiple reports of Zoom meetings being disrupted by hijackers sharing hate images, pornographic material and threatening language during online meetings. IT experts recommend using secure options during an active call by enabling and or disabling the right settings in advance and using a unique ID and password for calls.

Cloud-based Storage

Since COVID-19 breached the American frontier, there has been an exponential increase in data breaches. According to Shred-It’s State of the Industry Report, 86% of business leaders believe remote workers increase a company’s chances for a data security breach. Cloud-based software encrypts data making it inaccessible to unwanted visitors. Encryption ensures that even if data is unlawfully accessed and stolen, it will be completely unreadable and unusable to the cybercriminal.

Productivity Concerns

There’s the perpetual concern that the productively of employees working remotely will cool off if they are not being watched. Paranoid managers wonder how they can manage performance as they envisage their employees slouching on a couch watching Netflix instead of working. Inc.com suggests that when it comes to employees working remotely, you can probably relax. New data suggests remote workers had a four percent increase in average daily time spent on core activities and an 18 percent decrease in time spent on communication. This adds up to 58 additional work hours spent on core activities — a metric that will be appreciated by concerned supervisors.

A 2 year Stanford University study conducted by professor Nicholas Bloom, has definitive data that paints a positive spin on the productivity of employees working from home. The study showed employee attrition decreased by 50 percent among telecommuters, they took shorter breaks, had fewer sick days, and took less time off equivalent to a full day’s work. Apart from a boost in productivity, remote workers saved up to three hours a day by working remotely by not having to commute.

Finding the right balance between the quick adoption of technology and the risks associated with failing technology can be challenging. Serving industries in financial services, healthcare, private equity, construction and entertainment, LaScala IT experts have a robust understanding of leading-edge IT processes and solutions. Our team assists with a wide range of topics — cybersecurity, executive training, strategic planning, project management and automation — providing companies with C-level IT expertise. Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today by calling 734-224-4915 to see how our senior IT leaders can help drive true and lasting change while maintaining a high level of security for your business.

WRITTEN BY
Greg LaScala