Governor Cuomo has mandated that all non-essential businesses and government offices in New York State must keep 100% of their workforce at home in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus. The mandate exempts “essential services,” including construction, food delivery, pharmacies, healthcare organizations and shipping companies.
This means that even more organizations will be finding themselves pushing the limits of their business continuity plans beyond what they ever expected, with the entirety of their employees working remotely. The strain this puts on processes, productivity, technology and resources is substantial, especially given the limited time to prepare.
If not mandated to do so by a government agency, the decision to transition to a work from home environment can be a difficult one that requires the balancing of the health and safety risks posed to your employees and the potential damages and losses posed to your business and their livelihood.
If you are preparing to transition to remote work arrangements for your employees or are still in the decision-making phase, here are a few considerations to check off your list to make the decision and process easier:
- Cybersecurity – Business networks are going to be even more vulnerable to cyberattacks with the increased level of remote access and new phishing tactics preying on COVID-19 fears these days. Take proactive measures to protect your business by strengthening and correcting deficiencies in your password and authentication protocols, limiting access to data and systems to essential users and vendors only, and educating your employees on cybersecurity awareness.
- IT Testing – On a weekend or slower time of day, test the strength and capabilities of your IT infrastructure by asking a large number of employees to connect and work remotely during a time when any issues would not significantly impact your ability to serve your clients or customers.
- Employee agreements – if working from home is not a normal option for your employees, it may be unrealistic to assume they understand your expectations for working remotely. Ground rules that can clearly be laid out in an employee agreement include data security procedures, privacy policies, hours of availability and time recordkeeping.
- Communication – Keeping open lines of communication with your employees is critical to ensuring high levels of productivity, quality of service and morale. Especially in times of emergencies and physical separation, employees will be looking to you for guidance and reassurance.
- Virtual meetings – If not already in place, establish capabilities for employees to meet with each other, clients and vendors remotely by Internet or conference calls. Zoom and Microsoft Teams are two popular options. Be sure to assess the capacity needed so that these systems or phone lines do not become overwhelmed and unreliable.
While we know our workplaces will return to normalcy eventually, ensuring an efficient remote work environment now will make the future transition back to our physical offices that much more seamless.