In their latest announcement on the Coronavirus the UK government believes that in a “stretching scenario, up to a fifth of the workforce may be off sick during the peak of an epidemic.”* As the covid-19 pandemic is reaching a critical point, it may become one of the biggest business challenges enterprises will face in 2020.
Whilst the government is stressing the importance of business-as-usual in the UK, if the virus progresses, other possible measures announced include school closures, reducing large-scale gatherings and working from home.*
As employers, we all know the critical thing is to try and contain the virus where we can and ensure we protect our employees with the right policies and procedures.
Now, more than ever, it’s critical to have a robust Business Continuity Plan and a workplace that is ready to adapt and scale. Below, I share the steps we at CANCOM have taken to enable remote working and 5 key steps for business continuity from an IT perspective.
Coronavirus and Remote Working
As a tech company, we’ve been able to fully embrace a modern workplace set up, with most of our employees using laptop-based devices equipped with Windows 10, Office 365 and the Enterprise Mobility + Security Suite. Remote working is already well established, but if needed, this can be easily scaled up to limit risk of infection further.
For example, an always-on VPN also gives the connectivity our staff would expect as if they were on site. Additionally, most of our business services are delivered from the Cloud meaning we can scale quickly when required. Plus, a lot of bandwidth and connectivity issues can be routed via standard internet connections removing the dependency on our core networks.
As a failsafe we have a cloud-based desktop environment which we can burst into should any end users not have their work devices. This desktop environment has security in place to protect our data but allows any user to connect into a working environment – so long as they can prove they are who they say they are.
This architecture allows us to flex and change in line with challenges such as covid-19. We’re confident with this approach we will limit the risk of our business slowing down and most importantly can protect our employees by providing the option to work remotely, or from home.
We already use Microsoft Teams widely throughout our business. But for our employees not used to working from home, we can easily set up virtual teams to ensure motivation and morale stays high.
Coronavirus: The Key Steps for Business Continuity
Even if you haven’t fully moved to a Modern Workplace, having a robust business continuity plan will help you limit risk and continue to operate . Without it, there may be even greater uncertainty in what will already be a challenging situation.
We see a robust business continuity plan containing five key steps;
#1 - Understand the critical roles for your business to operate. Sounds simple, but this is often overlooked.
#2 - Ensure Remote Working is available - with the right devices and secure, remote access policies in place. Failing that, a secure remote desktop solution is the next best option. Operating a virtual desktop environment that can scale in line with your Business Continuity plan is now much easier with technologies such as Microsoft Azure and Windows Virtual Desktop.
#3 - Make sure employees can continue to access the vital data they need by delivering your business-critical applications to devices and virtual desktops.
#4 - Ensure your external access network is robust with the bandwidth to rapidly scale should large numbers of employees need to start working remotely.
#5 - Build a flexible and adaptable security configuration that allows IT to control access to external networking resources but still control and verify users.
If you are struggling with designing a robust business continuity plan or want to talk about remote working or modern workplace solutions, please get in touch. I would be happy to provide advice.
Chief Technology Officer