Clients have begun reaching out regarding continued business operations in the event of a virus outbreak. Specifically, they are interested in reviewing how they can operate if a decision is made to restrict access to their offices. While the current discussion is catalyzed by COVID-19 virus fears, the topic is truly about business continuity irrespective of a specific event. Any event – fire, storm, virus or other – could be cause for this restriction.
For organizations that do not have a remote access solution in place, current events may be enough to warrant revisiting the need to implement one. For those organizations that do have remote access solutions in place, now is the time to review their environment and ensure scale.
Why is scale important? Many organizations have either built, or deployed their remote access solution, exclusively for use under normal circumstances such as teleworkers, travelling workers and workers that supplement their office hours with night and weekend work. These organizations may have a specific policy or infrastructure limitation that restricts remote access to the general user population.
Depending on the infrastructure, scaling up may require additional hardware. However, most organizations are now operating in virtual or cloud-based environments where scale is just a few clicks away. Now is the time to begin planning out the process, requirements and timing in case an office closure becomes necessary.
Once physical scale requirements are reviewed and under control, you need to review your licensing agreements. If your organization requires MFA and remote access licenses for external users, consider increasing the license count now – before they are needed.
Next, ensure end-user documentation is up-to-date and optimized. Be sure to take into account that users in a business continuity event may be operating in less than comfortable circumstances and will likely need to install applications on their mobile devices and personal computers. As a result, your IT staff will be stretched so having good documentation in place will reduce your users’ need to rely on the IT department. Give your documentation a review and then consider redistributing it to all users, in paper form, so that they will have it in an easy-to-use format should the need arise.
Further, depending on the cause of your office closure, your IT staff may not be operating at full strength so having the proper documentation will help everything run smoother.
In addition, now might be a good time to revisit the organization’s work from home policy – if users aren’t feeling well or have been around others who aren’t well, it may be in your best interest to have them work from home until they can be sure they are not contagious. Finally, let everyone know that working through a business continuity event is not the same as a normal business day. Some things may take longer, some things may not be as simple. Remind people that everyone is working through this together.
For up-to-date information about the novel coronavirus check out the CDC.gov COVID-19 micro-site.