With the blink of an eye, the coronavirus outbreak has forced many businesses to begin operating remotely. How does the small business IT infrastructure respond when there is no IT department? Many small business owners lack the technical experience to handle their computer networks or they do not wish to tackle what can be considered confusing and time consuming.
Business is operating remotely. Now what?
For most large and Enterprise sized businesses, this flip of the switch will be easier for two reasons – first, some or all of the IT infrastructure likely exists to handle this change and second, the IT staff to deploy it is already in place. It is not to say there will not be hiccups, but the transition will be smoother.
But for the small business the challenge will be greater. Small businesses lack in-house IT staff, not all employees have company-issued laptops. In addition, the software and team platforms required to work remotely may not be set up.
Important tips for small and medium sized businesses
As businesses are suddenly required to pivot to remote work, we are reminded of a few really important points in this TechRepublic piece. The pointers are important for all businesses, but especially for small to medium sizes businesses.
Perform security software and operating system updates: Small and medium sized businesses are the most vulnerable to malicious attacks. You may not think the data from your business is of any interest to anyone but you and your staff. Small and medium sized businesses are less likely to run updates on security software and their operating systems. These are critical to keeping your company information safe from cyber intruders.
Secure your VPN: Making sure that your VPN is set up in such a way that only your authorized users can access your network is imperative to make sure only you and your staff accesses your data. Traffic from other sources should be blocked so data can not be breached.
Establish and distribute IT policies: Make sure that employees clearly understand the policies and procedures for accessing the company network remotely. And working remotely really needs to be done from home (not a coffee shop) to ensure secure data transmission. If you have not already, develop, issue and have each employee sign a technology use and social media policy. BYOD (bring your own device) needs to be addressed in that policy.
Over-communicate to staff. With empathy: During times when management and staff are not under the same roof, employees can feel at a loss for leadership. This is the time to make sure your staff knows you are there for them. However, this is not a time to micro-manage. Remember, many of them are juggling the transition to working from home (likely for the first time), but also having children under foot and possibly having to teach their children how to manage technology from home. Be there for support, guidance and reassurance. Try to think of it as having a remote open-door policy.
Need help with your small business IT needs?
If your small business is now faced with staff suddenly working from home and you have no IT department to turn to, we are here to help. We have experience setting up remote work groups and can assist you with setting up remote access for your team. And we will make sure that it is done with the security of your business top of mind.