After spending most of 2020 working from home, many leaders are wrestling with how to best transition workers back to the office. Recent studies indicate that most organizations are choosing a “hybrid” work model, which in most cases means working in the office a couple days each week. Coming to the office, even if only on a part-time basis, permits employees to gradually reinstate boundaries between work and home life, distinctions that perished for most people during the pandemic.
Regardless of whether your organization is adopting a hybrid work model or bringing all employees back to the office, here are a few technology tips for your organization to consider as you prepare for post-pandemic work life.
Expect shipping delays for laptops and other hardware.
The demand for laptop and desktop computers surged in 2020 and supply chains have yet to catch up. Industry leaders say the worldwide global chip shortage will continue to have a severe impact on production capabilities until at least the first or second quarter of 2022. If your organization is planning to invest in new computers in the next two years, we recommend placing those orders ASAP (especially when ordering in bulk).
Create (or update) your cybersecurity plan
Organizational security should be a core business focus, especially for the post-pandemic workplace. In early June, the White House warned American businesses to take urgent security measures to protect against ransomware attacks. The open letter urged companies to adopt many of the same defensive steps that it has recently required of federal agencies and companies conducting business with the government. These steps include employing a zero-trust security model, accelerating movement to secure cloud services and consistently deploying foundational security tools such as multifactor authentication and encryption. The full report can be found on the official White House Website.
Responding to a data breach is much like disarming a bomb: every second counts. In many cases, swift, decisive action can drastically mitigate the damage wrought by cybercriminals. Creating a cybersecurity plan involves identifying the key stakeholders and your IT assets, assessing your threats, cataloging your IT assets and creating a procedure to handle potential threats. Once the plan is created, it’s important to test for vulnerabilities on a regular basis. While this exercise might not sound fun, having a plan in place can save your organization a world of pain.
Ensure your organization maintains OFFLINE backups
When ransomware strikes, the malware can attack anything the infected system has access to, so keeping an offline backup can mitigate this risk. The main concept is that these backups should not be accessible from your network at all, if possible. If your backups are online, make sure access is not tied to a domain account and the system is as segmented as possible from the rest of the network.
Embrace Security Awareness Training: Your employees will thank you for it.
Though mostly unintentional, human error is the main cause of cyber security incidents. But most organizations continue to invest almost exclusively on technology, not users, to ensure that phishing and spearfishing attempts are detected before a user clicks on them. No employee wants to be the cause of a data breach but given that they are the last line of defense for any organization, they should be consistently trained on what to be on the lookout for and how to deal with potential threats.
Most Security Awareness Training programs are entirely online and are very affordable (plans typically start around $2/month/user).
Continue investing in the right technology
When the lockdowns began, organizations with the right technology in place were able to transition seamlessly, while organizations who were unprepared spent much of 2020 playing catchup. The pandemic accelerated the shift to a digital world, so business leaders should be very mindful of what technology investments they’ll need in the future. For example, many small businesses who have traditionally purchased desktop computers for their employees are realizing that a laptop with multiple monitors offers more flexibility, particularly in a hybrid work model.
If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that our working environments need to be agile and flexible enough to allow employees to work and collaborate with colleagues and customers wherever they are based, while remaining secure and manageable. And, despite the lack of certainty over the past year and a half, this new permanence is one that business leaders can take to the bank (pun intended).
Organization is a great descriptor here, especially compared to “company.” Organization includes potential non-profits, such as credit unions. [EE1]