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At the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, most business leaders were focused on a singular goal: transition as many employees to working remotely as possible.  And many have accomplished that first goal. An April Gallup poll found the number of employees who had worked from home has doubled since March, tallying a majority at 62% of employed Americans.  Racing to settle employees in home offices in a manageable way may have sufficed back in March, but now that we’re into June and still seeing no vaccine or a subsiding of cases as of this publication, businesses leaders need to set the bar higher for how they support their remote workforce. For businesses to remain competitive in an economic downturn, it is essential to ensure remote work remains productive and secure. Many, including tech giant Facebook, are skeptical we’ll ever return to the office exactly the way we did before the pandemic. Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg told the New York Times, “It’s clear that COVID has changed a lot about our lives, and that certainly includes the way that most of us work. Coming out of this period, I expect that remote work is going to be a growing trend as well.” With remote work more widely embraced, businesses need to expect more from their remote software, business apps, and technology strategy. 

Technology Development to Mitigate Risk

When PWC surveyed finance leaders earlier this year, 41% named impact on the workforce and the reduction to productivity as a top-three COVID-19 related concern.  Now that many employees are settled safely at home, business leaders need to review their technology infrastructure, expecting more than just connectivity. A robust remote environment prioritizes three areas, according to PWC:
  1. Staying connected with employees.
Staying connected with employees during this time requires more than a daily standup, though that’s a good starting point.  Business leaders need to maintain a view of employees that including working mode, specific considerations, technology barriers, and any solutions in place. Implementing a workforce management software or application enables leaders to dynamically adapt to changes in the workforce, rebalance workloads, and better support employees. For example, if a neighborhood is subject to a sudden power outage, business leaders can leverage the tool to understand the impact on the business, and quickly allocate work to employees in other areas. And, with a technology solution, they can also keep in mind in real-time any employees who may be out for sick or PTO.  Keep in mind, this implementation requires careful consideration to ensure this helpful view isn’t violating privacy.
     2. Analyzing and controlling security gaps in the remote workforce.
The sprint to remote work required many businesses to gloss over standard change management processes and policies, while at the same time tools including virtual meeting, live streaming automated customer support, business intelligence powered by machine learning and more online education.  The flurry to connect and support employees could have left many critical questions unaddressed, including:
  • Which assets can remote users access?
  • How carefully have these solutions been vetted?
  • What file sharing and applications are employees using on the network?
Now is a prime time to ensure your business technology security is back on track. Business leaders should assess these key areas:
  1. Who has access to what?
  2. What controls are currently in place? (And, keep in mind, they are probably controls made when most of the employees worked in the office).
  3. What threats are being created by employees, even if unintentionally?
  4. What new policies should be added for remote work?
  5. What other operational or regularly and compliance risks need to be managed?
        3. Securing the remote and distributed model for the long term.
Especially in an economic downturn, the recommendation to invest can be difficult to accept. And yet businesses – if they haven’t already – must invest in strong network architecture, cutting-edge access management, and richly experienced IT professionals in order to support a robust remote solution that not only gives employees the right access and tools but also ensures business risks are managed. 

Artificial Intelligence and Information Security

Not only did demand on the technology infrastructure increase as employees dispersed to home offices, but the security risk expanded also. Mobile devices and services and cloud deployments have expanded the areas vulnerable to attack. Even in early February, Security Intelligence cautioned the volume of security alerts sent to most security analysts made it impossible to sort through, often leaving significant potential risks unaddressed. The industry is already struggling with a talent gap, so even if a business could invest in multiple new salaries, finding the right resources might be unlikely. But businesses can implement an AI solution to help identify threats, resource, and ultimately prioritize alerts to help focus human talent on the right resources.

Implementing a technology infrastructure for the future

Whether today is the first chance you’ve had to reconsider your technology strategy post-COVID or you’re already overhauling your technology roadmap, TechGenies can support your business with the right technology solution. Benefit from our top IT talent and expansive experience, whether you need a partner for custom software development, an AI implantation, or a complete strategy overhaul. Tell us how we can help you get ready for tomorrow at info@techgenies.com