COVID-19: What to consider before your employees work from home

Tech Blog
March 16, 2020
Corona Virus

With much of the UK workforce facing the prospect of self-isolation, business owners may be concerned with how their workforce is going to remote work successfully. An additional concern brought about by COVID-19 for business owners is how it would be possible to continue to operate when staff may need to go into self-isolation.

In these challenging times, it has been stated by the ICO that "companies that require employees to work remotely will still need to consider the same kind of security measures for home working that would be used in normal circumstances." This means that your organisation has to review your current data protection and operational risks to mitigate and create a secure remote working environment for your employees. So, what are the challenges your business will need to consider?

Will you need to change existing processes?

Some of your business processes will be easier to move to remote working than others. The first thing to think about is understanding how each of your processes operate:

  • Which of your processes are either critical and/or high-risk?
  • Which processes require¬†someone's physical presence? (including¬†any processes that are required to maintain your IT infrastructure)
  • Are any of your systems only accessible from the office, or only from specific IP addresses?
  • Do you have any processes that can't be easily moved online e.g paper-based processes?

If you haven't already, we would suggest focusing on your critical and high-risk processes, identifying and mapping where the biggest problems can occur and what will cause the biggest impact.

What equipment is required for remote working?

When considering remote working for your employees, you need to identify what hardware is required for each individual to work home successfully.

They will most likely need:

  • Internet access
  • Computer equipment
  • Telephone
  • Printer
  • Scanner
  • Filing cabinets
  • Secure authentication devices
  • Shredders

Not all employees will have access to everything they may need when remote working. It's extremely important to understand that domestic equipment, such as household Wi-Fi routers, affect information security and data protection. Understanding the risks can help you provide your employees with the right information to deal with these risks.

Could sensitive data be at risk?

Households can be accessed by all sorts of people that wouldn't have access to your office, so it's important to asses the risks of this:

  • Does anyone who has access to the household have a criminal record e.g. Fraud?
  • Will remote workers be sharing equipment, such as laptops, with other residents of the household?

What you will most likely find is each individual will have different risks associated with them. Here, you can consider whether an individual will require any additional training or equipment to successfully remote work and keep your company data secure.

What new technology might you need to introduce?

Enforcing remote working means its highly likely you will have to increase your teleconference and videoconferencing capacity. You can do this by introducing new software such as Microsoft Teams.

To help you think through the challenges associated with switching from face-to-face to virtual meetings, carry out a Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) - this will also assess the data protection risks.

Consider the following:

  • The ways in which employees will share information with each other
  • Who will need the ability to access video or phone conference calls? How will you limit access etc...
  • Will you need to provide support for installing and using the new software? If so, how will you provide this?

How will you manage staff who are working from home?

Whether remote working is an occasional requirement for self-isolation or a new regular working pattern for some or all parts of your organisation, data protection laws should be seen as necessary practice to ensure your organisation and employees are kept as safe as possible, no matter what their working environment is.

At The One Point, we can provide you with the guidance and confidence you are looking for when it comes to transitioning to a remote workforce.

We can provide you with hardware, software and 24/7 support, to ensure you can carry on 'business-as-usual', regardless of where your employees are working.

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