The global circumstances around the coronavirus outbreak continues to evolve daily as new cases are reported around the world and no aggressively in the USA.
While it’s not my intent to alarm or cause unnecessary panic, I believe that businesses should remain vigilant as this epidemic unfolds and now prepare to minimize risk and maximize efficiency.
My team at TOSS C3, is closely monitoring the situation and has already taken proactive steps and put contingency plans in place to mitigate TOSS’ risks and those of the cloud services our clients use.
Here are some Technology considerations to assist you in immediately implementing plans to minimize the business impact and risk exposure your company or firm faces, in the event of a widespread Coronavirus outbreak.
Potential Risk Scenarios that You Should Consider
- Protecting staff members from infection through transmission in the office
- Need for employees to work from home to in the event they are ill
- Quarantine restrictions imposed by authorities
- Quarantine for employees traveling from regions of risk
- Quarantine for employees who have household members who may be ill
- School closures that force employees to stay home for childcare
- Employees unwilling to take the risk of coming into the office
Elevated Risk from Phishing Attacks and Other Scams
- As with any world news, there are already Coronavirus phishing messages and scams that are making the rounds.
- Remind your staff to be extra careful about clicking on links or opening attachments in emails about coronavirus (even if they appear to come from inside the company).
Shared Devices and Workspaces
- Reduce the use of shared computers and workspaces: Keyboards, mice and touchscreens are great surfaces for viruses, especially if you provide public-facing IT services.
- Use dedicated laptops/desktops for staff members or dedicated mobile devices such as tablets and phones so that devices are not shared.
- Keypads for doors and other shared office equipment (printers, fax machines, scanners, photocopiers, etc.)
- Ensure shared workspaces are cleaned more regularly with anti-bacterial products.
- Ensure hand sanitizer is available by all shared equipment and common areas.
- Talk to the janitorial staff about more frequent cleaning, especially all surfaces.
- Keyboards and Mice can be cleaned with NON-BLEACH Clorox or Lysol wipes. (I recommend leaving wipes and hand sanitizer in your boardrooms and close to all shared equipment)
- Please review your business continuity plan and make any necessary updates.
- I recommend having a discussion with your staff now and make sure your plans are complete.
- The scenario you should be planning for is a 2+ week closure of the office(s), which hopefully would be the worst-case scenario.
- Make sure that your contact list of cell phone numbers and home phone numbers is up to date in case you’re unable to reach people via email and need to urgently communicate.
Working From Home
- Now is a good time to review the list of people who have the ability to work remotely.
- There are a number of scenarios where the ability to work remotely will become a necessity during the different phases of the outbreak
- If your office needs to be closed for 2+ weeks, make sure that everyone who needs remote access has it.
- Ensure that critical business functions can be performed remotely in the event that key employees are unable to access the office.
- If your employees occasionally work remotely, have them test their remote connectivity in the next few days.
- If your employees don’t have laptops but may be expected to work from home, now is the time to consider getting them company-issued laptops or cloud terminals.
- Be careful not to compromise security by letting employees use personal computers that bypass all of your cybersecurity measures.
Phone System Access from Home
- Ensure that if your Business Continuity Plan calls for forwarding phones to cellular phones that this has been tested and your employees know how to set this up.
- If you have a VoIP system, you should be able to allow access to phones on your employees’ laptop computers or desk phones they can take from the office, make sure this has been setup and tested as soon as possible.
- Provide or ensure that your employees have access to headsets to access the VoIP phone systems on their laptop computers, if they don’t have a physical VoIP phone to use at home.
Collaboration and Remote Meetings
- Make sure that any web conferencing tools that you use have a subscription large enough to handle your entire team, if needed.
Supply Chain Disruptions with Electronic Equipment
- With supply lines from China disrupted, we are starting to see shortages in technology products including laptops, desktop computers and monitors.
- If you’re planning any technology purchases in 2020, consider expediting them and buying now.
- If your employees don’t have laptops but may be expected to work from home, now is the time to buy them.
Other Valuable Information
There are many articles and news sites providing information about protecting the health and safety of employees and family members.
McKinsey & Company has a great article on COVID-19 Implications for Business:
The US Government Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have also provided guidance for businesses about the coronavirus COVID-19:
CDC Recommended Best Practices:
- Encourage sick employees to stay home.
- Separate and send home employees that become sick at work.
- Ensure respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene are used by employees.
- Perform routine environmental cleaning.
- Approach travel more cautiously.
The Government of Canada has a page to stay current on the situation here: