Yesterday the Government announced that the UK would be moving from Stage 1 (Containment stage) to Stage 2 (delay stage) this week, as more people are forced to self-isolate and more schools and businesses are closed in reaction to the rapid spread of COVID-19.

Cabinet ministers met yesterday to discuss what steps would be enforced as part of the delay stage. Currently the Government are not asking businesses to force team members to work from home, however it is critical that businesses begin to plan a strategy in the case that the Government do enforce a similar policy.

When creating a Working From Home (WFH) Contingency Plan there are a number of factors that you as a business owner must take into consideration;

Creating a plan that allows your team and business to operate as efficiently as possible

Sufficient planning and preparation are required to ensure your team are able to work to the best standards when WFH. A lot has to be taken into consideration during planning and preparation, and you may find that spending is required to provide your team with the tools they need.

Things to think about?

  • Prioritising your team ? like every business, there are team members who have more important and critical work and they need to be prioritised. Think about these users before anyone else.
  • Team Members Equipment ? Do your team members have all the equipment needed to work from home? Working from home isn?t as easy as handing a team member a fully built laptop. They may need a mouse, keyboard, headset or a second screen in order to work efficiently. A key question you will need to ask every team member is whether they have internet access at home. Is their internet wireless, wired or both? This information is critical to understanding what equipment your team members require.

Creating a plan that ensures that your data will remain protected

Allowing your team to WFH opens your business up to a lot of security threats. Your team and data are no longer under one roof protected by your secure network. Instead, your data could be all over the UK, sat behind very basic home firewalls and you can?t say for certain who is sat at the keyboard.

Things to think about?

  • Users working securely ? Every business should have an IT security policy in place for any device used to connect to your businesses network or to work on your businesses data. All devices should have the correct security programs and settings in place before team members are allowed to use them.
  • Personal devices – Your business may not have the inventory or budget available to provide all of your team the equipment they require. How your users will be connecting to your network and working on your data is dependant on whether or not this should be allowed. Team members may request to work on their personal devices and therefore you may be required to enforce policies which enforce security checks and security changes before and after the devices are used to work on.
  • Looking after your assets ? Asset labelling and documenting all business equipment is imperative before allowing users to take home with them. Recording this helps protect your business from any stolen, loss or damages to your business assets.
  • Updating any insurance policies that you have to ensure all of this equipment is added is also something to remember, and you may want to speak to your HR department about creating contractual agreements before your users take any of your equipment home with them.

Educating your team

Your team may need to be shown how to properly setup and work before leaving the office, while also being taught the correct security procedures required to ensure your data remains secure. It is critical to every business that their team has the basic knowledge and understanding of IT security when in the office, but they will need educating even more when they are using your data away from your secure network.

  • Knowing how to work from home ? Ideally you want to make it as easy as possible for your team to setup and work, but no matter how easy it is it may still be worth having a demonstration for all team members before they leave.
  • Educating your users security knowledge ? Your team will more than likely be working on your devices and data on a basic home network, which will include a very basic home firewall. It is imperative that your team have the awareness, understanding and education required before they are allowed to work from home.
  • Creating HR policies ? You may want to speak to your HR team about creating contractual agreements outlining your teams responsibilities when working with your data and equipment.

Businesses who have IT departments and a HR team should be discussing these points with them. As a business owner, it is in your responsibility to ensure that all of the above is taken into consideration. Consistently liaising with your IT and HR teams and then coming to a strong, concluded plan is needed as soon as possible during a time of particular uncertainty.

How Cyber Wise can help

If you need any support with getting your team set up to work from home please contact Cyber Wise on 0161 476 8276 or email?