If there was a tale on how remote working went mainstream, it would have to list, on top, a nefarious illness that sent our countries into quarantine. Sure, it wouldn’t be the only reason. One can cite factors ranging from technology developments, cloud computing, work-life balance or even employee retention as contributors. However, how remote working became our way to cope with clients and stakeholder needs amid an unprecedented health emergency, is, by no other means, a consequence of COVID-19. It hasn’t given us, so far, any other better choice.
Until recently, remote work was performed by a minority of employees at dedicated points in time and under specific conditions. Now, it has become the new norm for many organisations. This move, powered by fiber and silicon, is stretching their ability to organise team work and to maintain efficient coordination across teams and departments in the present, but especially on the long run. On that journey, collaboration tools have gained media attention over the past weeks. They are, doubtless, of great help but they will not solve all problems.
What the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed forward is the scale of remote working usage; it’s now ubiquitous and intensively used. While remote work was involving a minority of employees at dedicated points in time and under strict conditions, it is now the new norm for many organisations. This move, powered by fiber and silicon, is stretching their ability to organise team work and to maintain efficient coordination across teams and departments, especially on the long run. On that journey, collaboration tools have gained media attention over the past weeks. They are of great help but will not solve all problems.
But there is more. Crises are the best breeding ground for bad intentions. Cyberthreats are multiplying, taking advantage of the disruption COVID-19 is causing to our lives. Even though companies are trying to respond, some good cybersecurity habits are being left behind because people’s attention is focused on other priorities like health or business continuity.
In the current situation, businesses shall accept that an unavoidable evolution of work behaviors, especially managerial, is on its way, and the need to adopt innovative tools for the business activity to continue and normalise, even under the scenario of an extended state of emergency. At company level, businesses are facing two more challenges: keeping employees up and motivated and making sure that, despite the impossibility to be physically present, they are equipped to work together, as a fully functional squad, in the best possible way. On that matter, our HR Director Lieven Lambrecht gave ten interesting tips to survive isolated remote working.
The above mentioned matters triggered this blog story. Even if the nature of the job differs from company to company, all of them must manage teams remotely and, likely, you too. We’ve been working almost remotely for the past few weeks.
We have purposely turned this article into a go-to guide, by Patrice Witz—our Digital Leader and Koen Maris—our cybersecurity leader to boost remote collaborative work. It includes security tips for your team and handy advice to run team meetings, workshops and gatherings in an efficient way.
We want to remind you to stay positive. Throughout history, humanity has proved its resilience, that’s what brought us here. We all know that every cloud has a silver lining. This crisis will likely trigger advancements in the technology around remote working, and a more consistent use of it even after the crisis is gone. It’s already making us reconsider what really matters, and the societal, business and personal aspects we must rethink to live better.
IT Security comes first: COVID-19 is an opportunity to hack
In several countries, the recommended social distancing and quarantine have been already in place for two or more weeks. Crisis management is crucial, yes, but there’s more to it than that. Most organisations have already put in place sound cybersecurity measures but you and your team play an important role for those measures to work. Bear in mind that hackers like to target employees and take advantage of their habits to find a way to attack your systems.
This is a gentle cybersecurity reminder for you and your team members:
|1) Hardware and software||2) Internet and peripherals|
|• The technology (equipment and software) your organisation has provided you with is prepared to guarantee an optimal level of security. Avoid using personal equipment. • Always ask your IT department for permission to install third-party software.||• Use your home connection, avoid free or public wi-fi connections. • Avoid using external devices such as usb, external disks to copy files.|
|3) VPN and Operating system||4) Exchange of documents & data|
|• Activate your VPN before opening your internet browser or any other tool requiring internet access (emails, SaaS-software as a service tools, cloud-based solutions, etc.) • Update your operating system and your antivirus / antimalware, especially if you use your personal computer.||• Avoid putting sensitive or confidential information —employee or client documents, for instance—online (social media, cloud storage services, etc). The same goes for sending and receiving emails from your personal mailbox.|
|5) Emails||6) Time to work|
|• Beware that phishing campaigns have increased during the COVID-19 crisis. These emails, that seem official at first glance (e.g. an email seeming to come from the Ministry of Health), encourage you to click on a link that takes you to a malicious site that collects all your data, including your bank details saved in your system.||• Avoid, as far as possible, mixing leisure and professional activities during home-based working hours to stay focused and limit any cybersecurity risks.|