As states across the country begin to cautiously reopen, organizations are beginning to return to work in their office buildings rather than telecommuting.

There are many factors to consider as employees come back to the office. This includes ensuring areas are properly sanitized, temperature checks are completed, and employees workstations are at least six feet apart to comply with social distancing guidelines. Technology is another important asset to consider when planning for employees to come back into the office.

Here are 6 things to consider as you prepare your technology for your business’ return to work.

Review I.T. Infrastructure

1. Continuing Remote Work

Many businesses are phasing the reopening of their offices, and alternating small groups of employees between working in the office and working from home. If possible, to ensure the safety of everyone in the organization, encourage continual remote work if it allows for sustainable productivity and normal levels of service. As such, it is still highly important to make sure that your VPN connection, software, applications, and networks are functional so that employees can be productive no matter their location. Furthermore, be sure your business continuity solution includes data protection for remote work, and remind employees to back up all data while working from home to protect all company information. This may be the perfect time to evaluate your storage options and investigate cloud-based storage solutions.

2. Collaboration Tools

Collaboration tools are also especially important during this time, as they continue to ease communication efforts throughout the organization. If you do not have a collaboration tool set up, contact a technical expert to consult and review options such as Microsoft Teams, WebEx, or other tools that meet your organization’s needs. Collaboration applications make documents easy to share and allow quick and seamless communication among the organization. This is useful for both productivity and company-wide communication including specific details related to going back to the office. You may have accessed tools such as WebEx or Zoom for free during this time, so consider the operational and budgetary implications of long-term usage in your future plans.

Strengthen I.T. Security I.T. Security is important for return to work

Bringing devices back to the office, and therefore back on to the company network, means opportunity for security risks. There are actions you should take to prevent potential breaches.

3. Scan Devices

Your I.T. team should scan any device before it is brought back on the network. If the devices returning to work are company supplied, then they are likely already hardened. However, it is a good practice to re-scan to protect your network. If the device is not company supplied, it should always be checked over by I.T. before being brought on to the network.

4. Utilize Network Access Control

If your business has Network Access Control, then you should utilize that feature to lock out all systems on the network. Only allow systems to connect that have been cleared by I.T. for re-connection. If your company does not have Network Access Control, then you must have a very diligent process in place to allow systems to reconnect to the business network. It will be harder to manage, but the goal is to make sure nothing rogue and unverified is added to the network. Wireless access to the private network should be turned off until all systems have been verified. Guest wireless access is acceptable.

5. Uninstall or Block Unnecessary Applications

Every employee has a device they can take back-and-forth between work and home. And employees will likely use the device for professional and personal reasons. Those personal interests may include downloading non-business-related applications, such as a streaming application. It’s best practice to make sure those non-critical business applications are uninstalled before the device is returned to the office and reconnected to the network. These have potential for vulnerabilities to your company network. Additionally, employees may have found applications for certain tasks without consulting your I.T. team for approved apps or systems. It is important to ensure those are not used and are blocked.

6. Social Awareness

Cyberattacks have increased during the pandemic. Employees are your first line of defense for corporate cybersecurity. Arming them with the tools they need to prevent a breach is an important aspect of your cyber defense plan. Continual communication with your entire organization around phishing attacks via phone, email, or text will aid in protecting your organization from an attack. Ongoing cybersecurity training and testing for employees was a best practice prior to the pandemic, although if you are not doing it already it’s time to invest.

The return to work as pandemic restrictions are lifted takes careful planning and consideration, and your organization’s I.T. is no exception. The most important elements to consider are all technological tools you have utilized and will continue to utilize, and ensure that your business is as prepared as possible for cyber threats. However, depending on your corporate structure, as well as your I.T. environment, you may have other items to assess as you put your return to work plan together.

For help preparing your technology for your organization’s reopening, contact NetGain.

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