The urgent request for organizations to initiate work-from-home (WFH) policies for their employees caught many businesses flat-footed. Luckily, MIS staff members (and the majority of our clients) were already equipped and prepared to continue serving clients from the safety of our homes. When the email went out the evening of March 15 that MIS employees should plan to work from home until further notice, it was a non-issue. Well, mostly a non-issue.
We had the technology and tools in place to carry on as usual, but there were new challenges with working from home that we had not dealt with before. Like our new furry coworkers who insisted on joining in and being heard on every single video conference. And the little humans who instinctively knew when mom or dad was on an important call and needed something right then.
Yep, it made for some awkward moments the first few days of WFH, but it didn’t take long to realize that every person we interacted with on the other end of the phone or in a Zoom meeting was dealing with the same distractions. Aside from kittens on keyboards, howling hounds and crying kids, transitioning to a WFH environment has been pretty seamless.
Here are some of the tools and technology we use and have recommended to our clients:
The Greenlight Cloud
MIS’s Greenlight Cloud is a private cloud solution that allows us to work from anywhere there is an internet connection. Logging in and accessing files from home is no different from logging in from the office. That’s the beauty of cloud computing. Connections to servers in our data center are private, encrypted, secure and fast. So even if a home PC is out of compliance, the company’s data is secure. None of that data ever sits on the local PC or laptop – it all remains in the data center where it is monitored, backed up and securely controlled.
Two-factor or multi-factor authentication is another security measure we use for logging into our Greenlight cloud. The way it works is a user signs in to the cloud using a user name and password. But before access to the cloud is granted, a notification is sent via the DUO security app on the user’s smartphone to verify that they are the one requesting to log in to the cloud session. The whole process takes about five seconds but adds a crucial layer of security for your organization. So even if your user name and password are stolen, a hacker cannot access your company’s data without that second step of verification.
VoIP Phone System
Through our Voice Over IP phone system, we are able to use our computers and our smartphones to answer calls just as if we were sitting in the office next to our desk phones and seamlessly transfer calls to other staff members. Our PBX dashboard lets us see who is currently available and who is tied up on a call. The mobile app on our smartphones allows us to make calls that appear to come from our office phone not our personal cell phone.
Our recommended tool for video conferencing is Zoom. It is the most popular web conferencing software for businesses and offers both a free and paid version. Because it also has a HIPAA compliant version, it is perfect for our healthcare clients who are now offering telehealth services to their patients. Zoom is super easy to set up and use and gives team members the opportunity to meet face-to-face virtually. It allows screen sharing, chatting and recording. One thing to remember about web conferencing – whether it be through Zoom, Teams or GotoMeeting, etc. – hackers and miscreants can log in just like anyone else. You’ll want to be sure to:
- All meetings are set up with passwords
- Meeting participants do not share their passwords with anyone
- Passwords are not shared publicly on social media, in email signatures or on a website
- Limit screen sharing to host only
Sending sensitive information in emails is always a big no-no whether working in the office or remotely. That’s why MIS uses secure email encryption software to send confidential information both internally and to our clients. By default, regular email is generally transmitted in plain texts across local networks and the internet making it susceptible to being intercepted and read by an attacker. With secure email solutions, emails and attachments are encrypted at each end, in transit and in storage making it highly unlikely that a hacker will be able to read them.
Internal Communication Tools
Having an internal communication tool is even more important than ever when your staff is dispersed. Without it, your team’s inboxes will become overstuffed and important messages will undoubtedly be lost. Slack is the tool we use – even before the WFH policy – because it cuts down on the amount of email in our inboxes. There is a free version (which we use) and a paid version. Aside from keeping emails to a minimum, it allows your staff to keep in contact with each other making them feel connected during this uncertain/uncharted/unprecedented/uncertain – you fill in the blank – time. Working from home can make employees feel like they’re on an island. Slack can help keep morale up and keep your employees engaged with each other.
Security Awareness Training
What ties everything together in the end is making sure your end users are educated about the dangers of cybersecurity threats. Especially during a worldwide crisis like the COVID-19 scare, employees need to be on high alert for scams, social posts and emails that try to trick them into handing over sensitive or proprietary information. Hacking groups will prey on their anxiety and fears and use every weapon in their arsenal to deceive your employees. Our own staff goes through regular security awareness training so we know how to spot a fake email. Advanced security tools and solutions can only do so much. It’s up to your employees to be the human firewall and thwart attempted attacks and breaches at the gate.
If you would like more information about tools to help your remote workforce be more productive, don’t hesitate to call your client account manager.