COVID-19 has spread across the United States, and many businesses have taken action by asking their employees to work remotely.
But protecting your business and workers during this pandemic means much more than working from home. Workers need to be prepared for abrupt workplace changes. And while technological advances are playing a significant role in enabling a smooth transition to remote working, some businesses weren’t as prepared to handle the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you find your business has experienced several road bumps during your transition to remote work, it’s likely your IT company hasn’t been the best partner for you. Below are four signs that your IT company failed to prepare you for the worst-case scenario and it’s time to look for a new provider:
1. Your Team Struggles to Communicate Effectively
One of the biggest challenges of remote work is learning how to effectively communicate and share information between coworkers and customers. Not having solutions in place to promote effective communication can negatively affect productivity and even cause customer loss.
Simple remote collaboration solutions such as Microsoft Teams can facilitate employee collaboration on group tasks and projects by offering remote document management features. Microsoft Teams also allows you to consolidate your applications into one managed platform, helping you cut back on separate programs or software and save money.
If your IT provider failed to provide you with remote collaboration tools and solutions as part of your business continuity plan, you’ve likely already experienced lower productivity. To repair this and pave the way for enhanced collaboration within your business, look for a provider who offers collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams solutions.
2. You Have Trouble Accessing Files and Programs
The most common barrier to productivity is the lack of easy and secure access to your required data. Poor data collection and reporting systems are causing businesses to waste a lot of time on annoying tasks like copy and pasting information from one system to the other, which can not only be tedious but also unsafe. Companies need reliable tools to ensure they can securely access business data from remote locations.
Rather than sharing files through public or open Internet connections, your employees should be accessing data through a VPN or secure cloud solutions. If you normally rely on in-house servers to access and protect data, a VPN (virtual private network) is optimal for creating a secure connection to your servers that cannot be accessed by unauthorized users. Cloud solutions are great for businesses who need remote access to data not held within onsite servers but still secured from unauthorized access.
Your IT provider should have prepared you for remote data access by implementing either a VPN or cloud solutions. If they did not prepare you for safe information access, this is a sign that your data could be at risk of being stolen or compromised. The wisest option is to look for a provider who offers secure managed VPN or cloud solutions to protect your business data.
3. Your Security Didn’t Change at All
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, just 29 percent of Americans were able to work from home before the pandemic. Nowadays, workers are left with no choice but to work remotely, yet many businesses have not upgraded their cybersecurity to meet these new circumstances.
Working remotely can increase a company’s attack risk because workers are using their own devices and networks. With personal devices being used to access or even store data, threat actors are more likely to take advantage of weak Internet connections or poor laptop security to steal said data.
The good news is that there are ways to stay safe when using the Internet remotely; for instance, you can use firewalls, anti-malware, spam filtering, and enlighten your team on the importance of secure passwords. If your cybersecurity was not upgraded to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and remote working, you should seek out a provider who offers more advanced security services.
4. They Offer No Advice Regarding Hardware and Software
Many companies have realized that they have had to revamp certain hardware or software within their infrastructure to maintain productivity while working remotely. The tools you’re accustomed to using may have been optimal for onsite work, but remote work requires you to reevaluate these tools to better streamline communications and processes while working from home.
The role of your IT service provider should have been to advise your business on what new equipment would be needed to safely and efficiently transition your workforce to remote working. Whether you needed new computers for your employees, a custom software to manage new administrative tasks, or cloud storage solutions, your IT provider should have consulted you on these tools as part of your business continuity plan.
If they did not, you should partner with a Managed Service Provider who offers comprehensive IT consulting services to ensure you have the best solutions for your business both while working remotely and for when you return to onsite work.
What to Do Now
Working from home can be taxing for some businesses, especially when you are not getting the interaction with colleagues and customers as you were used to. However, businesses that were properly prepared for the coronavirus outbreak have had a much more smooth transition to remote work that allows them to maintain productivity and communication with their team.
If your IT provider didn’t prepare you for the circumstances created by the current global pandemic, this is a big red flag that they are not the right partner for you. You need IT services that can be flexible enough to adapt to unforeseen circumstances and help your business thrive in the meantime.
Tolar Systems can help you optimize your systems now and prepare for the future by offering services such as upgraded cybersecurity, Microsoft Teams management, and IT consulting. If you’d like to learn more about our business continuity services for companies throughout Texas, contact us today.