Ready or not, UK businesses are about to face a sudden remote-working test run. Since Covid-19 first took root in Wuhan China early this year, businesses across the globe have been forced to allow widespread remote working to minimise the risk of contagion. However, many IT teams and business owners are questioning whether their infrastructure has the capacity to support large numbers of home workers.
Given the vast technological advancements of the digital age, all businesses both large and small should have the ability to work at home or in the office (if their job role allows). Although, the Covid-19 crisis is set to have a substantial impact on businesses around the world, it could also be the catalyst for many to finally revaluate their outdated remote working policies. After all, to remain resilient throughout a crisis like this, you must ensure your business is able to ‘keep calm and carry on’.
What can UK businesses expect in the upcoming months?
According to the latest information which is available on the government website, ‘it is possible that up to one-fifth of employees may be absent from work during peak weeks. This may vary for individual businesses.’ Public Health England have also warned that a worst-case scenario could mean 80% of the population will contract Covid-19. However, if we are to take note of badly affected countries like China and Italy, there is a possibility that the whole of the UK could be locked down for several weeks if a major outbreak occurs.
Yesterday the government unveiled its multi-billion-pound budget spending plans which aims to support UK businesses and the NHS throughout the Coronavirus crisis. This proposes to reduce businesses rates, partially fund statutory sick pay and introduce a new business loan scheme for businesses with cashflow issues during this time. Although this funding will undoubtedly reduce the economic impact across the UK, will it be enough? In order to avoid a large-scale economic crash, all business owners have a duty to ensure operations remain up and running throughout the coming months.
But what are the challenges that businesses are facing?
- Lack of security- Businesses with outdated security infrastructure's simply cannot accommodate remote working. This is largely due to the security implications of having limited network visibility. If they are unable to see or control devices/users connecting to the corporate network, the security of critical data is put at risk.
- Lack of employee trust- Unfortunately, many employers still lack trust, they believe that employees must be in the office from 9-5 to prove they are working productively. However, it is now widely agreed that a modern-day work life balance should involve flexible working. For many this not only improves productivity, it also means they're not paying to commute, adding to their carbon footprint or having to buy daily lunch.
- Lack of VPN capacity- As security experts, we have seen that many businesses seeking support do not have the VPN hardware or licence capacity to support their entire workforce at home. It is important to check this so that you can make the necessary adjustments to support your network needs. Once you have this in place have a ‘work at home day’ to test the effectiveness of the VPN.
- BYOD- Personal laptops and mobiles do not usually have the same necessary security features that are required on corporate devices. When a user connects a personal device to your network, it could expose your business to unwarranted security threats.
How should businesses be preparing for the effect of Covid-19? Take advantage of exclusive Cisco Deals
Just like with cyber-attacks, your business needs to be prepared for the ‘worst case scenario’. To reduce the risk of business downtime, you need to have a tried and tested continuity plan in place. Businesses who are not future planning at this point are far more likely to take a financial hit due to the effects of Covid19.
To help global businesses achieve secure and seamless remote working during this crisis, Cisco are offering a range of limited deals for both existing and new customers. Read on to find out more.
Achieving remote working agility involves multiple controls and processes which are outlined below:
- Cisco Umbrella- Protects users from malicious Internet destinations whether they are on or off the network. Cisco Umbrella is cloud delivered which makes it easy to protect users everywhere in minutes. Cisco is currently allowing existing customers to exceed their user limit to support an increase in remote workers, and new customers can access a free license.
- Cisco Duo 2FA- Allows businesses to verify users’ identities and establish device trust before granting access to corporate applications and critical data. This zero-trust security model helps to decrease the attack surface and reduce the risk of suffering a breach. During this time Cisco are allowing existing customers to increase their user limit to support an increase in remote workers, and new customers can also access a free license.
- Cisco AnyConnect VPN- This Secure Mobility Client empowers employees to work from anywhere on company laptops or BYOD. It also allows your IT teams to gain in depth visibility and control so they can identify who is accessing the corporate network. Cisco are allowing existing AnyConnect customers to exceed their user limit to support an increase in remote workers, and new customers can access a free license.
- Communication is key- When it comes to remote working, ‘teamwork makes the dream work’. To avoid employees feeling isolated and promote business success, departments and teammates should be in regular communication. This can be achieved through applications such as Cisco WebEx or Microsoft Teams instant messaging. In China, up to 22 times as many people are using Cisco's Webex since the Coronavirus appeared. Cisco Webex has announced that they have expanded the capabilities of their free offering in a bid to support the global business landscape during this crisis.
Enable your remote workforce today
By changing your remote working policies, you are not only preparing for the effects of Covid19, but also uncontrollable events which may affect your business in the future. This includes adverse weather conditions like the ‘beast from the east’ or the widespread flooding which recently devasted many communities in the UK. Using advanced technologies, businesses can empower their remote workforce to remain agile and resilient throughout the challenging times ahead.
If you would like to find out more about these exclusive Cisco deals for WebEx, Cisco Umbrella, Cisco Duo or AnyConnect VPN please call us on 0121 663 0055 to find out more. If you would like to talk to a Cyber Security expert about how we help you secure remote workers in preparation for the Covid19 outbreak, please get in touch today!