In light of the developments surrounding the Coronavirus outbreak (now known as COVID-19), we write to provide some guidance from here at SolutionWorx. It should be noted that this illness, while aggressive, ultimately belongs to the family of viruses that cause the common cold. The CDC latest fact sheet, available here https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/2019-ncov-factsheet.pdf, recommends the following ways of protection:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
In times of crisis, it is more challenging to obtain accurate and consistent data. Understanding the scope of an issue is critical to evaluate risk to your business, employees, and community. We’ve found this as a good source of raw data regarding Coronavirus: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/
CDC Recommended Strategies for Employers to Use Now
- Actively encourage sick employees to stay home
- Separate sick employees if they become sick in the workplace
- Emphasize staying home when sick, respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene by all employees
- Perform routine environmental cleaning
- Advise employees before traveling to take certain steps
- Check the CDC’s Traveler’s Health Notices for the latest guidance and recommendations for each country
- Advise employees to check themselves for symptoms of acute respiratory illness before starting travel and notify their supervisor and stay home if they are sick.
- Ensure employees who become sick while traveling or on temporary assignment understand that they should notify their supervisor and should promptly call a healthcare provider for advice if needed.
- If outside the United States, sick employees should follow your company’s policy for obtaining medical care or contact a healthcare provider or overseas medical assistance company to assist them with finding an appropriate healthcare provider in that country.
- Additional Measures in Response to Currently Occurring Sporadic Importations of the COVID-19
- Employees who are well but who have a sick family member at home with COVID-19 should notify their supervisor and refer to CDC guidance for how to conduct a risk assessment of their potential exposure.
- If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, employers should inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace but maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Employees exposed to a co-worker with confirmed COVID-19 should refer to CDC guidance for how to conduct a risk assessment of their potential exposure.
Preparing your IT for Flexible Worksites and Telecommuting
Ensuring you have the information technology and infrastructure needed to support employees who may be able to or need to work from home during any type of quarantine is important to ensure business continuity.
Most modern business phones systems have the ability to forward extensions to another phone number. Ensuring all employees are knowledgeable and capable of configuring their office phone to forward to a phone number they will have access to during a time of remote work will ensure that communication channels over phone will continue. If employees have remote IP phones, soft phones, or apps that integrate with your phone system, they will be able to remain in contact through those means.
Email is a critical component of communication within many organizations. If your organization uses a cloud-based email system like Office 365, employees will be able to continue to send and receive email through their mobile device(s), web interface, or email clients without interruption. If an on-premises mail server is in use, check with your employees to confirm they have access to work email through their mobile device(s), web interface, or desktop applications while working remotely.
Organizational intellectual property is often stored on file servers. Organizations that use cloud-based file systems, like Egnyte, will be able to continue to access company files through a web portal or mapped drives into the cloud file storage system. If you organization does not leverage a cloud-based file system, please ensure that employees have remote access to mission critical data via a VPN connection from remote locations.
Remote Systems Access
Workstations within a business often contain line of business applications that are often critical to running a business. Many of these applications have moved to software-as-service models and/or cloud hosted solutions. However, there is still a significant number of these applications that need to run within a local business network. If employees are unable to make it to the office and don’t have remote access to their systems, applications like Splashtop are easy to install, configure, and give employees the ability to work on their office workstation in a secure manner.
Meetings are necessary part of business that are often difficult to do remotely without the right technology. Sharing presentations and screens with others can easily be done with either Microsoft Teams or Zoom Meetings. Both of these offer the ability to provide remote attendees call in numbers or the ability to use that computer’s speakers and microphones to communicate with other attendees.
SolutionWorx Continuity of Operations Plan
SolutionWorx has an internal Disaster Recovery & Business Continuity Plan already in place to provide direction to our team in the event that a pandemic infection poses a health and safety threat to SolutionWorx customers, vendors, employees, or otherwise threatens our ability to effectively deliver business services.
In preparation for any disaster or outbreak, SolutionWorx is prepared to implement our Disaster Recovery & Business Continuity Plan, in whole or in part if required, in the event any country or city or state is designated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as Level 1 – “Limited Community Transmission” or higher. The following protocols will be implemented prior to or upon such designation. In some cases, in the interest of ample caution, we have already started on some of the below:
- Expand cleaning frequencies in high traffic common areas and provide hand sanitizers
- Transition to a minimum critical onsite staff level and identify staff who must be on-site and prepared to shelter in place for several days, if necessary
- Direct non-critical staff who can work from home but remain available to maintain service continuity
- Engage vendors to confirm their capacity to provide service continuity and compile a list of secondary suppliers for critical services
- Execute a Customer Communication plan with real-time updates of operation status and risk
- Maintain current guidance as issued by the government and/or ruling health organizational body
Our top priorities – now and always – are the business continuity of our customers along with the health and safety of our employees, families, and our communities. Our most profound gratitude is with those in the medical profession on the front lines of confronting this public health emergency. We feel it is our obligation to share ideas of due diligence that should be considered by business owners, executives, and managers to ensure that your operations continue as “business as usual” if the spread of Coronavirus would require individuals to work remotely at any point in time.
Please reach out to your SolutionWorx Customer Success Manager if you have any questions about your preparedness or any of the technologies mentioned in this post.