This is a guest post from Sara Gepp, the Founder of Close to the Earth IT Services.
The crisis over COVID-19 is causing a great deal of strain, both for us and for the businesses we're trying to keep running. It's also challenging you to move your business remote, most likely faster and earlier than you intended. There's a lot to adapt to very quickly, but it's important to keep in mind that you can do it!
You might even discover some advantages in a new way of working.
But you're right; there's a lot to do, especially in the realm of IT. As someone who specializes in helping businesses build their capacity, here's where you should start.
The first step is to determine what you will need to make remote work successful for your business. Your IT staff may not have had much, if any, opportunity for long-term planning for your business, so your objective will be to think about what you need right now for your business and fill in gaps as they come.
Make sure you're prioritizing the following areas:
I'm going to focus primarily on the technology you'll need to work effectively.
Whether working with clients or employees, your the quality and speed of your network will make a big difference in what you are able to accomplish.
Start with a free online speed test. It will measure your latency (lower is better), download, and upload speeds (higher is better). If you notice your internet is running slowly, consider upgrading your internet service for the duration of your remote work (or help your employees do the same!). The extra $20-30 can go a long way to making your life easier.
One of the only stocks that has gone up recently is Zoom, the online video meeting platform that has changed the way that we can conference online. You can even use Zoom for the greater good: Creating community meetings to connect vulnerable individuals and provide comfort while people are separated.
If you want to create some personal boundaries but you need to take calls on your cell phone, you can use a “Soft Phone” app to create a second phone number. Apps like Phone.com, Ring Central, and Sideline are great for protecting your actual phone number while having the convenience of using your personal device.
Also, for enhanced privacy online you can use a VPN service. A Virtual Private Network creates a virtual “tunnel” via the internet to protect your web browsing data and location information from your Internet Service Provider, browsers and advertisers.
The reason why you might prefer to do that is so you don’t get bombarded with targeted ads. You can search, use services and even stream media from around the globe. K-Pop fan? See the latest Korean shows. Watch Telenovelas from Venezuela. Watch British comedies. You can go anywhere in the world with a VPN without being “Geo-Fenced” in.
One feature to seek in a VPN app: You want to make sure that the company makes a pledge not to keep web traffic and cares about your privacy. Companies like Nord VPN, Surfshark and Express VPN are a few companies that keep your data safe while having many global servers to keep the service fast and reliable.
We will get through this coronavirus together as a Global Village — and we will become a lot more tech savvy when all is said and done!