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It’s Time for Reopening Your Business: Is Your Network Ready?
We are seeing a slow, steady return to “normal,” and that means employees coming back to the office, logging on to their devices, and getting about the “business” of your business. Are you ready for reopening your business?
It’s more than hand-sanitizer and masks. Read on to see how you can really prepare your office and network for the grand re-opening. Ready to grab a list and get started? Check out our free IT checklist for reopening your business.
Physical Damages Can Put a Damper on Everything
With businesses being physically closed for several months, your employees could be walking into a far different situation than when they left. No one has been on-site to keep an eye on things, and you will need to do a thorough walk-through before reopening your business to make sure your office spaces are ready for your employees.
Flooding and vandalism are just two things to look for. Clogged plumbing, leaking or broken faucets, cracked or broken windows can occur, especially if maintenance crews haven’t been on site keeping an eye on things while your doors were closed. Do a walk through and make sure the office is structurally intact, plumbing is in working order, and there are no damages due to vandals.
Rodent or Bug Infestations:
Generally, human activity keeps pests at bay. You may return to find some unwanted visitors have taken up residence in your absence. Your walkthrough should include checking under desks, in corners, in the bathrooms, and in the break room for signs of bugs, like ants or roaches, and rodent droppings.
Signs of Theft
Bad guys don’t take time off, and they certainly don’t respect boundaries or quarantine rules. You may find your devices, supplies, and more missing if your office didn’t have a reliable security force keeping track of the office suites.
Before reporting a break-in, however, call your employees and make sure they didn’t take equipment to work from home. Touch base with your employees via email and remind them to bring back all borrowed equipment including phones, laptops, docking stations, and headsets.
Cobwebs, Dust, and Dirt (Oh My!)
Were trashcans dumped, coffee mugs rinsed, and the refrigerator cleaned out before you left? Cobwebs are just abandoned spider webs full of dust; don’t be surprised to find a few of these in your corners when you reopen for business. Expect to bring your cleaning crew in to tidy up and disinfect before bringing your employees back. Don’t forget to clean your appliances before first use.
Signs of Mold and Mildew in Water Lines and Reservoirs
Appliances that have not been run may have a build-up of old, stagnant water in reservoirs and water lines. Flush them out and change filters.
Is Your Network Ready for Reopening your Business?
Now that your bugs have been squashed, trashcans dumped, and that leaking sink fixed it’s time to sit down and fire up your computer. Or is it?
Power Surges and More
Your devices and hardware should be checked for damage and dust accumulation before attempting to use them. Power surges, shorts, and a buildup of dust inside the hard drives could cause serious problems when firing up those devices for the first time. Check all plugs for signs of blackening caused by electrical issues, and make sure your devices are firmly plugged in. If you use power strips, check them to make sure they haven’t tripped.
Frayed or Loose Connections
This is the perfect opportunity for you to check your network connections. Make sure they are firmly in place, and there is no fraying or breakage in the connections or wiring.
Dust, hair, crumbs and more have probably built up in your computers, keyboards, and towers. You can use compressed air or an electric blower to clean out hardware vents, fans and keyboards. Cleaning your hardware prevents fire and keep your equipment working optimally.
Allow Considerable Time for Employees to Connect
Some of your network settings may have automatically disabled while you were gone, and your computers will require extra time to run all updates and patches that have occurred since your devices were last used. Don’t expect that your employees will be able to log on and work immediately.
Also consider your IT department’s ticket load when you return to work. This may the time to hire on temporary IT professionals or outsource some services (co-managed options) to allow your IT department to catch up on the backlog.
Reopening Your Business Means Double Checking Network Security Platforms
As mentioned above, you should always run a security scan before letting your employees log on after a prolonged absence. Hackers will take full advantage of vulnerabilities found with a lapse of routine security measures.
Install All Patches
Chances are your software has updated security patches that haven’t been installed on your office devices. Install these on every machine or device in your office before connecting to your files.
Check for Updated Anti-Malware
Did your anti-malware subscription expire while you were away? Check the status of your anti-virus and make sure it’s still current, and that any updates have been installed.
Check Your Documentation
You have probably been keeping up on your network security for your remote workers, but it’s always a good idea to run a security scan before connecting again. Check your security logs for unusual and suspicious alerts and notifications.
This is the perfect time to let a professional IT managed services provider assess your network, interpret event logs, and make sure all of your security patches have been installed, all anti-virus is up to date, and no one has taken advantage of your absence to hack into your network.
Reopening Your Business is the Perfect Time for Cybersecurity Awareness Training
Your employees are coming back with potentially lowered vigilance for security. If they’ve been using their own devices, they may need to remember their logins to unlock the computer or gain access to apps they haven’t used in a while. They may even need to reset these passwords.
If they haven’t accessed email, your teams will have oodles of overflowing emails in their boxes; some of these may involve phishing and other social engineering attacks as hackers hope that email-weary employees click on attachments.
Employees may have been taking security shortcuts while working from home, such as saving sensitive data to their desktops or thumb drives.
This is the perfect time to hold a cybersecurity awareness training class, even if it’s just a refresher course.
You’ve checked for patches, but now it’s time to check for expired software. Renew your subscriptions, get the latest versions, and never run outdated software.
Like any “abandoned” application, your firewall may no longer be running optimally. Check the status of your firewall.
- Is it still under warranty?
- Is the subscription status current?
- Have all firewall updates been installed?
- Are all unused ports still closed?
Monitor the Dark Web
Whether your offices were shut down completely and employees haven’t accessed the network in a while, or if they’ve been using personal devices or working from home while the office was closed, run a dark web scan to make sure no passwords or data can be found on the dark web.
Check Your Backups
This is the time to test your backups and make sure your strategies are still reliable. You should do this before anyone actively logs in to their machines and devices to make sure your data can be restored if malware is released when your employees log back in.
Many of your employees will not make a smooth transition back to the office. Consider offering a little grace period as they reconnect and re-integrate back into an “office” mind set.
Is That Meeting Really Necessary?
If your employees have been performing productively while working remotely it’s because they have developed a steady workflow, uninterrupted by meetings and other workplace distractions. Take this time to re-evaluate your meeting strategies, length, and frequency.
While continual lateness should, as a rule, not be tolerated, you may need to offer some leniency as your work force comes back to the office. They will need to figure out childcare and commuting. You can consider offering staggered start time intervals to allow for this, and offer employees the option to make up the lost morning time in the afternoon.
Post COVID19 Precautions
In the excitement at seeing their coworkers again, employee hugs and handshakes will have their supervisors cringing. Make sure all recommended COVID19 precautions are posted publicly.
Offer hand sanitizer and personal protective equipment to your returning workforce as well as to your customers and clients. Create a disinfecting schedule and post it for employees and customers to see. Make sure you include all shared spaces and frequently touched items like faucets, doorknobs, breakroom equipment, and phones on this schedule and have employees sign off when the tasks are completed.
Tickets and Passes
Make sure to reach out to your employees and remind them of the transportation arrangements they will need to review before that first trip to the office. Are parking passes updated? Toll devices replenished? Bus or subway passes renewed?
Is it Time to Rethink Your Strategies?
Now that you’ve had time away, you can look at your office in a new way. Are there technologies that will make your teams more productive? Can you implement a BYOD policy that will allow employees to continue working on their own devices?
Debrief Your Team
That first meeting after reopening your business is going to be a doozy. Your workers will be reconnecting with each other, getting familiar again with their office setups, and discussing projects and plans that have been in progress since the shutdown began.
This is the time to touch base with your employees regarding their work-from-home experience. How prepared were they? Did they have the tools they needed to be productive? What changes could be made to have a smoother transition if working remotely becomes a necessity again?
Evaluate Your Tools
Your team may have been using remote and cloud tools, like Teams and Zoom, to stay connected and productive. Why not make a permanent transition to cloud computing services? By moving your files to the cloud, you can eliminate the need for physical servers in your office and keep the path for remote work open.
Your employees may be more comfortable working on their own devices now. This choice could potentially save your business money, but make sure these devices are protected.
Develop a BYOD policy that covers protections, acceptable usage, and basic guidelines for using personal equipment at work.
Renegotiate Lease Options and Other Third-Party Vendor Contracts
This is the perfect opportunity for you to look at your lease options or third-party agreements. You may find that some vendors will renegotiate for lower prices, or that you don’t need all the office space you rent monthly after all. Can you sublease part of your offices? Get lower prices on supplies? This is the perfect chance for you to consider making changes that will save your business money.
Continue Offering Remote Services
Just because your office is open doesn’t mean your customers will immediately flock to your doors. Continue offering off-site and remote options for your customers and clients as they re-integrate “back into society” as well.
Consider a Shift in Your Marketing Strategies
This is a great time to think about ways you can reward customers for their loyalty, create special offers to attract new customers, and think about new ways to deliver your goods and services.
Update Your Customers and Clients
Don’t forget to notify your customers and clients via social media and email that you are opening back up. Tell them that you understand they may not be comfortable “in person” yet, and that you will continue to offer good and services remotely. Add this information on your website, too.
Make sure you tell your customers about the precautions you are taking to protect them and your employees.
Schedule a Managed Services IT Audit and Evaluation Before Reopening Your Business
Iconic IT understands that it’s time to shake the dust off, make a pot of coffee, and get to work reopening your business. We also understand that doing so means making sure your network is prepared to meet your employees again. Iconic IT is always here with a free consultation to make reopening your business smoother and more secure.
Ready to get started on your own? Download this Do It Yourself Reopening Your Business IT Checklist and make sure you and your staff are ready to get back to work, safely.