The coronavirus, formally known as COVID-19, has now affected 90,000 people in 65 countries on every continent except Antarctica. As of Monday, March 2, the flu-like virus had caused two deaths in the United States, with 88 reported cases nationwide, including the first in New York City, Rhode Island, and Florida. Some of those cases occurred in people who had traveled internationally, while others showed signs of being contracted domestically.
Even as the pace of new coronavirus cases slowed in China, total coronavirus deaths surged past 3,000 and other parts of the world braced for more. South Korea and Iran each reported thousands of new cases over the weekend, while the European Union moved to high alert as the CDC restricted all non-essential travel to Italy. And global stock markets continue to highlight the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus, with indexes rocketing volatilely up and down.
Around the world, officials in government, education, and industry are preparing for a prolonged epidemic. That could include significant shifts to the day-to-day economy, with school closures, remote work requirements, and sequestered populations all a possibility. These entities all do a great job prepping for hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, earthquakes, and even active shooters. But what can be done about coronavirus, a relatively new disease that can spread easily in person-to-person settings?
If your business needs to prep for coronavirus, consider these options:
1) Get your employees ready to work remotely.
This has already begun in the Seattle area, where the first two US coronavirus deaths were reported. But no matter where you live or what industry your work in, it’s time now to prepare for telecommuting work from your whole team. Having an emergency telecommuting plan in place before a disaster strikes can keep your business functioning while your employees stay busy in the safety of their own homes.
2) Make sure remote work connections are secure.
Beneath a basic outline for remote work is the technology that makes it possible. Remote access software like LogMeIn allows you to remotely control a computer (think your office desktop) from a different location and device (think your laptop at home). That way you can access all your apps, files, and information, just like you were physically sitting at the office. In addition, VPNs (virtual private networks) can provide secure access to sensitive data housed on private networks. Using a VPN, your public Internet connection is encrypted and your online activity is shielded. However, home computers using a VPN to connect to an office network can still present cybersecurity problems—if a poorly protected home computer happens to get ransomware, it can impact the entire office network.
3) Confirm that your IT provider can service you remotely.
In the case of a major coronavirus epidemic, computer technicians may not even be able to make it in to your office. That’s why proactive monitoring and maintenance tools implemented remotely are so important. At CMIT Solutions, our Marathon product provides comprehensive management, preventative problem resolution, security patch and software update implementation, and a 24/7 help desk designed to keep your business running.
4) Test your data backups to make sure they’re fully automated.
If your regular data backup requires you or another employee to physically touch a hard drive, you aren’t fully protected. CMIT’s Guardian product provides fully automated data backup that can be a lifesaver for your business in the face of natural or man-made disasters. Off-site backups are securely transmitted and regularly and redundantly stored in multiple locations to account for the possibility of widespread power failures. And in the event of an emergency, remote virtualization can even get your business up and running in an alternate location. But only if you know those backups work properly.
5) Develop a disaster recovery plan that covers the “before,” “during,” and “after” phases of an epidemic or disaster.
Although it may seem too early to prepare for something that has just hit North America, preparation is key in dealing with something as significant as coronavirus. All of your company’s employees should be signed up with an emergency texting service that can immediately transmit emergency announcements and updated information. Before it’s required, all employees should understand their work-from-home responsibilities (spelling these out beforehand is even better). And once things return to normal, everyone should understand their responsibilities for getting back to work in a safe and timely manner.
As fellow small business owners, all of us in CMIT Solutions’ North America-wide network understand the implications of a global event like the coronavirus epidemic. We have extensive experience assisting other small businesses through disasters like these, and we know how to leverage productivity and efficiency tools to keep everyone working, from the office or from home.
Contact us today to find out how remote access software, trusted data backup, and sound cybersecurity principles can keep your business safe in the face of coronavirus.