“So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”
– Franklin D. Roosevelt
We are experiencing an unprecedented time: exponential growth of Covid-19 cases, social distancing, and growing unemployment. Just a couple weeks ago, we were thinking about the coming of spring and the opportunities that brings to our lives. Now we are being told to put our lives on hold and stay at home. How can we handle this?
I wish I could provide words of wisdom and settle your anxiety but I am afraid we are all lacking that wisdom. I have been working with our Firm’s Emergency Response Team (ERT) for the last several weeks. I have spent, what feels like, every waking moment thinking about how to prepare for this.
I would like to share some ideas that we have found helpful.
If you haven’t already, develop a decision tree. Set your trigger points. Know when you will implement your plans. Set it in phases.
At your first trigger point, you may send all but essential people home. You have to decide what that means… are essential people all the ones that can’t work from home? If your next trigger point is to close your offices, are you prepared for people to get the things they need from the office? Do you have the essential equipment they will need? While our plans evolved, we have stuck to our trigger points and made decisive moves.
We use a cloud-based Unified Communication System. Our phones, video conferencing, instant messaging, and faxes are handled through this system. We each have the software on our laptops and our cell phones. This allows us to answer our clients and each other from anywhere. This has greatly helped us keep a sense of normalcy in our lives. Technology like Zoom is available for free (with some limitations) and many companies have turned to these at this time. It is nice to be able to see each other when meeting and sharing screens allows us to collaborate on our work. You may want to check out products like WebEx or Zoom (there are others) to keep your operations communicating.
Working from home also means needing to connect to the files you have on your servers. This generally means a Virtual Private Network (VPN). Most companies’ VPN have limitations to connections and bandwidth. Our Next-Gen Cloud-based firewall allows us to be connected 24/7 and behind a high-end firewall even at home. It may not be a great time to consider a change to your firewall or VPN but you may be faced with setting a schedule to allow people time to connect since it might not be possible to have everyone connected from home all the time.
You might be faced with the challenge of not having all of your staff on laptops to work from home. You will need to make decisions about whether you can have them take their desktop computers home. Remember, most desktop computers do not have wireless capabilities so they may need an Ethernet cable to connect directly to their modem at home. Or you may need to find wireless adapters they can connect to if it isn’t possible to use a cable. Some people do not have strong internet at home, how will they be able to function?
Stay focused on the issues and don’t let the constant barrage of bad news dull your creative thinking… we need that now as we face new decisions. Do not let down your security; the bad guys prey on events like this.
I will also say: remember that a smile, a kind word, or an act of kindness of any size may be just the medicine someone needs. A quick video chat with a fellow worker may help everyone get through the day.
I won’t lie: I am afraid of what is coming for all of us. No human alive has faced anything like this. But I believe we will persevere and be stronger for it. We have a great team here at YHB and have made strong plans. I am confident in YHB’s ability to serve our clients. I hope this article will be of some help to you. If anyone wants to talk through their planning, please send me an email, I am willing to help where I can.
Good luck to you. My hopes, prayers, and wishes are with everyone. Let’s not let Fear stop us! We will get through this!
LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR RISK ADVISORY SERVICES
Throughout his time at YHB Curtis has provided IT audit and consulting to clients, even while holding the position of the firm’s IT director for several years. Now, as head of the YHB Risk Advisory Services Team, Curtis focuses on assisting organizations in a variety of industries with internal audits and IT-related audit and consulting services. Also, he frequently speaks and gives presentations on SOX compliance, internal controls, and data security.