Coronavirus: Our Plan
5th March 2020
The government is predicting that it is highly likely we will see a significant expansion in the number of cases of Coronavirus across the country. Details of the plan of action are yet to be released but it is likely to include some elements of “social distancing“ and “self-quarantining” to limit the spread of the virus until later in the year.
What are Netmatters doing to ensure continuity of support?
We recognise that as your technology partner we need to ensure we have a robust plan in place so we can continue to deliver our services to you in the event of a total shutdown of our premises.
We have implemented a comprehensive plan of preventative measures to inhibit the spread of this virus but are accepting that this will probably only delay rather than stop its advance if any of the Netmatters staff gets infected.
To this end we have implemented a plan whereas we will segment the business. Staff at our Gorleston office will not have any contact with staff at our Wymondham HQ so that we can have at least one office available to deliver IT first line services.
Given that we are also spread across two sites in Wymondham, either side of the road, we are also considering a plan to segment these sites along the natural building split in an effort to limit any potential infection from one building to another.
As you would expect, our disaster recovery planning is advanced so we are not reliant on our physical office space to operate as a business.
We have accelerated the rollout of laptops over conventional desktops and have purchased enough devices to allow for all members of staff to be able to work from home in the event of our business premises not being accessible.
Our telephone system is cloud based so we will be able to make and receive calls via the normal numbers wherever our staff are located. Our business runs on a cloud based business Management System which is available anywhere so coupling this with portable workstations gives us a very good level of resilience.
We have purchased face masks and gloves to be used by our IT technicians should an onsite visit be absolutely necessary and the Government are advising such measures to be used.
By taking these segmentation steps and ensuring staff are able to work remotely we will be able to continue to deliver a good level of service throughout this situation.
There are areas we can assist with in creating your own Business Continuity Plan and steps you may want to take to improve your resilience. We are available to help at any time should you need and we will keep you informed of any pertinent information we have.
What should businesses in general do about Coronavirus?
The immediate effects are likely to be a reduced workforce, limited access to premises and the requirement for staff to self-Quarantine.
You will have a considerable amount of staff off sick or having to self quarantine.
You will see a reluctance from customers and suppliers to have face to face meetings.
You will see a reluctance from customers for you to visit their sites.
You will see travel restrictions to infected areas and abroad.
You will be advised to make people work from home where possible.
You will have to self quarantine all staff at the same time.
You will see all staff in a department off sick or self quarantining at the same time.
You will have to self Quarantine all staff and deep clean premises.
You will be denied access to your business premises by the local government.
Here some steps we would advise to consider:
Create a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) - Create a plan to address the likely Scenarios and increase the resilience of your business in the event of an outbreak. This plan should have triggers set of when you will implement certain parts, e.g when you may start asking certain staff to work from home. It's also advised to test as much of the plan as is practicably possible.
Communicate Preventative Measures - Make sure all staff are aware of how to prevent the spread of this virus. Information is given here on how to do this.
Develop a Communication Channel for Customers - Your customers may rely on you for goods or services. Ensure they are aware of your plans. If you are expecting to have to change communication methods ensure these are communicated before the event.
Develop a Communication Channel for all Staff - Ensure you are keeping all members of your team up to date and prepared. Most staff will have lots of questions and will want to ask questions. An ideal way to do this would be to create an internal news story and publish answers to questions here. Staff will have a lot of concerns and education will help to allay their fears.
Become Flexible - Work on ensuring you have flexibility for staff to work from home. This may not be practical but if you can allow some staff to work from home you can limit the chances of them becoming infected at the same time. It is likely you will be advised to allow people to work from home so be prepared.
Segregate Staff - Limit the contact of remote staff to HQ or segment your business where possible on a natural breakpoint. You may have several offices so by limiting contact between these separated groups will also help to prevent the likelihood of everyone being infected at the same time. This may not be practical for all businesses but any segregation you can achieve may help with business resilience.
Test Communication Channels - Make communication channel location independent. Emails are usually fine but you need to ensure you can reroute calls if the need arises.
Implement Workarounds - Work out what processes in your business are office dependent and see if a workaround can be found. It may be that you run a local version of some software on your server that you might be able to access remotely with some configuration.
Test Scenarios - Run scenarios for likely “what ifs”. This helps to find the hidden issues that can be addressed now rather than during an issue.
Consider Security - With workers operating from home locations security is definitely an issue. Businesses will be more susceptible to email accounts being hacked and systems compromised. Consider implementing two factor authentication where possible. This can easily be implemented on Office 365 and various systems.
Also, consider implementing measures regarding the transfer of funds by the accounts department, should everyone need to work from home. You may consider requests being made via email require a confirmation call to ensure the request is genuine (there are a lot of emails scams regarding payments).
Consideration needs to be made regarding the printing of company documents by home based workers - access to these documents and the potential disposal of such items should be considered (not everyone will have access to a shredder at home).
Consideration should be made to the devices/machines that staff may use from home to access the companies business Networks.. The absolute minimum is to have up to date Anti Virus and Anti Malware software installed. Using a company provided laptop from home is fine, but using the family computer which has not been managed by your IT policies may fall short of what's needed and introduce security shortcomings.
Staff need to be vigilant to such risks and the business needs to provide a clear process to mitigate such risks.
Consider Workload Management - It is likely you will have a reduced workforce at some point so work out how you will ensure the most important things will be addressed first.
If we can assist with anything with regards to the potential outbreak of this virus, we encourage you to get in touch with us to see how we can help you create a plan that works for you.
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