Moving Forward From COVID-19 Requires A Strategy

Have you given any thought to the way your organization will operate in a post-pandemic world?

Once the pandemic has subsided, you’ll likely be working in one of three potential scenarios:

  • Your entire staff returns to work in the office, requiring you to implement practices to maintain social distance and keep high-traffic and high-contact areas disinfected
  • Some of your staff returns to work in the office, and some continue working remotely, requiring you to manage a hybrid IT environment
  • All of your staff continue to work remotely, requiring you to assess and improve the remote IT environment you’ve been using so far

post-covid-19-strategy
The bottom line is, whichever way you’ve managed remote work so far, if it’s to be a part of your long-term environment for your organization, you need to make sure it’s optimized and secure.

The rush to pivot to remote work in the early stages of the pandemic prioritized access to data with basic security measures; even some HIPAA requirements were eased. Now that the rush is over, it’s time to implement more advanced and robust cybersecurity defenses, as well as ensure you are prepared for HIPAA compliance as rules begin to again be fully enforced.

3 Scenarios For Your Return To The Office

No matter how you plan to proceed, GO Concepts can guide you in both optimizing your IT environment to promote productivity, as well as in implementing the right cybersecurity standards and practices to keep your organization secure and compliant.

All Staff On-Premise

Security

Even though an all on-premise working model may be simpler than incorporating remote workers, you will still need a Two-Factor Authentication (2FA), also known as Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) solution implemented for access to your email, data, VPN, systems, applications, and any remote access to machines.

Productivity

As you’ll be operating in a conventional working environment, there won’t be much of a change here, as opposed to a return to form. If you do need to provide access to data from outside the office for staff members in the field, our secure Virtual Datacenter services are highly recommended.

Remote Access

When needed, remote access should be secured by VPN and 2FA.

Hybrid: Remote & On-Premise

Security

In a hybrid environment, you need to take extra care to make sure both your on-premise staff and remote workers aren’t putting work-related and individual-related data, such as ePHI and PII at risk. That means securing all VPN connections, remote access to machines, and access to email with a 2FA solution.

Productivity

Maintaining productivity and communication between an in-office and remote staff is not necessarily easy – but Microsoft and others do provide several tools to help you do so. File storage and sharing can be handled through our Virtual Datacenter service, hosted in our own on-premise Private Cloud, as well as via Microsoft SharePoint and OneDrive, and Microsoft Teams and Zoom offer a range of communication and collaboration capabilities, with both being HIPAA friendly.

Remote Access

Using hot desks (multiple workers using a single physical work station or surface) can help to promote social distancing in the office. Still, you’ll want to implement standards for regularly disinfecting all common spaces. In terms of remote access security, it’s important for you to note, computer viruses can be transmitted from the remote user’s devices over a VPN. You will need to make sure any endpoints are configured to limit a VPN’s ability to transmit dangerous malware.

All Remote Staff

Security

In addition to the security standards laid out for the Hybrid model (2FA applied to all access points), you will also need to consider whether you’ll allow BYOD. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is a company policy that dictates how your employees use their personal devices for work purposes, prioritizing security, and data retention above most other concerns.
If you allow BYOD for remote workers, you need to consider:

  • How to prevent that machine or device from putting your organization’s data at risk
  • How to protect the user’s private data on their personal device

Productivity

As with the Hybrid model, maintaining productivity and communication between an in-office and remote staff can be achieved with our Virtual Datacenter services, as well as with Microsoft products like SharePoint, OneDrive, and Teams (Zoom if that is your preference).

Remote Access

In an all-remote model, you’ll want to consider moving all your data and line of business (LOB) applications into the cloud, which will eliminate your need for less secure and more complicated remote access to in-office data, applications, and machines. However, if you have LOB applications on your server(s) currently, they will need to be migrated to the cloud, like our Private Cloud utilizing our Virtual Datacenter services, and used via Windows Remote Desktops.

Evaluating Your IT Support

If you plan to continue with remote work in one way or another, you may need to change your model of IT support, as you and others in leadership at your organization have likely discovered since the start of the pandemic, your ability to work remotely depends directly on reliability, security, and robustness of the information technology solutions you have in place, as well as the experience and capabilities of the IT staff (in-house or partner) both supporting and recommending them.

In the remote setting, information technology is necessary so you and your staff can:

  • Access files, applications, and systems from a remote setting both reliably and securely
  • Collaborate with co-workers, providers, agencies, contractors, and most importantly, individuals via mobile and VoIP, as well as video conferencing solutions
  • Stay secure against the increased rate of phishing, spear-phishing, and targeted attacks related to the pandemic
  • Maintain communications with a cloud-based phone system that keeps staff connected

GO Concepts can assist! Throughout the pandemic, we’ve gained extensive experience in helping our partners launch, optimize, and secure remote work capabilities. Now that the rush to “go remote” is basically over and people are more familiar with this new working environment, it’s time to perfect your processes… you don’t have to do so alone!

Click here to get in touch with a representative from the GO Concepts team or call us at (513) 934-8235 today to get started.