When Disaster Strikes
It doesn’t take much to disrupt your business if you’re not prepared. Weather could force your employees off the roads, a fire or water pipe break could close your doors, or a public health emergency could make it unsafe for people to gather in groups. There are so many opportunities for disaster and disruption, it doesn’t make sense not to have some sort of plan in place to keep your employees and your business productive, even if the doors to your office have to close for some period of time.
If you’ve already got a telecommuter program in place, particularly if it’s based on SSL technology, you’re in luck. It doesn’t take much to convert that to a business continuity solution to ensure your business stays up and running, regardless of outside factors. If you don’t have a telecommuter program in place, or if you’re considering implementing one, make sure you factor business continuity into your decision making process.
Why SSL Makes Sense
Telecommuting and remote access services help businesses cope with emergencies because the systems are already in place to allow your employees to work from home, a nearby library, a neighborhood café, or even their cell phone, if they’ve got the right technology. What’s key about making a business continuity solution work is the ability to implement it quickly and seamlessly so business processes and commitments are re-established as soon as possible.
That’s where SSL comes in. It provides your employees access to integral company resources from any web browser in any location. SSL offers secure clientless access so your employees can log on from home or somewhere nearby that has Internet access, even if they don’t traditionally work from home. With SSL, you can quickly setup new users so employees don’t have to be part of your telecommuting workforce in order to take advantage of your telecommuting systems when they need emergency access. SSL also provides enhanced security for your network, even for employees logging in from unsecured devices, like an apartment business center or a local library. The best part is you don’t have to limit access to employees; anyone who can help keep your business going in the event of an emergency, including partners, suppliers and even customers, can be given quick secure access when necessary.
How to Make it Work
The shift from teleworking program to business continuity solution is fairly easy but it won’t happen by itself. Here are a few tips to help make the transition smoothly so that it’s available when you need it:
- Planning: You’ll need to decide upfront who is going to need access to what systems in the case of an emergency. You’ll also need a good plan in place to determine if you’re going to give them access in advance or if you’re going to designate a member of your IT staff to add them when they’re needed.
- Training: Your employees, even those that don’t telecommute, need to know how to use the system in case they can’t come in to work. They’ll need training on how to access your network using a web browser and what level of access to expect based on the type of device they’re connecting from. They’ll also need a list of contacts so they know who to notify in case of problems and a clear list of expectations so everyone knows how to be productive and how to keep the business running, even if they don’t have a manager working a few yards away.
- Stay up-to-date: Make sure you stay on top of system changes, added applications or upgraded hardware so that everyone has the tools they need to connect when they its needed. It might be worth your while to take and keep an updated inventory of how many employees are going to be able to connect from home, what sort of Internet connections they currently have (you’re going to want to know if some employees are still on dial-up, for example, and get an in-depth understanding of how that’s going to affect their ability to contribute when required), and where those without home Internet connections are going to have to go to get online. If you’ve distributed company laptops to some folks without home computers, make sure they’ve got the latest malware and anti-virus tools. If you’ve recently added corporate applications, update your access list to accurately reflect qualified users. That’s not something you want to have to figure out at the last minute.
If your remote-access program doesn’t run like a well-oiled machine under normal circumstances, then it has no chance of weathering an emergency. If you’re not sure your IT department can manage the task of keeping your telecommuting program running smoothly, you’re going to be disappointed when an emergency happens and you need to rely on that program to keep your business afloat.
If there’s any chance your IT department isn’t up to the task, either because of knowledge or resource constrictions, consider outsourcing some or all of your telecommuting and business continuity program. Even small businesses can find this a cost-effective alternative that not only ensures a successful solution, but gives you the peace of mind of knowing that you’re going to be covered when you need it the most.