Changing business environments as a result of COVID-19 means a change in how we operate on a day-to-day basis. There’s a lot of uncertainty when preparing for the future, but we’ve pinpointed many things business leaders can do right now to prepare to reopen, outlined in our blog post New Normal for Business in the Wake of COVID-19 – How Competitors are Staying Ahead. One of the key elements of the new normal will be the implementation of tech tools that enhance your company’s operations and establish you as a leader in your industry. Below we’ve gone into a bit more detail on some of the tools that will be the most useful and how to begin implementing them.

As we mentioned in our previous blog post that’s linked above, we have no doubt we’re going to see many companies moving a portion of their work force to permanent remote work now that they’ve recognized how it reduces overhead costs. But there are downsides as well, one of those being data security issues. Hopefully, you have at least a few tools in place already to combat data breaches, like a VPN and password protected laptops and phones, but this needs to be taken a step further by implementing tools like Mimecast and multi-factor authentication.

Mimecast ATP

Mimecast is an email spam filter that provides heightened protection from general email threats. It provides real time scanning of attachments, malicious links, and data loss/leak prevention. Employees working remotely are targets for increasingly sophisticated attacks designed to steal money, credentials, customer data, and other valuable intellectual property. In addition to implementing Mimecast, reinforce your employees’ knowledge around data breaches by providing content that increases their awareness of suspicious emails, links and attachments.

Multi-factor Authentication Solution – DUO SSO (Single Sign On)

Add another layer of email protection by implementing a multi-factor authentication solution like DUO SSO. This provides a seamless authentication experience and minimizes the number of passwords to remember while keeping data secure. When using single sign on, you verify your identity using an additional authentication method like your mobile phone to prevent anyone but you from logging in, even if your password has been compromised.

Another downside to remote work, if it’s not thought out properly, can be confusion around expectations amongst employees. Guidelines for working from home should be established to avoid this. Lay out exactly what you expect in terms of productivity and performance, as well as any technology requirements so your employees are set up for success from the start. This could include requirements for internet speed, firmware upgrades on home equipment, office supply must haves, etc. It’s also important to define the appropriate channels for communication when collaborating (phone call, email, virtual meeting). Having collaboration tools in place can not only help your team communicate effectively, but helps your company look professional and tech savvy.

Cloud Based Virtual Collaboration Tool – MS Teams

Collaborate in real time using MS Teams for video meetings. This allows you to have face-to-face communication with your team and your clients to hash out important topics. MS Teams comes with a handy chat feature that can be used in lieu of email to reduce traffic and prompt quick responses. You can also share documents in real time via chat or using the file sharing function. This function allows other team members to securely collaborate on your document in real time, since they are stored in the cloud and not on a server. You also have the ability to add on any websites or apps that you think would be useful – we love Planner, which enables us to build out meeting agendas and assign tasks that appear in email as reminders.

Document Collaboration – SharePoint

SharePoint is a great, cloud-based tool used for document sharing, collaboration, and management. Emailing around different versions of a single document after you and your team have made edits gets confusing and frustrating. Instead of having to save multiple versions of one document, SharePoint enables users to edit one document simultaneously in real time, and even has a function that allows other users to see where the edits were made and who they were made by.

Electronic Signatures – DocuSign

Signatures are required in many aspects of business, and paperwork doesn’t end just because teams are working remotely. Identifying a secure way of collecting these signatures and passing confidential documents back and forth is crucial to business operations. DocuSign is an easy to use and relatively cheap option at about $15 a month. Even if you end up moving your staff back into the office eventually, we guarantee DocuSign will be a tool you use for years and years to come.

Adjusting to the new normal is going to take some time. Having the willingness to pivot your strategies to create processes that keep you ahead of your competitors is the first step in a long line of adjustments, but you can begin this pivot today. Having a great tech strategy will boost your company’s reputation as well as your staff’s productivity. The sooner you begin implementing these tools, the sooner you’ll become adjusted to the new normal.