Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 51 seconds

Maybe after the next disease, more firms will incorporate pandemics in their business continuing plans. In the meantime, those who provide disaster planning have tips for dealing with a world in which working remotely is suddenly widespread.

 That advice includes the tools need for communication among employees and clients and access to data in firm computers. At the top of the list is the new cloud.

“This is the situation to make cloud the new normal and make working anywhere the new normal,” says Randy Johnston, co-founder and owner of the Network Management group of Hutchinson, Kan. 

Johnston began warning clients about the need to plan for a pandemic and began incorporating it in the models for business continuity plans recommended to clients in 2005. NMGI activated its own pandemic plan on March 11 so ensure that it can continue operating with “35 of us supporting thousands of people”

Despite the spread of Internet-based applications, cloud versions are not available for all programs.

Johnston recommends remote access be made via the use of Citrix, which lets a business utilize its on-premise and cloud applications remotely, along with Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) for voice communications. He prefers wired handsets and takes advantage of split call forwarding which can send the call to a desk phone in the office, home desk phone, cell phone or soft phone on the computer. That way, whichever phone rings, Johnston can answer the call.

While many have turned to Zoom for video conferencing, Johnston recommends Microsoft Teams, which he says is more secure than Zoom, which he says can open up home and business locations to attack. Since many businesses have Microsoft Office, they can get Teams for up to 365 users for free, he says.

Johnston also says firms must utilize multi-factor authentication to use applications remotely. “There is no way you should permit remote work without multi-factor authentication,” he says. Johnston reports a phenomenon that has been widely reported—a surge in security threats. He said that includes attempts to intercept unemployment payments. Most authentication programs have already been somewhat compromised he recommends using Duo with Citrix. 

Johnston said workflows must be built into the system “This is the piece that is still broken for many firms,” he said. “You have to have workflows fired up” when disruptions occurs because “you can’t walk down the hall or have a conversation at the watercolor.”

Johnston believes the current work patterns will change how business operates after current threat is over. “This is the situation is going to make working anywhere the new normal,” he said. “I am forecasting after this crisis, real estate will be harder to occupy.”

Bob Scott
Bob Scott has provided information to the tax and accounting community since 1991, first as technology editor of Accounting Today, and from 1997 through 2009 as editor of its sister publication, Accounting Technology. He is known throughout the industry for his depth of knowledge and for his high journalistic standards.  Scott has made frequent appearances as a speaker, moderator and panelist and events serving tax and accounting professionals. He  has a strong background in computer journalism as an editor with two former trade publications, Computer+Software News and MIS Week and spent several years with weekly and daily newspapers in Morris County New Jersey prior to that.  A graduate of Indiana University with a degree in journalism, Bob is a native of Madison, Ind
Last modified on Thursday, 02 April 2020
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