COVID-19, or coronavirus, has been a major global health concern over the past couple of months. At this point, it is clear that this disease could have serious impacts on the workplace. We wanted to provide a brief rundown of good workplace and network health practices, as well as a few pointers on how you can handle health-based employee absences.
How to Minimize General Exposure in the Office
Based on what is currently known about the coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have some recommendations as to how to keep the potential impact of coronavirus to a minimum:
- Encourage employees who are ill to stay home. This will help to minimize the spread of infection within your business. Make sure that your employees are aware of this policy by reiterating it verbally, and by posting notices around the office encouraging them to stay home if under the weather.
Emphasize hygiene and etiquette. Properly stifling coughs and sneezes and keeping hands clean are surprisingly effective ways to keep your workplace healthier. Rather than using their hands to catch a cough or sneeze, your employees should use a tissue or--if unable to do so--use the upper part of their sleeve.
The CDC recommends that tissues and alcohol-based hand sanitizer should be made readily available. Make sure your employees are washing their hands with soap and water for the recommended 20 seconds.
- Engage in keeping the workplace clean. There is a chance that coronavirus (and other illnesses) could be spread via infected surfaces. Make sure that all surfaces that are touched frequently, like desks, workstations, and doorknobs, are kept sanitized. Provide your employees with disposable wipes so they can proactively disinfect these surfaces before use.
If you find that one of your employees is confirmed to have been infected with coronavirus, make sure that you inform their coworkers of their possible exposure while still maintaining the confidentiality that the Americans with Disabilities Act requires. These employees and those who are living with a sick family member should assess their risk of exposure using the CDC’s guidelines.
Coronavirus as a Cyberthreat
Unfortunately, coronavirus will also require you to also keep an eye on your network security, particularly if you operate within the healthcare industry. Hackers and cybercriminals have taken advantage of the widespread concern that the disease has caused. For example:
- Scammers have phished healthcare providers with updates that appear to have come from the World Health Organization or hospitals local to their area, but actually introduce keyloggers into their systems.
- Those involved in the medical supply chain have been targeted with emails referencing the coronavirus that install malware to steal information.
- Ransomware has been introduced into consumer systems by promising recipients of an email information about COVID-19’s spread.
While the current climate may not make it easy, these emails and other threat vectors can be overcome through the same best practices that foil other cyberthreats. In addition to comprehensive digital protections, training your employees to spot these threats will be crucial.
Of course, you should also maintain a comprehensive backup in case you need to recover from a successful attack.
How to Maintain Productivity with Your Team at Home
With today’s technology, sending an employee home sick doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be sacrificing that employee’s productivity. We now have many ways that your team can work effectively from home, still contributing to your organizational agenda without exposing their coworkers to their illness.
Equipping Your Employees
Remote access solutions, paired with virtual private networking technology, can allow your employees to securely continue their work from home, safely accessing the applications and data their tasks require through an encrypted connection. As collaboration will certainly be necessary, you will want to be sure that your employees are also equipped with the communication tools that facilitate this collaboration as well.
You will also want to thoroughly secure your network infrastructure to help prevent threats like phishing attacks and other methods from being successful… as well as preparing for a potential breach or emergency with data backups and disaster recovery policies and procedures (including contact information for your employees) to help mitigate a worst-case scenario.
Finally, make sure your employees are on the lookout for any suspicious activity that could be a cybercriminal’s attempt at using the coronavirus as a means to an end. Not only should your employees know how to spot these attempts; they should also know the proper procedures for reporting and handling them.
Is the coronavirus scary? At this point, it is safe to say that it is, but does it have to interrupt your business operations entirely? Not if you are properly prepared.
For more assistance in preparing your business for any kind of disaster, reach out to the professionals at Layer 3 IT by calling (888) 601-3151.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19, better known as coronavirus, is a respiratory illness that first appeared in Wuhan, China, and was reported in the United States on January 21st, 2020.
As of March 3rd, 12 states have reported 60 total cases of coronavirus and six confirmed deaths, with no vaccines or specific antiviral treatments for the illness. Symptoms of the virus include fever, shortness of breath, and a cough, while those with complications from the virus can experience pneumonia in both lungs, failure of multiple organs, and death.