Through its Canadian Business Resilience Network, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce recently held a q&a webinar on best practices for working remotely through a crisis, with tips on preparing for a potential long-term shift of having employees working remotely.

As the pandemic began and is still persisting, the disruption to the workplace was at first immediate, requiring team members to work-from-home in the short term, and many felt the benefits of not having to go to the office:

  • saving time on the commute, which was better spent on other professional and personal tasks;
  • more productivity thanks to the flexibility of working at any time of the day, of that suited the position;
  • overall, better work-life balance.

CWB Financial‘s Cory Gould, Chief Information Security Officer, and Jeff Wright, Senior Vice-President of Client Solutions, lead the discussion, covering a variety of topics to consider of your business is working remotely, plans to create a remote working culture or hybrid office model, or if you suddenly found yourself joining the growing legion of remote workers.

A few questions to consider:

  • what resources do you need to support your team?
  • are they managing their mental health?
  • what cyber-threats or security issues need to be resolved when your workforce is remote, or you are now working from home?

Tips that CWB has been using for these issues include having more meaningful connections and check-ins with staff, creating virtual team building activities (online shows, and a competition for best home office, for example), and being mindful of separating “work” and “home”, even though you might be working from your kitchen counter. Employees were able to order items online so they could equip themselves to work at home.

That also includes the separation of work technology and home technology. From a security perspective, having employees use company-issued devices can not only draw a virtual line between work and home, but provides better security. Think of how much online shopping you may be doing — better to do that on a personal device so data tied to the office is elsewhere.

When it comes to tech and security, Mr. Gould pointed out that the first line of defense is your employees. Train them on common threats — phishing, fake emails, and so forth — and provide education on best practices. We may err on the side of trust and open an attachment or give away login details that should not be shared. Best practice? Access management through the idea of least privilege. Credentials need to be managed; if a team member needs access to something, start from the bottom and increase access, not the opposite.

When it comes to re-opening Mr. Wright says there may be some employees who want to return to the office, some may want to remain working from home, some may want a hybrid; explore options, be flexible and empathetic, and focus on the work, not where the work is being done.

If you have succeeded through these last few months, take that success and use it to imagine the future, create a culture of security and comfort, and use this time to be innovative.

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