It’s safe to say that the current pandemic has had a significant impact on the business world—as markets are disrupted and stay-at-home orders enforced, business owners have been forced to develop new and innovative ways to stay afloat. What’s more, coronavirus’s impact likely won’t be exclusive to 2020 alone; its effects on how businesses operate is molding the future of the workplace.

The reality is that while a very select few businesses may have been able to carry on as-is during the pandemic, the majority have had to furlough employees, suspend certain services, or—most commonly—implement work-from-home policies. What this means is that, more than ever before, businesses of all shapes and sizes are relying on their IT providers to establish secure and efficient ways to move to a remote working environment.

Unfortunately, your IT provider may have failed you in the way of business continuity. If you feel your technology was lacking in preparation to move to remote work during the pandemic, it’s time to reevaluate your current IT provisions and upgrade to a more reliable Managed IT Services Provider. These 5 signs can help you determine whether your provider properly prepared you for COVID-19 and what you can do if they didn’t:

1. Your team is having a hard time efficiently communicating.

When your employees are working from a remote location, communication is of the utmost importance. Eliminating the in-office advantages of being able to quickly walk to someone’s office to ask a question or have a face-to-face conversation presents obstacles to your remote workforce.

Fortunately, there are simple remote communication solutions for immediate team chatting and videoing. Hosted VoIP solutions and platforms such as Microsoft Teams have been utilized in order to work productively and streamline communication. Further, these solutions can help you save money on traditional phone systems and other software by consolidating features.

If you weren’t offered specific tools for telecommunication and team collaboration, it’s time to look for a new IT partner who can help you better handle the current circumstances and prepare for the future of remote working.

2. You aren’t able to access your files securely.

If your team is struggling to access critical files and programs from their remote workplace, this is a clear disruption to productivity. Even if they are able to access files, if they are doing so insecurely, you could face costly data breaches that can put your business even further behind.

Sending sensitive data through email or storing it on a personal device can be risky. Threat actors can easily infiltrate your employees’ devices and steal this data. Instead, your IT provider should have offered solutions for safely storing and accessing this data, such as implementing cloud computing or installing a VPN.

Cloud solutions allow you to safely store certain workloads within the cloud, hosted by a reliable third-party, meaning employees are able to access this data from any remote location. A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, creates a private connection between employee devices and your in-house servers, keeping data safe from unauthorized access.

If your provider did not offer these solutions to your business as you moved to remote working, you could be risking valuable data, facing costly consequences as a result. Reconsider your IT partnership to ensure you’re getting the most out of safe data storage solutions.

3. Your provider did not offer any hardware or software advisement.

Your IT provider should be an expert when it comes to consulting you on hardware and software needs, and this should have been the case as you restructured your technological environment for remote working.

The transition from office to home working isn’t an easy one, and often requires software consolidations, subscription reevaluations, and hardware downsizes or upgrades. A reliable Managed Service Provider would have provided you with recommendations on software and other applications that could best meet the needs of your newly remote workforce, whether that be Office 365, custom software, or another solution.

4. Your provider did not upgrade your cybersecurity.

Cybersecurity needs now more than ever to be a top priority for businesses. Hackers realize that businesses who are forced to abruptly switch to remote working are vulnerable, and they want to take advantage. With employees working from less secure locations and storing data insecurely, threat actors are far more likely to get what they’re after when they attack your remote systems.

Your IT provider should have employed solutions to defend against oncoming attacks such as upgraded anti-malware (malicious software), firewalls, and spam filters. Beyond that, they should also be offering Security Awareness Training to teach your staff safe internet use and how best to handle data.

If your IT provider hasn’t upgraded your cybersecurity or offered solutions like 24/7 remote monitoring, you’re likely vulnerable to cyber attacks. You can remedy this by looking for a provider who specializes in cybersecurity solutions for remote workforces.

5. Your business continuity plan has not been updated.

Every business needs to have contingencies in case of emergencies. Importantly, you should not only have a business continuity plan established, but your provider should also assist you in amending it frequently based on regular testing and assessments. Your IT provider should be prepared to protect your technological assets in the event of any IT emergency or disruption.

If you experienced data loss or other technological costs associated with moving to remote working, your IT provider didn’t have a strong enough business continuity plan in place for you. Even if you haven’t experienced any significant losses yet, your provider should be continually updating your plan based on new remote processes and departmental changes within your company.

It’s an important part of any IT company’s job to prepare their client for anything that may come their way‚ positive or negative. Whether it’s planning for growth or planning for a global pandemic, your provider should have already had solutions in place to keep productivity maximized during your transition to remote work.

If you’re experiencing any of these IT disruptions or obstacles and are looking for more comprehensive managed IT services, contact our experts at TMS today to see how we can help you better prepare for the future.

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