Whether it’s meant shrinking teams, updating processes, or temporarily halting the production of goods and services—among all of the businesses hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, SMBs have been hit hardest. 

One of the biggest changes that small and medium-sized businesses have had to face is the abrupt switch to remote working. This has been an especially difficult process for SMBs that didn’t have a proper business continuity plan for IT in place before the pandemic hit.

IT is the heart of many modern businesses, and any inefficient cybersecurity or technology setup can have a huge impact on business success. As SMBs have had to adapt to remote work culture and deal with IT inefficiencies, here are some of the top things they’ve learned during the pandemic:

You’re Only as Good as Your Business Continuity Plan

As the old saying goes, “If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.” This sentiment has never been truer than for businesses in the midst of a pandemic that has seen a massive shift to remote working. 

A business continuity plan for modern companies is critical to protect your digital assets and maintain productivity through the use of your technology. Without a solid continuity plan that has been simulated and revised over time, businesses are left scrambling to fill in the sudden gaps caused by an IT disaster such as the pandemic we’re experiencing.

If your business continuity plan didn’t quite succeed in helping to prepare for COVID-19, you’ve probably already felt significant impacts as a result. Whether it’s dealing with increased downtime, unnecessary costs, or security incidents, unprepared SMBs have found that neglecting their business continuity plans has not been worth the headache.

SMBs have started turning more and more to managed IT services as a result, seeking out expert infrastructure management and consulting to develop a stronger contingency plan. Your Managed Service Provider should work with you to constantly revise your plan to ensure it is able to protect your business and its rates of productivity, no matter what happens.

Your Team Needs Reliable Telecommunication Services

As many SMBs have discovered, a team that runs into challenges in communication will fail in their productivity rates. Lacking communication between coworkers and clients is a sure recipe for disaster in a remote work environment. 

Many SMBs have turned to VoIP solutions to remedy lacking communication, not only to boost productivity rates but also to cut down on costs. VoIP operates over an Internet connection rather than onsite wiring, making it an excellent alternative for remote working. Without all the hardwiring and equipment needed for a separate traditional landline service, businesses also find themselves saving hundreds of dollars a year on their phone bills. 

VoIP provides access to conference calling, chat, and voicemail features that even many smartphones don’t have, greatly improving the productivity of teams. These features can keep calls and information secure, further protecting your employees and customers. 

You Should Have Clear BYOD/Work-from-Home Policies 

Employees at SMBs are likely to use their personal or company devices while working remotely, which can be both effective and dangerous. While many employees have access to technology that makes remote working simpler, allowing employees to use their own devices can put your data at risk.

For SMBs now working remotely, there’s a significant need to have clear BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and work-from-home policies to protect data and to keep employees accountable throughout the work day. 

Policies should include how and where devices can be used, the types of Internet connections that are allowed, security protocols that must be in place, and any other issues that are applicable to the needs of your business. SMBs have found that clearly outlined BYOD and work-from-home policies are a key to business success and security by educating employees on the proper uses of personal and company technology for work.

Remote Network Monitoring Is Key 

To prevent security incidents and reduce costly downtime, SMBs have found that remote network monitoring is a necessity. 

Some SMBs have learned the hard way that an abrupt switch to remote working can cause severe damage without the correct security controls in place. The fact is, more and more hackers are now seeking out SMBs who haven’t properly implemented cybersecurity measures on their new remote networks to exploit their system weaknesses and steal their data. Businesses lose thousands of dollars as a result of data theft and loss, which can even put companies out of business altogether.

Having 24/7 network monitoring in place means your IT provider can detect and patch system vulnerabilities immediately to ensure that hackers can’t exploit them. As a result, the costly causes of downtime are also eliminated, adding both enhanced security and productivity to your operations.

A VPN or Cloud Solutions Are Worthwhile Investments

Not being able to securely access your data is a major issue for SMBs that have moved over to working remotely. Using open or public Internet connections to transfer data greatly increases the likelihood of a breach.

SMBs have found that a virtual private network or VPN is a viable solution to safely connect to their in-house servers. Employees can still access data with security controls in place—such as multifactor authentication and encryption—to protect it from unauthorized users.

Cloud solutions are another excellent solution for businesses wishing to manage certain workloads within the cloud for secure access to remote files. With the proper hosting solution, your cloud operations are kept safe and continually backed up to prevent data loss.

Partnering with a Managed Service Provider

As cybersecurity and other IT provisions for enhancing productivity become more of a priority for SMBs, company owners are turning to reliable managed IT services for support. Managed Service Providers who have experience in remote networks can help your business thrive, even during a global pandemic, by strategizing unique solutions for remote data storage, file access, and communication.

At ISG Technology, our team is proficient in developing optimized work-from-home policies and solutions, including hosted VoIP, 24/7 system monitoring, and VPN. If you’d like to learn more about how our managed IT services can help your business, contact us today.

If you have questions about how to take advantage of our COVID-19 promotions, please don’t hesitate to contact the ISG COVID-19 Task Force.