Five building blocks of a robust virtual office

KV Kurmanath Hyderabad | Updated on June 05, 2020 Published on June 05, 2020

Cultural change needs basic cyber hygiene

The first in the series of lockdowns in March this year didn’t offer much time to organisations and companies to work out a planned work-from-home shift of their operations.

Though the lockdown norms have been relaxed now, businesses and organisations feel that a significant portion of their operations will continue to be done over virtual networks, using collaboration tools.

Neelesh Kripalani, Senior Vice-President and Head of Centre of Excellence (CoE) of IT services and consulting firm Clover Infotech, says that working remotely is a kind of cultural change and employees need guidance to adjust to the new normal.

He came up with a five-point basic framework factoring in the basic essentials to set up a good, robust and safe virtual office network.

The framework should conform to the government regulations and enterprise-wide rules designed to ensure security and privacy of client data.

“Organisations have been compelled to shift their employees to work remotely. Employees have begun to access enterprise applications, systems and data from multiple devices and internet connections,” he said.

Besides giving scope for seepage, the new model, loosely built on make-shift plans, could expose firms to cyber attacks.

Basic essentials

Neelesh lists a set of essential buildings to build a robust virtual infrastructure that ensures business continuity, while protecting the organisations from cyber attacks.

Cloud adoption: He points out that organisations should have a good cloud computing policy to allow employees to access and send data uninterruptedly.

“This is especially useful for companies that have presence across geographies and need to maintain uniformity and consistency across different offices,” he says.

“In the present situation, when almost everyone is working remotely, there is increased pressure on the digital infrastructure. Cloud allows organisations to scale up the infrastructure capabilities to accommodate the increased workload,” he points out.

Remote working tools: He wants businesses to identify the right collaboration and communication tools that can address their specific needs.

“Employees need to connect and collaborate in real-time with other team members or customers to get a task done,” he says.

While using collaboration solutions like Zoom, Skype, Cisco WebEx and Microsoft Teams, companies should look for tools that ensure hassle-free installation on multiple devices such as desktops, laptops, mobile phones and tablets.

Integration of cyber security: The most critical aspect of a good virtual office network is cyber security, as an unprotected network is a fertile ground for hackers to thrive on.

“Organisations must introduce resilient security policies and provide secured devices, software and corporate networks. It must also ensure that all access to an enterprise’s data and systems is through a secured VPN (virtual private network),” he said.

Hygiene practices for employees: Employees, if they don’t follow basic cyber hygiene practices, can become weak links.

Neelesh asks them to change their default passwords on their home Wi-Fi router to prevent hackers from accessing the network. “Using strong and unique passwords on every account and device, along with two-factor authentication, should be made mandatory,” he advises.

“Employees should use software provided by the company to share files and data, and refrain from using personal email or third party services,” he observes.

Reskilling, upskilling of staff: Neelesh says employees should be reskilled or upskilled in order to make them aware of the cyber challenges.

“Working remotely is a cultural and habitual change and it requires training and certain amount of hand-holding,” he points out.

As this was a sudden shift and employees did not get time to prepare for it, companies need to come up with proper training modules to equip their people to operate efficiently in the virtual workplace set-up.

Published on June 05, 2020
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