Blog

Jun 27, 2020

People, Property and Data: Three Priorities for Navigating the New Normal

We are all experiencing one of the most profound transitional periods in modern history. A triumvirate of critical factors, including healthcare, economic, and societal changes, are quickly reshaping today’s business landscape, forcing companies to evolve or be left behind.

These changes have serious implications for businesses who are now grappling with a shifting consumer landscape, adjusted workplace arrangements, and a deluge of new cybersecurity threats.

In other words, successful companies will need a plan to account for their people, property, and data in the weeks and months ahead. Navigating this new normal requires intentional strategies for these priorities.

Here’s where it starts:

People
The Coronavirus necessitated an overnight transition to remote work that Time Magazine described as “the world’s largest work-from-home experiment.” Now, it’s clear that this experiment is more of a feature than a bug.

Even after the Coronavirus subsides, employees will not immediately return to the office. According to an April Gallup poll, three-fifths of remote workers prefer to continue working from home, a new normal that presents unique, long-term challenges and opportunities for many organizations.

However, offices will not close down. Instead, businesses will accommodate a hybrid workforce of on-site, remote, and distributed teams. In this environment, every organization needs the right tools to keep people safe and productive. On-site, this means:

  • Controlling visitor access points
  • Screening personnel and visitors upon entrance
  • Logging staff and visitors for contact tracing
  • Displaying digital signage for entry point guidance.

Of course, for remote workers, having the systems in place to facilitate collaboration, communication, and productivity can help ensure that physical distance doesn’t create a disparity between your team and its goals.

Property
On-site workplaces will necessarily look different moving forward. Many companies will need to rethink their office arrangements, ensuring that employees can practice social distancing guidelines while minimizing opportunities for so-called “superspreader” events.

The Department of Homeland Security estimates that COVID-19 can survive on surfaces for many hours or even days, so even the most ambitious hand washing regimens may not be enough to stop the virus from spreading. Minimizing contact with high-touch surfaces can reduce this risk, making it safer for employees to navigate the workplace.

Organizations will need to rethink their operations by relying on touchless technologies that can reduce the spread of germs and disease. For instance, wave readers and exit button systems can replace high-touch surfaces like pin pads or biometric sensors. Similarly, auto-operated access control doors in bathrooms and high traffic areas can reduce exposure.

For companies requiring a collaborative space, touchless meeting rooms can facilitate interactions while minimizing surface exposure to the virus through cables, remotes, and controllers.

Data
The rapid transition to remote work and the general unease of the moment has created a perfect environment for bad actors and accidental cyber threats. For example, phishing attacks, malicious messages that trick employees into sharing sensitive information, increased by 350% since the onset of COVID-19. Google estimates that it’s blocking 18 million malware messages each day.

Not all threats originate outside of the company. Stressed out remote employees working in unusual circumstances are especially potent cyber threats, as everything from personal device use to unsecured internet connections puts company data at risk.

Since a cybersecurity incident has never been more expensive and customers are increasingly willing to walk away from businesses that can’t protect their digital environments, securing data, already a top priority for many companies, takes on even greater importance.

Fortunately, data loss isn’t inevitable. There are steps that every company can take to secure its data, including:

  • Providing VPN access to all employees
  • Integrating remote access to security management systems
  • Enabling notifications from security management systems
  • Encrypting and authenticating all data to ensure it’s cyber secure.

These actions can augment your other cybersecurity initiatives to more completely secure your data in this new, more dangerous, digital environment.

A Note for Leaders
Undoubtedly, today’s shifting landscape is substantial, and organizations will need to make significant strategic decisions to meet the moment. It’s also an opportunity to emerge better, healthier, and more relevant than ever before.

Analyzing the challenging reorientation facing today’s companies, McKinsey & Co. reminds leaders, “The moment is not to be lost: those who step up their game will be better off and far more ready to confront the challenges—and opportunities—of the next normal than those who do not.”

Embracing these priorities is a first step toward ensuring that your organization is prepared to navigate the new normal successfully. Of course, you don’t have to tackle these priorities alone. At IST, we have the experiences, insights, and tools to help you meet the moment. Contact us today to learn more.