While rushing to roll out remote work capabilities, many small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) overlook vital security considerations. Now that working remotely has become the norm, users lose the protections of company firewalls, making IT security more critical than ever before.
The checklist below can act as a guide for SMBs to reevaluate remote readiness and prompts strategic decision making to ensure the integrity of company data, allowing staff to focus on production:
Communicate About Company Connectivity
- Enable cloud-based solutions for corporate communication, version control, and data backup. Consider saving documents to a backed-up location like the company server, cloud server or cloud sync application to avoid data loss.
- Consider hardwiring work devices into home modems, which can offer a more stable internet connection than WiFi. If working in practical proximity to a router and LAN connection port on the computer, connecting to the modem/router with a LAN cable can remove interference/signal drain as WiFi is shared among most home devices (Phones, OTT TV’s, Tablets, and more).
Secure Tech Systems with Tools & Staff Training
- Connecting company devices to outside internet networks can create attack paths for security threats. Installing endpoint protection on remote devices can protect a company’s computer network.
- Consider enabling multi-factor authentication (MFA) or security products for critical apps or email.
- Install a web security app to prevent users from visiting malicious sites.
- Conduct employee training on remote policies and best practices with the following basic security knowledge:
- Beware of phishing emails, avoid using public WiFi, ensure home routers are secured (with complex passwords) and verify the security of devices that are used remotely.
- Make sure work devices are shut down/locked and password protected when in a public setting and/or not in use.
- Audit passwords to ensure they are complex and manage passwords with a tool like LastPass.
Account for Assets Accordingly
- Take inventory of remote IT assets to prevent hardware “leakage.”
- Avoid allowing remote access from personal PCs into business networks via VPN or Remote Desktop.
- Enable conditional server access to restrict users’ access to the least privilege necessary.
- Create a remote work and data protection policy for employees to sign.
- Consider consistent security patch/update processes and reporting to ensure PCs are being maintained while operating remotely.
For help assessing the security and efficiency of your business technology, please contact Connecting Point at 970-356-7224.
Payroll & Workforce Services
Were you one of the lucky companies who received PPP funds? If you want to have those funds forgiven, you are required to spend those funds over the next 8 weeks on employee and office costs. Below are the required guidelines:
25% spend on utilities, rent and commercial mortgage interest
75% spend on employee costs – it is advisable to increase your pay cycle to make sure you are maxing out these costs. Consider moving to a weekly payroll.
- Gross wages (wages over $100k per annum are excluded)
- Can include PTO leave pay just not the FFCRA pay
- State unemployment premiums
- Employer costs for employee’s health insurance
- Employer retirement matches
Your loan forgiveness will be reduced if you decrease your Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) headcount, remember the purpose of the loan is to keep employees on payroll. You can rehire laid off employees that were let go in the months of February 15th – April 27th, 2020, to increase your full-time number. If you utilize Payroll Vault services, we will calculate the full-time equivalent and provide a report for you.
Your loan forgiveness will also be reduced if you decrease salaries and wages by more than 25% for any employee that made less than $100,000 annualized in 2019 during the eight-week loan period compared to the pre-loan baseline wages and salary. The baseline is the total salary and wages earned by the employee during the last completed calendar quarter before the loan period (i.e., first quarter 2020).
It’s advisable to utilize a payroll specialist to work alongside your trusted advisors and bank to help make sure you get the maximum amount of PPP funds forgiven. We are here to assist you with all your payroll needs.
Like our colleagues in hospitals and long-term care facilities, COVID-19 has had a profound impact on hospice and palliative care. Our patient population is comprised entirely of people at high risk of severe illness and death from the novel coronavirus, so our patients and families have been hyper-vigilant about staying safe. Over a third of our patients live in senior care communities (skilled nursing, assisted living, or independent living), and by necessity these facilities have had to implement stringent visit restrictions which at times include our clinicians. All of us have gotten a crash course in telemedicine.
Fortunately for Pathways, our inventory of personal protective equipment (PPE) – particularly the critically-important N95 masks – was solid before the pandemic, and we are continually ordering more, but supply chain issues have resulted in orders taking weeks to arrive. The safety of our skilled and dedicated staff is of paramount importance to us, and we continue to do all that we can to mitigate risk, particularly when they are caring for COVID positive patients.
We are unable to accept COVID positive patients at the Pathways Hospice Care Center (PHCC), our 6-bed inpatient unit at McKee Medical Center in Loveland, primarily due to the lack of negative pressure rooms. This is our only limitation when it comes to caring for COVID positive patients; we are able to do so in all other settings in the community. Pathways is planning to break ground later this year on a 12-bed, freestanding inpatient care center adjacent to our offices on Carpenter Road in Fort Collins, and that facility will include at least two negative pressure rooms so we won’t have this limitation in future infectious disease emergencies.
Pathways for Grief & Loss, our community grief support program, continues to provide individual and group bereavement counseling via videoconference and phone. Sadly, our grief counseling services are needed now more than ever. Many families are experiencing the death of a loved one from afar, unable to be at the bedside because of visit restrictions that are necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19. We can anticipate a rolling surge of clients with complicated grief in the months ahead, and our counseling staff is prepared for that eventuality.
Although COVID-19 has certainly disrupted our usual way of doing things, Pathways has risen and adapted to the challenge and is more committed than ever to ensuring that residents of northern Colorado receive the highest quality hospice, palliative care, and grief support services when they are needed most. We will continue to fully live our mission in collaboration with our community partners throughout the healthcare system. Please be well, stay safe, continue to wear masks and maintain social distance in public, and know that we are here when you need us.
Soon after the coronavirus pandemic disrupted business as usual, small and large businesses alike immediately had to shutter their doors or find new ways to operate under the restrictions of social distancing and stay-at-home orders.
Businesses will have to shift yet again once the pandemic is over and things return to not-so-normal from changes in markets and behaviors. As businesses do so, they should engage in honest, fair and trustworthy practices—customers will remember them for avoiding cutting corners and setting a great example in these uncertain times.
This shift may take innovating products and services, working on recovery plans and finding new ways to bring back customers who may have altered their buying patterns or reduced their spending.
Innovation isn’t only about products and services; it’s about creating value for customers in a thoughtful manner. Right now, customers are seeking ways to replace their favorite theaters, restaurants, coffee shops and gathering places.
Once the pandemic ends, can you think of what your customers will value then? Will they be more reluctant to go out or go to places with large groups? Will they be more cautious in their interactions?
Whatever you do, make the customer the center of your business model, showing them it’s about their needs and not about what your business does.
Plan for Recovery
Secondly, plan for recovery when customers will be able to return to the storefront and want to spend again. Collect data from your social media profiles; launch surveys to identify customer needs and desires; and create campaigns and offerings now that you can implement post-crisis.
Update Online Profiles
Another recovery plan is to keep your business’s online profiles updated. Use the right-size images and the same branding image across platforms and in emails and other correspondence. Choose the right keywords in profiles and blog posts to improve discoverability in online searches. And build social trust by asking customers for recommendations, reviews and endorsements.
Also, think about your business in the long-term. Once the coronavirus is under control, businesses will want to have an emergency response plan in place, particularly for the next pandemic or global crisis.
The result will be a stronger and more decisive leadership, a quicker response to change and even better offerings for the customer.
Promote Your BBB Accreditation
BBB’s logo sums it up, “Start With Trust.” Businesses that are accredited abide by BBB’s ethical business practices and carry out the BBB Standards for Trust, which consists of eight principles important for creating and maintaining trust in business.
The principles include building trust by establishing and maintaining a positive track record in the marketplace, advertising honestly, telling the truth about products and services, being transparent, honoring promises, responding to marketplace disputes, safeguarding privacy and embodying integrity in business dealings and transactions.
And remember building trust now makes recovery later that much easier.
Start with Trust® For more tips and information, visit bbb.org.
Who knew Columbine Health Systems would be the first to have COVID-19 in a nursing home in Colorado? Do I wish we had been second or even 35th? No. Being first afforded us a direct connection and support from the Colorado Department of Health and Environment and the CDC – on the 4th day after our first case.
We have learned together what this disease means to residents and staff in a nursing home and have worked together in the formulation of guidance and direction for protocols and action. We continue to seek their support and are grateful.
We already had an amazing relationship with our Larimer County Department of Health and Environment, spanning many years. We have become even closer as we work together to fight through COVID-19 – something we did not bring but are battling every day. For those of us who care for the elderly, we know this battle may last many more months. We will need their ongoing assistance and advice as we continue to work together on behalf of our residents and staff.
Our staff are the true stars in all of this. They come to work with commitment and dedication to provide the best care they can to all residents. While COVID-19 positive residents are receiving our utmost attention, many other resident’s needs are being met as well. Helping residents who must stay in their rooms, eat in their rooms, and joining small activity events – 6 feet apart with a mask on – and return to their room, without family visits except by phone or iPad – is a new kind of care for us. Our staff are going above and beyond to meet everyone’s needs.
We thank our residents and families for their faith and trust in our care.
Caring for our community Matters!