Taking stock of a post-Covid business environment

Have we started to return to normal? Will it be a ‘new normal’, and how much like the old normal will it look? Will the recovery be v-shaped, tick-shaped or bath-shaped? Might we face another lockdown, or a hybrid situation combining home and office working from multiple locations? Our 12 tips on surviving and thriving in a post-Covid world are grouped under three headings: flexibility; the home network; having a plan. Read on.


“The ability to bend easily without breaking”


1.      Zoom out!

You’re set up now but take time to look at the big picture and review how your people are using collaboration platforms

It’s important to understand which features your staff are using and how. It’s rare that people get the best from the functionality available to them.   You may, for good reason, have hastened into using a particular platform, but make sure it’s right for what your business needs. Get it fully integrated with voice, video, file sharing and federation with third parties.

2.      Adapt the way you work

Not everything you do face to face translates into online behaviour

Keep meetings short – not everything that smells like a meeting is a meeting.  Consider giving everyone in the team a tablet to keep an open video call running for informal ‘side by side’ working.   Create guidelines for external meetings or interviews. Dress code, back drop and environment all reflect on your brand.

3. Invest time in training for Teams and other platforms

Make sure everyone knows how to get the most from the tools you’ve deployed

Train your people so they know how to use Teams or any other solution you’ve invested in.  It’s worth considering both the front end and the back end.  Front end training may include best practice for using features like channels, chats, meetings, filing and messaging.  Back end might look at policies, how to set up and configure your security and data loss prevention strategies.

Once set up, you might want to appoint a couple of ‘Teams’ champions, reward them for passing on usage tips…run a weekly Teams quiz… essentially gamify the platform to encourage adoption.

Microsoft Teams Logo

If you need to learn more about Microsoft Teams join our upcoming webinars. We’ll use a live demo environment to share 30 minutes of really practical advice. The first focuses on the front end and getting the most from the platform. The second on the back end and configuring to suit your business. Getting the most from Microsoft Teams

4.      The importance of hardware

Create the right impression

Your communications hardware will say something about your business.  Good earphones or headsets will eliminate background noise and enable better quality calls. A webcam can enhance the quality of what your audience sees; position it at eye level so you can have a conversation without looming over the other person. No-one wants to look up your nose.

Often the best quality camera is on your phone.  There are good apps and tools to adapt your phone camera for PC use, such as Droidcam.

5.      Cloud. And again, cloud.

Match your IT to headcount

Cloud services, especially if they’re subscription based, can be flexed up or down with headcount.  If you have had to furlough staff, switch off their subscriptions.

Cloud based applications allow people to share and access documents or data from any device in any location.  So, if you’re away from your laptop, you can access information from your phone or another device in your house or in your client’s office.

6.      Right tools for the job

Provide safe access to necessary information

Make access to data and documents as easy as possible – but manage permissions.  With the right levels of control in place your team can work freely with all of the tools, data and documents they need.

The home network is the new frontline

The security vector has moved

Working from home brings a new set of security challenges.  The CFO may be sharing her home network with a houseful of gaming teenagers viewing questionable videos.  Staff are downloading their own software or sharing data via file transfer solutions.  For external online meetings the invitee sets the security and may compromise your compliance.

In the short term, our observation is that many CEOs are ‘winging it’ and hoping that nothing bad happens until everyone’s back in the office. It doesn’t have to be like this.

7.      Work out where you are on the spectrum

In between total control and the wild west lies a manageable balance

Find the right level of security for your team to operate safely as well as flexibly. Too protectionist and they can’t work effectively; too loose and your company is exposed.

8.      Mind the gap

What’s missing from their lives?

Before coming down hard on people who’ve found their own way of doing things, spend some to time to find out why: do the tools they’ve been provided with lack some useful functionality? Or are they too tightly locked down? Are they aware of all the tools they can access?

9.      Don’t be too hasty to batten down the hatches

Adopt a strategic approach to conditional access

Consider whether the principle of ‘least privilege’ is still appropriate and don’t be hasty to ‘lock down’.  Ensure that controls take account of who can access information, from which devices and in which locations.

10.      Loosen the reins to regain control

Review the control setting on your current platform 

Don’t simply go with the ‘out-of-the-box’ security settings; some are set to block federation, making it impossible for people outside of your organisation to call or share a document.   If people are using file transfer services or Zoom for meetings it maybe because Teams is locked down too tight.

11.      Yes MAM!

Use all the security features available, investigate MAM, MDM and ATP

Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) has a number of built-in security controls, many of which are underused.  Mobile application management (MAM) features let you publish, push, configure, secure, monitor, and update mobile apps for your users. MAM can protect an organization’s data within an application for all devices, whether enrolled in Intune or not.  Similarly, Mobile Device Management (MDM) includes support for many popular types of mobile devices, such as Windows Phone, Android, iPhone, and iPad. With MDM for Microsoft 365 you can Securely wipe corporate data or all data from a mobile device from anywhere.    Microsoft Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) is Microsoft’s optional cloud-based service that scans and filters email to protect subscribers from malware in attachments and hyperlinks to malicious websites.

The point here, is your BYOD strategy may well be out of date and it is well worth taking time to review the many security features you already have access to or could easily enable.

12.      Review password best practice

Critical components of identity and access management (IAM)

Frequent password changes can use up lots of administration time as people forget their new, hard-to-remember passwords. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) means your access is dependent on knowledge (a password), possession (verification on a device) and inherence (being that individual). Multifactor give you options, but the reality is that in most cases two factor authentication (2FA) a subset of MFA, is all that is needed.  2FA is more secure than reliance on just a password and, with the right technical controls in place provides relatively frictionless, user friendly secure access for your team.

This period of relative quiet provides the gift of time to address some of these issues. It’s time that can be put to good use to review, plan and build in the ‘rocks’ that provide the agility and flexibility to harness opportunities and be resilient to threats.

Finally, ‘have a plan’.

‘It’s not the strongest of the species that survive it’s those most adaptable to change,’

Charles Darwin

If you would like to discuss your plan and the ‘Big Rocks for Success’ get in touch