Matrix42, a specialist in digital workspace management, carried out a company-wide “corona stress test” on 13 March, during which all of its over 400 employees worked remotely at different company sites. Problems and weaknesses were identified and eliminated in an ongoing process. All employees have been working effectively and securely from home since 16 March. Matrix42 is up to 100 percent productive and is publishing its six-point plan as a recommendation for companies on working during a pandemic.
“The crisis surrounding COVID-19 is a stress test for digitalization across the world,” says Oliver Bendig, CEO at Matrix42. “It has become clear that this crisis has changed digital work forever. Work is no longer a place – instead, it’s something that you do. Investing in the digital workplace is more important than ever before to allow employees to work flexibly and securely from home. This means that every company can play their part in preventing the spread of COVID-19.”
Something that may seem so simple at first glance can lead to complications in practice. After all, what company – excluding start-ups – is already 100 percent prepared for remote work? Some things have to be clarified: Is the infrastructure sufficiently equipped and secure against cyberattacks? Do all employees have mobile work devices? And can these work devices be managed from any location? Oliver Bendig: “The digital workplace has proven to be the most critical element of IT during this pandemic. It’s the IT department’s task to strike the right balance between productivity and security for everyone.”
In preparation for seamless remote work, a team tested and implemented a business continuity plan at Matrix42 for a week. The team put together a risk analysis in the first step to identify the most relevant potential problem areas in advance and prepare potential solutions. This included the question of whether the infrastructure would be adequate for over 400 people or how IT availability could be guaranteed, for example.
The findings of the test can be summed up as follows: Matrix42 can ensure 99.9 percent business continuity. Even with all employees working remotely. If a severe disruption occurs, it can be resolved within a maximum of 30 minutes. The IT department ensures that normal day-to-day business can be fully maintained. Whether the employees work with a company device or a private device (BYOD).
Along with technical issues, one factor that was not to be underestimated was internal communication. For that reason, the tests were announced to all employees at the beginning through an internal newsletter via e-mail and the corporate social network. An emergency crisis team made up of HR and IT employees was also formed to inform all employees on the topics of security and productivity every day.
Working remotely during a pandemic – a six-point plan
1. Create transparency within the infrastructure
This primarily relates to questions like: As a company, have we sufficient access points so that all employees are able to work from home? And how do employees connect to the network? Bandwidth, availability of telephones on-premises, sufficient server capacity, and adequate hardware are crucial for a company’s productivity.
2. Organizational preparation
Making collaboration tools like Yammer and Teams available is recommended in order to be best prepared for an emergency. These allow colleagues to help each other via the channel if they are experiencing issues. This means that they do not put a strain on support. Another important point to bear in mind is migrating the telephone system – in a best-case scenario to the cloud. This allows telephones to be redirected to workstations at home. Establishing a special task force may also be helpful.
3. Examine business-critical applications
An analysis of which business applications have to be made available is necessary so that all employees are able to continue working productively. For example – will the accountant also be able to access SAP from home?
The attack vectors multiply as soon as employees begin working remotely. This isn’t just because some employees will probably (have to) work on their private devices. In an ideal situation, virtual desktops are set up. So that all end devices can be secured relatively easily and automatically.
If you’re asking yourself how employees who are working from home can be provided with an efficient Service Desk, then this is where enterprise service management solutions can come in handy. The question of how the company handles cases in which an incident occurs because of employees working on private devices also needs to be clarified. A pragmatic approach in which employee productivity takes center stage is recommended here.
Last but not least, we recommend continuously tracking and reporting departmental issues and the productivity of employees working from home. Corresponding measures can thus be derived on this basis.