Navigating The Topsy-Turvy Times

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What strange times we are currently living in. With workers who are able to work from home (WFH) being told to do so, and essential key workers (emergency services, the military, essential supplies and utility industries) needing to brave the external environment. I have talked to many folks this week about their experience of WFH and hearing many of their woes. VPNs not able to sustain the volume of connections needed, applications which apparently are not set up for remote connections, through to security policies that are not able to determine which sensitive information should be allowed to be accessed from where.

What I have noticed is that WFH shows we are all human. Children in the background who need entertaining, dogs that need attention and cats that need stroking. All of a sudden we gain a more empathetic relationship with our clients and colleagues, and let’s face it most of us go to work because we need to support our family, whatever shape that may take. I am lucky that my daughter has a senior role in in the Emergency Room and that means with her now having to work full time to support Covid-19 patients, my wife and I get to spend more time with our grandson, and he has enlivened a few of my video conferences and help us all realise what is important in these times.

It is very easy for clients that I talk to, to take the option of do nothing, but once we get through the initial, and important, challenge of getting workers to be able to work remotely, they can start to look at how they can improve that experience. All organisations should consider the security of their data and information; more and more people are starting to understand that pure security based labelling is not sufficient. Restricted or sensitive actually mean nothing to a remote worker. If the system gives me access, then I will use it.  Personally I have already received in two days, three files which I am sure the originating organisations did not mean to send to me, because their security policies were one dimensional, and not a business taxonomy.

What do I mean by that?  Multiple labels that a business user can understand, Sensitive /HR/Salaries or Internal/ Support/Client Data or even Confidential/ Board Only/Project X/Aggressive Takeover.

So until you start to use day-to-day business language in your classification terms, do not be surprised if your staff get it wrong. Helpfully some of those labels can be automatically applied depending upon the departments, and roles they have, so even less user involvement is needed.

However, let me not finish without saying now is a great time to hold proof of concepts, once your immediate tasks of getting remote workers are all up and running. This will then help you to make decisions which can safeguard your organisation’s information and data in a controlled manner.

Governments are telling us not to panic buy, that there will be a plentiful supply of food and essentials. We need to continue the cycle of money for economies to survive, and support businesses within that ecosystem who need the flow of cash to pay staff. I appreciate not all projects can continue, but a blanket excuse of do nothing could halt the economic cycle. If we do that then nobody should be surprised when we come out of the end of the current crisis that their favoured contractors and suppliers are no longer trading. We owe it to ourselves, families and communities to do unto them which we would like them to do to us. Please keep safe and healthy.