two people sit at a workplace computer working on a business continuity plan

The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown have struck a tremendous blow to SMBs all over the country. As businesses close their doors in an effort to preserve public health and safety, much of the US economy has ground to a standstill in the space of a month.

In order to survive, businesses have had to adapt. They’ve had to facilitate remote working on a grand scale, making sweeping changes to their operations on the fly. This has opened up potential vulnerabilities when it comes to their security, productivity and, ultimately, profitability. And despite the Trump administration’s eagerness to return to business as usual, there’s still a way to go before daily life returns to normal.

However, even the darkest and most ominous of clouds has a silver lining. While we may yearn to go back to the way things were before, we can take this time to learn how to be better than we were before the outbreak.

The current disruption provides SMBs with an opportunity to take stock of their daily processes and preparedness for future obstacles to allow them to bounce back stronger than ever before. They can use lessons learned from this crisis to ensure their business’s continuity in the future.

With that in mind, here are some steps for struggling companies which can help them stay strong throughout the duration of the pandemic and beyond.

Reevaluate Processes and Automation

With so many changes happening, now is the perfect time to rethink legacy operational structures and processes from the ground up. Prior to the outbreak, you may not have given that much thought to your business’s continuity plan or preparations for potential disruptions—or you might not have had much of a plan in the first place. But, given these unique circumstances, businesses are drastically rethinking their disaster recovery and continuity approaches, using this experience as a springboard to launch their daily and emergency plans forward.

One of the most obvious examples of this is employees working remotely. Even prior to the outbreak, businesses were beginning to learn that remote working could not only save on overhead costs but actually improve employee productivity.

With employees working from home out of necessity, companies have become exposed to a host of new digital tools they might not have considered before. Video conferencing platforms, email autoresponders, messaging and productivity platforms like Slack and Asana, and automated workflow can change the way teams operate and improve productivity.

If your company didn’t already have remote work options in place, you almost certainly do now. But why restrict this potentially efficient operational model to times of crisis?

Moving forward, it is beneficial for businesses to consider continuing to utilize remote work options. As you grapple with the logistics of managing your team remotely, it’s a great time to discover what tools will work best with a remote workforce. Allow yourself to try out new digital solutions as you implement new technology and automation to make your work processes more efficient.

Implement VPNs and Cloud Solutions for Remote Data Access

Speaking of technologies, it’s time to start considering new solutions to facilitate your change in working conditions. Cloud solutions or a VPN can be a great place to start. Cloud solutions have long been vaunted for their near-infinite scalability and cost efficiency. With employees working at a range of different locations, having a central repository for storing and access data will obviously be highly advantageous.

However, it’s also important to ensure that other cybersecurity measures are implemented to overcome the potential vulnerabilities of employees’ home networks and keep your cloud operations secure. If, on the other hand, your business uses in-house servers, setting up a VPN will allow employees to access files remotely from any location. This can be another great way to meet the challenges of data access during this outbreak. The unfortunate truth is that cyber criminals are callous opportunists. Don’t let your business become an easy target.

Work with a Managed Service Provider

Laying a sound foundation for business continuity on your own can be seriously challenging. Partnering with a Managed Service Provider (MSP) can be invaluable for your organization, both during the pandemic and when life returns to business as usual. Not only can an MSP help you implement technology strategies to help your business thrive both during lockdown and during normal operations, but they can also reestablish plans to ensure future changes or IT disruptions don’t impact your business.

An MSP offering business continuity services can evaluate your current infrastructure and remote network and determine which new digital solutions can help your company thrive and evolve to meet and conquer future challenges.

Most importantly, they can ensure that the security of your remote network setup is absolutely airtight, eliminating vulnerabilities and helping your company avoid major losses due to data theft or loss.

Although circumstances are difficult for businesses across the board, your company can take this time as an opportunity to rethink your business continuity by implementing new technologies and policies that will catapult you into a productive and profitable future.