Q&A, Alex Giordmaina, Giotech: How to get remote working right amid Covid-19

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The lockdown enforced in many countries due to the coronavirus crisis has led to businesses – some of whom in an impromptu fashion – implementing remote working and working from home policies.

As this publication has previously explored, this has resulted in a test of organisations’ infrastructure. While there have been issues raised – particularly in terms of the consequences in enabling employees to do work wherever, whenever – analysts and execs have noted how a more positive view of remote working is emerging.

Alex Giordmaina (left), founder of IT outsourcing provider Giotech, helps set up remote working for various businesses. CloudTech caught up with Giordmaina to find out best practices amid the ‘new normal’ of Covid-19.

CloudTech: Tell me about your career to date, how Giotech came into being and the role the company provides in the IT space?

Alex Giordmaina: Giotech was founded in 2004. After a brief period working for other IT providers I discovered a gap in the MSP market for a personalised service that goes above the old limitations of providing IT services in isolation from other business functions. At Giotech we provide a range of services from a fully managed solution to modules extending and enhancing part or all of your IT infrastructure. We become part of your internal IT as key stakeholders. We also provide value added consultancy on a wide range of business processes where IT links with other departments such as with GDPR compliance or ISMS completion.

CT: Could you give me an example of a good case study and how Giotech solved their IT issues?

AG: We have a housing provider charity who have links to a local authority. They had shown a substantial period of growth in the two years before they joined us but their IT infrastructure had not kept up and they had outgrown their IT provider who could not scale up to support their size.
They came to us and we immediately put an IT roadmap in place prioritising what was urgent to remedy to ensure legal compliance, then moving on to business efficiency. We worked with them to improve the stability and security of their infrastructure including having a robust and well tested disaster recovery and business continuity plan. Our work on our own ISO27001 left us perfectly suited to understand what is needed for network security and DR planning. We also consulted on ways to improve efficiency and productivity through the use of collaboration tools and cloud apps.

As this was a fundamental change to the organisation’s ways of working we also provided end user support, training and upskilling to ensure the changes were positively received. This put the organisation in a much stronger position when the current lock down and remote working situation become necessary.

CT: What effect has the Covid-19 pandemic had on your resources – network resources and staffing resources as more organisations work remotely?

AG: Initially, as expected, there was a dramatic increase in requests to set up remote working but now it is becoming more business as usual. Our own infrastructure setup easily allows for remote working so the switch from office working to remote working was seamless for both our colleagues and our clients who did not notice any difference.

CT: What key concerns are customers coming to Giotech with since the pandemic began?

AG: Clients have concerns predominantly around security and productivity in remote environments. They are seeking advice on what additional security measures can be put in place to prevent unauthorised disclosure of personal/sensitive/confidential information – either by mistake or through nefarious actions. Clients are also asking how to measure the productivity on their teams where output isn’t as easy to define.

CT: What mistakes have you seen companies make when implementing remote working systems and what would you advise against?

AG: The biggest mistakes we have seen is clients thinking that the situation would affect their normal working practices, burying their head in the sand and ignoring the advice given to them- then leaving it too late to get their remote working set up. The clients who have transitioned more smoothly to remote working had clearly defined and tested disaster recovery plans that could be tailored to these particular circumstances – and they reviewed and prepared in advance of the lockdown.

We strongly advise against panicking and just putting in the first solution you come across to support remote working. This can have a massive impact on your network security and usability for remote workers. Speak to your IT provider – they are experts and should know enough about your company set up and goals to be able to advise on the best solution that works for you.

CT: Has there been any advice put out since the Covid-19 outbreak which differs/adds to typical best practice?

AG: The best advice we can give is to treat your remote office as you would your actual office:

  • Make sure your remote computer is in a secure environment away from prying eyes (from the inside or outside)
  • Separate out user accounts if you are using a shared device and don’t let friends or family (particularly young children) use your work user account where confidential information may be accidentally leaked or VIP clients contacted by mistake
  • Ensure you have automatic screen locks in place so that when you leave to answer the door/ make a cup of tea the screen automatically locks after a set period
  • Keep your antivirus and malware protection up to date and ensure if you are using a home device that you have it installed
  • Be on guard for phishing or malware attacks. We have seen a massive increase in phishing and malware attacks and have published a best practice guide that can be downloaded for free from our website

CT: What advice would you give to companies who have been forced to work from home but fear their infrastructure is not fully modernised?

AG: It’s not too late. The [UK] government has indicated that different levels of social distancing will be in place for some time to come so it is work ensuring that your business is set up to facilitate this.

Now that the initial shock is calming down, it is the best time to review and improve your set-up. Speak to your colleagues and employees and ask what isn’t working and what barriers are in place that is affecting security, efficiency or their day to day duties. A good IT provider will be able to advice on how to get to your desired outcome within your budget.

Interested in hearing industry leaders like Giotech discuss subjects like this and sharing their experiences and use-cases? Attend the Cyber Security & Cloud Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam to learn more.

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