In 2018, nearly a quarter of the American workforce was already working remotely. While we’ve had available technology to support remote workers for some time, the COVID-19 outbreak has influenced an unprecedented shift to remote working en masse. This is a major change for employees and employers. In addition to this logistical adjustment, the realities of the pandemic’s widespread effects on employment, health, the supply chain and global economies can all cause undue stress for everyone. While this event is unprecedented, times of crisis illustrate why it's important for C-level executives to balance the needs of the company, its security and culture with a level of human empathy, too.
In challenging times, teams will naturally look toward leaders for guidance. However, in incidents of global scale, even the most seasoned leaders may feel inadequately prepared. Despite this, it’s important to maintain control and a positive outlook. I tend to remind myself of the serenity prayer, which asks for peace and acceptance for the things we cannot change, the courage to change what we can, and the wisdom to know the difference. This is a time to be wise and focus on the things we can change.
Often, leaders believe it’s their job to have all the answers. This can be a damaging mindset. We must remember that we can only control what is ours to control; this starts by examining essential business and technical concerns, as well as the human elements behind all of these.
We must recognize that employees are feeling stress too, so it’s essential that we encourage everyone (ourselves included) to make time for self-care measures that maintain physical and emotional wellbeing. These activities don’t have to be costly. Some ideas are as simple as talking to a trusted friend or taking a break to engage in a fun activity with your children. We’re all experiencing a dramatic change to our usual situations and learning to navigate a new normal.
As a CEO, I place a high value on conducting regular communications with my leadership team. It’s my job to make sure that team leaders are encouraging workers to maintain productivity and workflow, to ensure the business remains strong and well-prepared to adjust to changing conditions, as needed. At NTT Application Security, we share important details and information with our team regularly, including communicating with our clients regarding the maintenance of our operations, commitments to our service for them and all the measures we’re using to keep them and our employees safe.
Throughout my career, I’ve had the privilege of managing global teams. This experience has strengthened my leadership style and guided my preferences for staying connected to my team, regardless of where in the world our work and families may take us. This includes using technology like video calls, tools such as Slack, Zoom, or Google Hangouts, to make the transition to remote work less jarring. With these tools at our disposal, teams should be well equipped to communicate and maintain the cadence they had before. In some cases, we may even see improvements to the team’s overall communication. Using new communication tools may not be a welcome addition to everyone, especially if there’s a learning curve they must conquer. However, I think everyone will recognize that the benefits to being connected to the team far outweigh the price we might pay if we were isolated.
Leaders who are managing a hybrid business model may find the shift to being fully remote exceptionally challenging. In this circumstance, it is important to allocate a resource who is prepared to field questions related to access, IT or connectivity. Also, with so many companies quickly shifting from physical offices to individual homes, company websites and intranets have now become essential to the company’s success. This means that the security and maintenance of web applications is absolutely critical and should be prioritized.
Without question, it can be more difficult to prioritize and manage network security when your entire workforce is suddenly doing business in disparate locations. This is where leaders should be actively setting security policies and ensuring individual staffers abide by them, to protect the business and the personal privacy of themselves and their coworkers. This is a good time to remind employees of good cyber-hygiene habits like only using websites that have SSL certificates, being mindful to examine emails from non-trusted senders and avoiding clicking links that may be associated with phishing scams. Phishing emails are often recognized by the email address not matching the name of the trusted or unknown person sending you the email, spelling errors in the email or hyperlinks that don’t lead where they are expected to.
In summary, while we’re faced with a challenging road ahead, and leaders have much to be concerned about, we also have opportunities to continue learning from other leaders too as we adjust to a remote working environment. During this time, I welcome you to contact me or one of the team leaders at NTT Application Security for advice on navigating your leadership or security challenges. Remember that in uncertain times, we can only control ourselves and our responses to adversity. What’s important is that we look out for one another and remember that we’re all in this together. Reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.