Staying Connected While Working Remotely
In today’s episode Colin Rooke and Paul Martin are joined by Chris Yeo from Professional Computer Services to discuss how to stay connected with your team in a safe and efficient way, while working remotely
Listen to the full episode here, or read the full transcript below
Paul Martin: Welcome to Risky Business, Commercial Insurance with Butler Byers. This is Paul Martin and joining me today, Colin Rooke, the commercial risk reduction specialist with Butler Byers. And also joining us is Chris Yeo and Chris is going to talk to us about, well, Colin, the kind of stuff that we’ve been talking about for a long time, which is cyber, cyber crime, cyber security, what business owners need to do to protect their organizations, their data, their information, really their customers. And we’ve talked a lot about it in theory, today, we’re going to talk about it in practice, I think, is that what’s up?
Colin Rooke: Yeah. So for those listening, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about cyber crime and I always say that I think every show that that could be the topic, every week it’s different. We’re not doing that today. I mean, it’s going to have a flare, a little bit of cyber crime flare, but I want to talk about… So with COVID 19, initially in March, everyone was racing to get home and figure out, what does the home office look like? And I think there was a lot of… I mean, there’s those organizations that were saying, “Hey, we were proactive, we were completely ready to go.” Which is great. And I’m going to say a lot of those organizations, certainly more traditional organizations may not have been.
Colin Rooke: So you’re scrambling to get set up at home and then you think, “Well, how long is this going to last?” I mean, realize, okay, now we’re into May and this is looking like the new normal. So you may have done some sort of break fix, okay? So we had a makeshift set up because we thought it might be short lived. Now it’s a turning into a bit of the new normal, so we’re changing things around. And now I wanted to talk about this is the new normal. So now that we’ve had time to kind of reevaluate, look at things, and for those that are fighting with getting connected with Zoom or Teams or Google Meet, or just plain connectivity in general, I wanted to talk to Chris from Professional Computer Services to say, what do business owners need to be thinking about now? What can they do to ensure proper setup?
Colin Rooke: And here’s the cyber crime flair, I have talked about the fact that with home offices, it’s the low hanging fruit now. We’ve got organizations connected differently so best way to protect yourself, your organization, is there anything that people need to be aware of that they might be doing? They might think they’re doing the right way from home but it’s probably not, and just what to think around the home office and what you can do there?
Paul Martin: This sounds like it’s one of those, it could be an endless kind of conversation, the menu could go on forever. But I think a very timely topic because you’re right, as I notice, even some of the headlines, particularly coming out of the major cities of what we thought was going to be a two, three month kind of thing, now, here we are six months into it and you see major banks and these kinds of people saying, “They’re not getting back to the office till next year.” I mean, clearly this is becoming… it’s part of the way we’re just going to be doing business. And so we’re changing the way we do business, and I think your argument here is from a risk perspective, we need to change the way we do the business.
Paul Martin: And so let’s bring Chris in from Professional Computer Services. Chris, I mean, you’ve probably seen everything so far and here we are six months into this pandemic lockdown. And my guess is you’ve seen paperclips and bubble gum, holding computer systems together at home, and you’ve probably seen some sophisticated ones, what have you seen? What are the most common questions business owners are saying to you, particularly smaller business owners?
Chris Yeo: Well, thanks for having us on the call here today. Work from home is a big topic, it covers a lot of bases and there’s a lot of things to think about. And I mean, you can start off with just, what is the easy part? What is the internet connection they have at home? I mean, I live out of town, up until recently my internet connection sucked. So I mean, I can see the city from my house, but certainly wasn’t able to perform my job as well when I was working at home because I didn’t have that connectivity. So connectivity is a big piece from a work from home point of view. So if your internet at your house sucks, your overall experience, your overall work capabilities is going to be lowered. If you’re inside the city, I mean, we have good internet providers inside the city, outside the city it’s just a little tougher. From there-
Paul Martin: Oh, sorry, I didn’t mean to cut you off there, but just an interesting point. Are you hearing pressure on internet providers to upgrade, go to fiber, all of these kinds of things that would just accelerate things? Is this part of the conversation of 5G?
Chris Yeo: It is part of the conversation of 5G. Longterm, fiber is going to provide a better overall experience. There are a few companies that are providing fiber out into rural areas, but it is more of the smaller players. It’s a pretty hard piece to go through in order to provide fiber internet to somebody that might live 800 meters away from his neighbor and then 800 meters away from the next neighbor. So 5G will certainly help, 4G is okay. But the other piece that goes along with using cellular technology is there tends to be bandwidth gaps and you get either traffic shake down or you get no internet at all.
Chris Yeo: And I mean, if you’re using that for your home network, so your kids are on Netflix, you’re trying to do your work, if your kids are doing their schooling from home now, because that’s something that is somewhat more common, then they’re on video meetings just like we are right now, and all of those pieces chew up bandwidth. So when you add in your work on top of the rest of the pieces that are going on there, you need good, fast, reliable internet. And it needs to stay that way all month long because you can’t stop working halfway through the month because you hit your bandwidth gap.
Paul Martin: That’s a really good point. We are recording this show from home and remotely, and I had to, I had to upgrade my own internet because I could pinpoint, there’s times where even on the show where I can tell I’ve got half the house streaming or having a classroom meeting while someone’s on YouTube and/or Netflix. So yeah, really important thing to consider even for again, shows like Risky Business. And I think that one of the messages in all of this is that business owners need to temper their expectations a little bit or say, not everybody is going to be performing at the same level because we are remote and everybody’s a different setup and we need to change our expectations or if we can’t change our expectations, then be part of the solution. Are you hearing that, Chris, that business owners come to you and say, “Help me equip my people more effectively?”
Chris Yeo: Yeah, equip the people. Some people have their own computers that they want to use, which brings certain risk. And we recommend that the corporate data stay on the corporate assets. That way there is appropriate security software on the asset, it’s not leaving… I mean, even though it may be from home, it’s not really leaving your organization so that there is less risk from somebody having something on their computer, they get compromised and then you losing corporate data because they didn’t have appropriate security on their device.
Paul Martin: This is just raising all kinds of questions for me. We’ve got to take a little break, so we’re going to just take a couple of minutes on when we come back I want to pick this up about if I’m working from home and my kids are there and we’re all kind of tapped into the same system, do I need to bring the kids up to the same level of security that I’m going to be at, or does the household really become the area that you look at? So think about that for a second, we’ll be back after this. You’re listening to Risky Business, Commercial Insurance with Butler Buyers.
Paul Martin: Welcome back to Risky Business, Commercial Insurance with Butler Buyers. This is Paul Martin joining us today on a video link is Colin Rooke, the commercial risk reduction specialist with Butler Buyers. And I know you’re listening to audio, but we did connect this up because the camera just comes with these deals now. And also joining us is Chris Yeo with Professional Computers. And Chris, I asked you before, so we’ve got four or five computers or devices working in the home. Are they all equally susceptible, and is there cross-pollination? I mean, can cyber attackers come in through the kid and get to me, is that a possible option or come in through my smart TV?
Chris Yeo: It certainly is Paul, but if you’ve taken appropriate controls on your corporate devices, so if you’ve got endpoint security, whether that’s antivirus vendors, firewall and using VPN, which is virtual private network into the office, then it lowers that risk. Obviously, if your kids or spouses or doing something like downloading movies, maybe from sites that they shouldn’t be, I mean, that obviously is going to open up the risk a little bit more for that environment. More and more pieces are cloud controlled, so you’ve got… I mean, when you bring up your smart TV, your smart TV is probably talking back to the internet all the time whether you know it or not, even if it’s not on. If you have a nest then the thermometer’s going back and forth, if you have video cameras.
Chris Yeo: So all those devices are potential ways for people to get access onto that network. So if you are working from home, then you need to have better security on your device than you would have necessarily when you’re working from the office. At the office, you would have edge security already, you’d have endpoint security and all your data would be somewhat confined.
Paul Martin: Colin, I’m hearing here that bells and whistles and must be going off for people like you in the insurance business. And unless you’re pretty sophisticated, you probably need some kind of professional support in this, is that the advice that you’d give to your clients?
Colin Rooke: Yeah. I mean, back to the new normal, what may have worked prior to COVID is probably not working now, which is why I wanted to bring Chris on the show just to talk about giving that, I guess, really a second thought. And again, we got rushed home, we’re working from home or a combination of that now, but are the proper protocols in place? And we’re seeing that too on cyber liability applications. I mean, obviously the insurers and the underwriters are very aware that half the world is working from home. So now they want to know to what degree, what procedures are in place? Are you talking about IT security? Cyber crime is on the rise, there is low hanging fruit there, which is why getting the proper advice from a company like Professional Computer Services on, are we secure? Do we have what we need to one, ward off cyber criminals and also to stay as productive as we should be?
Paul Martin: Chris, jump back in here. The word productivity came up and I’m sure that that’s one that you talk about a lot. That obviously if I have my office equipped with fairly current gear, my people will be working pretty diligently, pretty effectively. Now, I’ll move home, the equipment is not going to be standard across the system, you’re going to have this mishmash of stuff, some is going to be old, some is going to be new. Do you experience that, is that what you’re seeing is occurring out there, that there’s a lack of consistency, if I can put it that way?
Chris Yeo: Well, for the smaller businesses that don’t have a corporate mandate to have a consistent platform, it certainly is. For the people that, back in March, when everyone started working from home, when they said it’s time to start working from home, we need 20 computers right now. Well, sometimes those computers weren’t all the same, sometimes they weren’t anywhere near the same. But from a productivity point of view, one of the big hurdles that we have as a society is communication. I mean, Colin is used to going to the office, seeing a staff, talking to his staff, maybe at breaks, sitting around the water cooler chatting about things. And that doesn’t happen as naturally when you are working from home and you don’t necessarily have the technology in order so that when Colin’s at home, that he can phone from home and be able to talk to one of his clients and make it look like it’s calling from his office.
Chris Yeo: So communication is really key in that productivity piece, and there are certainly some ties that come in that services can help with that. And I think one of the big things is, is that there will be more people using cloud type services where the data doesn’t live in Colin’s office, it lives at the Microsoft data center or the AWS data center. And then everyone accesses it the same way, regardless of whether you’re at the office or at home.
Paul Martin: Wondering if there’s another issue around productivity that, you see the stories now that people are working longer because they’re at home, they’re just five feet from the desk. And so they’ll maybe work in evenings or whatever, but I’m guessing if I’m working on ancient equipment, I’m probably not so inclined to be that generous towards my employer.
Chris Yeo: Well, I think overall, I mean, whether you’re working from home or working from the office, if you’re working on a four or five year old computer, there is a pretty easy cost justification to upgrade that equipment and be able to say well, my payback’s going to be a year and a half, because if I can trim that task that normally takes 10 minutes down to five. Or if I’m sitting, waiting for something for two minutes every hour, then it’s pretty easy to gain that time back with a little bit of extra horsepower.
Paul Martin: Chris, thank you very much for this, you’ve been very insightful. And I think if I walk away with any information on this, it’s that this is probably the kind of topic that you need to consult someone like you. Get some professional advice and support on this because it’s not the kind of thing you can just take a chance with. It’s has the potential to cause some real grief in your business. Colin, I think you might echo that, that the reason we’re talking about this is the industry sees this as a risk.
Colin Rooke: Yeah, agreed. And we’ve talked a lot about lean on this show too, and your comments, Chris, about a task that should take five minutes taking ten, I mean, that’s really important. So if your organization is trying to get lean and it takes forever to get to that point to log in to work, we’re not wasting time with old equipment.
Paul Martin: Well, listen, gentlemen, we’ve run out of time. I want to thank you for this, and I know we could go on and on because this is such a timely topic and it’s affecting so many people, businesses and employees that it’s really something we can dig into probably again, at some point in the future and not get redundant on it. You’ve been listening to Colin Rooke, the commercial risk reduction specialist with Butler Buyers. And I want to thank Chris Yeo from Professional Computer Services for joining us today and providing some insight. This is Risky Business, I’m Paul Martin. Thanks for joining us.