Just 3 months ago, Coronavirus was unheard of: now it features daily in the news headlines and it appears that Covid19 needs to be taken seriously as a threat, both on a personal level and to our businesses.

Early on we at Computer Troubleshooters felt the impact when the supply of a laptop battery was delayed due to logistics companies being closed down in China. Currently it is not clear what the long-term implications are for trade and supply, but it looks like we cannot take it for granted that we can order up equipment immediately at the click of a button.

It’s unusual for IT companies to be worried about viruses which have not been generated by cyber criminals, but it is clear that your computer setup will have its part to play in your response to the current crisis.

The main government advice is to wash hands thoroughly and cough into tissues to prevent the spread of the virus.  It is said that the areas of the office harbouring the most germs are not the toilets but in fact the computer keyboards.  Douglas Adams appears to have got it right in his Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy Trilogy when the Golgafrinchams decided not to take the phone sanitisers* with them in their Ark, only for the race to contract a deadly virus from a filthy telephone!  Check out the full story in Restaurant at the End of the Universe – it’s worth a read.

*for you younger readers, phone sanitisers were a real profession distinct from cleaners.  I remember them turning up weekly in our offices in the 1980s with their cleaning wipes to clean our handsets.

How you handle your workforce during an epidemic is primarily an HR matter rather than an IT issue.  Fortunately, I know an excellent HR consultant who will be able to advise you on the measures you need to implement in your company.  Ben Holt of Sightscreen HR has given me the following advice:

With the cases of Coronavirus on the increase in the UK and constant media coverage of the situation, it can be difficult to know what to do as an employer. ACAS (who produce a range of guidance on employment issues for employers and employees) have issued the following guidance:  https://www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus which is a helpful starting point. However, the precise steps that you take will vary depending on your environment and the type of work you do. For further advice on this, we recommend contacting Ben Holt at Sightscreen HR who specialises in providing HR advice for SME’s and not-for-profit organisations. You can get in touch with Ben at ben@sightscreenhr.co.uk.  You can check out his website here.

IT does, of course, have a role to play, as it does in every aspect of business life nowadays. You need to consider the following questions:

How will your business cope if your staff decide to self-isolate or you decide to impose a quarantine?

If you want your team members to work remotely, does your IT setup allow remote access to the documents and emails they need while keeping your business secure against cyber attack?

Will you allow your employees to use their own devices to access company data? How will you ensure that they have sufficient antivirus protection and are up-to-date with patching?

Or will you allow them to take company computers home?  What will you do if the device is reported lost or stolen?

You need to review your IT setup and security now before the last-minute panic buying sets in.  Call Computer Troubleshooters today on 01732 300064

And above all, as the cover of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Universe reassuringly says: DON’T PANIC