Staying safe and secure whilst being ­productive

29 May 2020 | Columns

Jan Coetzee



Namibia may seem remote and often disconnected from the world, but things came starkly into focus. We are part of the global village and shutting down our normal way of life, at least for the foreseeable future, is the only way forward.

“Social distancing” also means “work distancing” as much as possible, because work, education and life goes on.

But how does life go on? We are normally glued to our desks; our laptops and we all have meetings we need to attend. How do we manage now and how do our children manage? They still need to be educated. And however, much they want, they can't be on their tablets indefinitely playing Candy Crush!

In this hyperconnected world we are constantly online and engaged, and the lines between work, play and home have become blurred. Now, with Covid-19 and no end in sight yet, the way we work, rest, play and learn is changing from one day to the next.

This is where tech comes into its own.

As mentioned before, we are constantly connected through our smartphones and myriad other devices. It seems like an obvious and sensible next step to use that technology and connectivity to our advantage when it comes to our work or our children's education.

Our present predicament – the need for telecommuting and e-work – has come starkly into focus. Even without a looming pandemic, it makes sense to telecommute, work from home or at least not get into your car to go to work at exactly the same time as everyone else.



Technical options

Organisations are often already set up for telecommunicating, but often don't utilise the technical options – whether it is having all files accessible in a 'Cloud', the availability of a SharePoint, or simply through Google Drive. The options are endless.

Ensuring that kids don't lag behind educationally, there are options like Google Classroom where assignments are created and distributed among students with the help of Google Drive and classroom communication is provided through Gmail. Teachers can simply add students directly from the Google App directory or generate a code, which the student enters to gain access to the class. Microsoft Classroom does much the same.

Meetings can become Skype conference calls or FaceTime; work can continue without a hitch and without major upheaval.

As the local internet connectivity improves, it means that more work can move to online, documents can be easily accessed in a Cloud and networks will see fewer outages. What is essential though, is to ensure the network, devices connected and people using the devices, are tech-savvy and safety conscious enough to keep documents, files and protected.

Having strong passwords, security protocols for logging on and off to the company's servers, and having strong firewalls and virus protection in place across all devices will make telecommuting much safer.

The reasons for self-isolation and possible quarantine along with other restrictions which are being put in place, can and should be implemented in the long term as well. This includes international travel restrictions, less gatherings and fewer meetings.

We need to robustly and vigorously fight this virus while trying make life seem as normal as possible, especially for children. We are in this together and we can overcome this, but we have to be smart, stay calm and not lose sight of the day to day, which includes continuing to challenge children' minds and keeping our organisations going.

• Jan Coetzee is the owner and managing director of Headway Consulting.

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