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Although many businesses have contingency plans for power outages, natural disasters and other circumstances, very few expected to rely on those plans during a worldwide pandemic. As COVID-19 illnesses mount, Chicago-area companies are telling employees to work remotely, but preparing an entire workforce to work remotely will require extra effort. Companies including JPMorgan Chase, Morningstar and Chicago-based data and analytics startup Arity have tested or plan to test their systems by having employees work from home for a day. They need to determine if they have the right cybersecurity measures in place, if employees have the right equipment at home and they must test the capabilities of their servers to ensure employees can access what they need remotely. Andromeda, which provides information technology services to its clients, is working with Chicago-area companies, setting employees up with a virtual private network, forwarding mail and routing office calls to mobile phones. If company internet connections are not reliable enough to handle the increase in data transfers for remote employees, companies may need to speak with their providers to increase bandwidth. Some companies are offering to pay to upgrade employees’ home internet package if it’s not fast enough, and others are increasing their plans with video conferencing service Zoom to handle additional usage. If employees are using personal devices, companies need to make sure those devices are secure and that all smartphones have strong passwords, are up to date and have security patches in place.

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