Last updated at Thu, 30 Apr 2020 15:49:02 GMT

In the second session of our Remote Work Readiness Series, Rapid7’s own security and business experts shared their advice for staying healthy and secure in the time of COVID-19. Hear what we’ve learned in recent weeks about how to balance security and productivity, how to foster remote rapport, and what smart leaders consider when looking to their long-term, post-crisis strategy.

Make empathy a cultural cornerstone

When taking stock of the “new normal,” all of our leaders echo the importance of communication and authenticity. Many workers’ most immediate concerns reflect our period of fundamental insecurity: How can I protect my physical health and the health of my family? When all of this is over, will I still have a job?

Stress empathetic listening, and remember that building trust in uncertain times takes honesty. Refusing to sugarcoat difficult news demonstrates respect and resiliency, and managers report better outcomes when they remain up front about what they know and what they don’t know.

It’s important to remain sensitive to variations in your team’s unique situations. For instance, lockdown protocols vary by country, and international employees may be affected differently. Stay attuned to individual needs, particularly those who may be struggling or feeling low. Regular check-ins just to show you care prove foundational—it’s about letting people know you’re there—without judgement—and giving them space to talk and ask questions.

Find balance between security and productivity

Particularly in periods of crisis, it’s important to remember the big picture. Frame the mission of security teams as service-oriented—maximizing client value while mitigating risk and friction to their organization. This helps IT leaders keep safe work delivery and corporate asset security at the forefront, and forgo the “security for the sake of security” mindset.

In line with this, weigh risks against benefits, avoid overkill, and focus on what can be introduced behind the scenes. For example, consider nixing forced password rotations—once a best practice, but increasingly regarded as dated and ineffective—for less intrusive password audits, to zero in on vulnerabilities.

Still, a productivity hit in this climate is all but inevitable. A common refrain we hear is: “How do I make my work space workspace?” With employees’ nine-to-five hampered by limited space, shared Wi-Fi, and homeschooling, they must learn to negotiate boundaries between their private and professional lives.

For workers juggling additional childcare duties, try collaborating toward creative scheduling and other workarounds. For example, parents can find someone to cover for their busier morning hours, trading tasks when the kids go down for a nap.

But as our collective tolerance for embarrassing intrusions goes up—who hasn’t heard a dog bark in a Zoom meeting at this point?—an unexpected upside emerges: We see new sides of people’s lives. And as team members help each other navigate the chaos, they reinforce company culture overall.

Focus on the future

That’s not the only silver lining. When working at reduced capacity, companies must radically confront their priorities, being explicit about their business essentials. Equipped with this clarity, they’re better able to reprioritize, separating the genuinely important from the merely urgent. Whether in marketing, product delivery, or customer retention, we can capitalize on the chance to innovate.

Crisis also exposes hidden skill sets, giving some employees a chance to shine. Who is stepping up? Who are our new leaders? Scope Slack channels, watching for people who lean in and problem-solve. Paying attention now can help managers discover and develop emerging talents—and ultimately grow a stronger team.

Listen to the full webcast

Thanks to our leadership team for taking the time to chat and share the health and safety insights gleaned in unprecedented times. Listen to the full webcast and subscribe so you catch upcoming sessions of our Remote Work Readiness Series.