For those of us working in the higher education sector, this is a good time to pause and examine how prepared we are to keep our colleges and universities running and supportive of students, staff, and faculty in the event that campuses have to temporarily shut down due to a potential outbreak.
A recent Business Insider article reports a sudden uptick in usage of Zoom, the popular video conferencing software that allows users to meet remotely. Similarly, many of the articles I’m reading on the topic of preparing for a Covid-19 outbreak seem to focus on how students in on-ground classes can access course materials and stay on track, or how faculty can prepare to move their courses to an online format, or how staff can continue to communicate without all of the daily in-person meetings. However, it is also important to look at the systems that aren’t always as visible to the students and faculty but that are integral to keeping the institution functioning. So while I applaud my colleagues in higher education for preparing pedagogically and functionally, it is also imperative to make sure university IT teams and operational staff (everyone from Admissions to the Business Office) are prepared to work remotely. If your campus unexpectedly closes, can employees access the network while off campus? Do they each have a VPN set up and the appropriate technology and internet access if they are going to work from home?
At Millennium, we are also thinking about the impact Covid-19 might have. Several of us already work remotely and for those who are typically in the office every day, we are making sure they prepared to work from home should they need to so that we maintain business continuity. Of course, we are also thinking about our partner institutions across the globe and how we can support them by making sure our FAST applications continue operating at peak functionality whether our office and college campuses are open or closed. Fortunately, FAST is an ideal tool for university and college staff to continue using while working remotely. Our secure data system offers chat, email, and report/dashboard pinning functions will allow for both synchronous and asynchronous communication, and our text and email functions within FAST Student allow staff who need to communicate with students to continue to do so from within the application.
In closing, here are some resources to help your institution prepare for maintaining systems during campus closures—whether for Covid-19 or any other type of emergency.
Coronavirus: Effective strategies and tools for remote work during a pandemic
New to #WFH / Remote? Five Tips from a Veteran Telecommuter
World Health Organization: Getting your workplace ready for COVID-19
Center for Disease Control: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Summary
If you are a current client or are working at a college or university and would like to learn more about how Millennium’s FAST data solutions can support your team—whether on campus or off—contact us today for more information.