The coronavirus holds no quarter for humans, with its merciless march punishing businesses worldwide. Desperate to flatten the COVID-19 curve, employees toil from home, straining remote work operations.\n\n\u201cPandemic\u201d may not have been on the CIO's contingency list, but the playbook for resiliency and business continuity stands. CIOs must respond to the challenge with both short-term and long-term actions to increase resilience and prepare for future profitable growth, says Nicholas Colisto, vice president and CIO of Avery Dennison Corp., a provider of adhesives, apparel tags and other branding solutions. \u201cUnexpected disruptions can impede companies\u2019 ability to deliver products and services to customers and impact revenue and customer satisfaction,\u201d Colisto tells CIO.com.\n\nRemarkably, the threat has galvanized IT teams, with many CIOs reporting more progress on their remote work efforts since the onset of the coronavirus than they'd made in months previously, according to Herb Schul, sectors and solutions leader for EY Americas Advisory Markets. IT teams are boosting bandwidth, provisioning servers and training staff to use remote technologies in weeks, rather than months it may have taken previously. \u201cNecessity and immediate need eliminate the typical barriers,\u201d Schul says. \u201cIt\u2019s been interesting to see the world adapt to working remotely so quickly.\u201d\n\nMost CIOs will know how to plan for contingencies, but comparing checklists to those of peers reaffirms that you\u2019re on the right path. Here, CIOs and researchers offer steps IT leaders should take to support their organizations in a time of crisis.\n\nShift spending to support remote work\n\nIn the short term, CIOs should shift spending to technologies that support remote work, such as laptops, desktop virtualization, and VPNs and multi-factor authentication to ensure secure access.\n\nOn that score, Autodesk CIO Prakash Kota offers best practices for keep employees humming along. Of particular importance are cloud, virtual access, remote onboarding and collaboration technologies. For example, Autodesk\u2019s HelpBot, a virtual assistant housed in Slack, answers frequently asked work-from-home questions, Kota says. \n\n\u201cWe saw a significant increase in the adoption of our productivity tools and we scaled in an agile fashion,\u201d Kota tells CIO.com. \u201cWe knew based on utilization data that we both had the licenses in place and the ability to scale for this scenario.\u201d\n\nPut crisis management on the front burner\n\nForm an IT crisis management team (ITCMT) and connect its members to global or even divisional business continuity teams.\n\n\u201cThis team should identify and coordinate activities designed to ensure continuity of business operations, such as identifying sites that are going remote and equipping employees with the technology and services they need to be productive,\u201d Colisto says. \u201cThe ITCMT should also create scenarios associated with the outbreak. Scenario planning with stakeholders is an important exercise as it can help offset unfavorable outcomes, and support the customers and communities that the company serves.\u201d \n\nMilind Wagle, CIO of Equinix, agrees, noting that his department has been actively involved in crisis management and discussing the \u201cart of the possible\u201d since the onset of the coronavirus in the U.S. \u201cNo one expected a crisis as big as this, but I\u2019m seeing natural leaders emerge in my entire organization, Wagle says.\n\nBuild an IT resiliency dashboard\n\nEmployees are depending on IT, so it\u2019s incumbent on IT leaders to create an IT Resiliency Dashboard to monitor the IT services they provide. Monitoring key metrics for storage, compute, application availability, desktop virtualization and VPN use can help IT know whether service level agreements are being met. The dashboard would also help IT identify and remediate any anomalies that may lead to a disruption in services.\n\nUse the crisis to boost customer engagement\n\nCompanies should ramp up their digital strategies by investing in customer engagement, self-service, digital workplace and knowledge management tools, Colisto says. Transparency about service and process changes are critical to maintaining customer satisfaction. \u201cCollectively, these tactics will improve business resilience and create a path to future profitable growth,\u201d Colisto says.\n\nCommunicate with your team\n\nEmployees\u2019 anxiety runs high, as 59 percent of workers are \u201cafraid of the spread of coronavirus,\u201d according to Forrester Research. And while staffing decisions will vary from company to company, compassion in communicating with employees is critical, Colisto says.\n\n\u201cWhen it comes to employees, now is the time to alleviate anxiety by actively communicating, showing empathy and gratitude, sharing details on how you are keeping the workplace safe, and providing work-from-home arrangements, flexible time off and sick leave,\u201d Colisto says.\n\nBe proactive about phishing scams\n\nScammers are initiating phishing attacks that lure users into clicking on malicious links and sharing confidential information. Snow Software\u2019s Alastair Pooley says that his company is repelling several coronavirus-themed phishing scams. The concern is that employees preoccupied with switching between chat and email may get tripped up and click on an email with a message payload.\n\n"It's a sad indictment on the criminals ... but I suppose that's why they\u2019re criminals," Pooley says.\n\nColisto says that IT leaders should work with internal communications to provide tips to employees on recognizing and avoiding phishing emails. \n\nReview the succession plan\n\nEveryone runs the risk of falling prey to the coronavirus. While this is not on par with an \u201cif I get hit by a bus tomorrow\u201d scenario, IT leaders should meet with their teams to review their succession plans and decide how they will handle scenarios in the case IT members become ill, Colisto says. \n\n\u201cI do think there are lessons to be learned here across the industries around creating more comprehensive business continuity plans and testing those plans more frequently,\u201d Colisto says.\n\nIt\u2019s also critical that CIOs not let COVID-19 stop them from pursuing their IT strategies in support of digital business growth, as CIO.com has reported. Despite the dark days, CIOs should bottle the speed with which they adapted to working remotely and use it to accelerate their transformation efforts, rather than seek to contain costs, says EY\u2019s Schul. \u201cWe believe you can\u2019t just hunker down in a time of crisis,\u201d he adds.