Remote working is very much on the rise with employers and employees taking advantage of the tremendous upsides it offers.
From increased productivity, to striking the right work/life balance to providing the best environment for different employee demographics, remote working is here to stay.
Indeed, the TUC estimates that in the UK alone, 1.5 million people now work from home, up around 20 percent in the last decade.
While there are many benefits to remote working, it does present additional factors organisations need to consider, particularly when it comes to IT and security.
Here at BCN Group we champion home working and help our partners deploy the necessary processes, systems and tools to allow their employees to work remotely but securely.
These are the six key things to consider:
Employees that work remotely will still need to access data, systems and applications.
To ensure they do so securely, network and cloud access should require multi-factor authentication (your username and password, plus a passcode sent to a device known to them) while all data must be encrypted.
You should also think about who needs to access data, and what data they need to access in order to do their job when working from home.
It is also important to ensure all devices used by the employee are fully up to date with the latest software and firewall patches and can be managed, configured and audited whilst they are working remotely.
Quality of equipment:
From a practical perspective, businesses need to ensure remote workers have the necessary tools to be able to work from home in the first place.
This will likely include laptops and smartphones, but in some cases they may also need microphones, headsets and screens.
You should also consider health and safety factors; are employees hunched over their dining room table or are they sat at a desk with a proper office chair.
We have touched on this already, but it is one of the most important things take into account when it comes to remote working.
Employees will need to be able to access data and applications on your server or from the cloud in order to carry out their role, but what they need will vary from employee to employee.
We recommend only granting access to the tools and data the employee needs, and always ensure you have complete control over all data at all times.
This will help reduce exposure to cyber security attacks and data breaches.
Data loss prevention:
The most common cause of data loss is actually human error; lost devices, printed information left on a desk that is then accessed by unauthorised users and so on.
The best form of defence is to educate employees about how they can mitigate the risk of a cyber security attack and also what to do in the event one occurs.
It is also important to ensure that data is regularly backed-up and is also encrypted.
As an employer, you can take additional steps to take control over all of your data.
This includes being able to wipe devices remotely in the event they become lost or stolen, or additional data controls to monitor and track data to minimise the risk of loss.
One of the biggest challenges organisations face when employees work from home is monitoring their activity and productivity levels.
Thankfully there are a range of tools that can help in this regard, from task lists to seeing what documents have been opened and when.
You can also monitor when employees log in and out of their computers; remote working is all about flexibility, so employees may be online at different times throughout the day.
By keeping an eye on this, it is possible to check whether they have worked the hours required of them even if starting earlier or finishing later than standard office hours.
The key to successful remote working lies in ensuring that employees remain connected with their office-based collages; this usually requires tools to communicate with them.
The most common are email and instant messaging, but video calls and conferencing are also great at ensuring all employees – regardless of where they work from – are connected.
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