Remote work certainly has its advantages. From saving time on commuting to hiring qualified talent from anywhere, it offers businesses a wide variety of tangible benefits. Removing the four walls of an office, though, presents unique challenges to both employers and their employees!
Without the advantages of in-person meetings and hands-on IT, businesses are challenged to not only replicate team collaboration online – but to keep company data secure while doing so. Security and productivity are two major challenges of remote work, and IT needs a plan to address both if they want to keep the business running smoothly while employees are remote.
Keep employees focused and informed
Just like the office, opportunities for distraction abound in a remote work environment. If employees are at home, they may be interrupted by family members or roommates, distracted by personal errands, or splitting their attention between work and social media.
If they’re on the road, they may struggle with a poor Internet connection, changes in time zones, or lack of access to a quiet place to work. And of course, collaborating remotely requires regular communication, set expectations, and the ability to quickly share and access information needed to complete tasks and projects.
Given the above challenges and needs, IT must facilitate ways for employees to meet, share, and collaborate so they can be more productive. A productive remote work environment may include software for:
- Virtual meetings, phone and web conferencing
- Remote desktop for IT support
- Company chat or messaging
- Cloud storage
- Credential sharing
- Project management
Of course, needs may vary slightly depending on the industry and the number of employees. Facilitating remote work boils down to having reliable, easy-to-use tools that help employees keep in touch with each other, access what they need to do their jobs, and stay on task throughout the day no matter where they are.
Layer in security without interrupting workflows
Many of the same cybersecurity concerns facing businesses in the office aren’t any different when employees are remote. However, new and different threats may need to be considered. When IT no longer has direct control over the software and hardware in use, other layers of security may need to be put in place to keep company data safe. Unsecured WiFi, mixing of personal and professional tasks on the same devices, access to technology from family members or even strangers in a co-working space; all of these and more can increase risks of data breach and data theft with remote workers.
To keep sensitive information safe, IT needs to focus on tools that strengthen protection behind-the-scenes and build security into everyday tasks. A secure remote work environment may include:
- A VPN for secure, private connections
- Multifactor authentication when accessing company resources
- Single sign-on to facilitate secure access for employees
- Password management to store credentials
- Antivirus and antimalware software
- Local and cloud encryption
Again, needs may vary depending on company size and industry. Taking basic security precautions while employees are working remote will minimize data breaches and theft.
Security and collaboration: Better together
IT teams need a plan to secure remote work activity and facilitate secure ways for employees to meet, share, and collaborate. Staying productive and keeping data secure don’t have to be at odds. With the right tools and policies in place, IT can build layers of security into everyday tasks while keeping employees focused on the work that matters. By equipping employees to collaborate and stay secure while working remote, businesses can better adapt to the challenges and opportunities ahead.