- January 14, 2021
- Catagory Security
It’s still open for debate as to whether remote work is here to stay for everyone, or if a year from now everyone will back in the office. Reality is probably somewhere in between, which means IT teams must find a balance between security and keeping employees productive.
In many ways, the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated trends already in play as better connectivity and cloud computing have made it easier for workforces to be more geographically distributed. Instead of corporate satellite offices with small teams, however, we have home-based offices of one.
IT teams need to assume that there will be at least a hybrid workforce for the foreseeable future and that security for remote work will continue to be a high priority. The trick is to keep the organization secure without impeding productivity.
Hybrid workforces work odd hours
The age of remote work is more than just applying security to more endpoints accessing the corporate network. IT teams need more management tools to support remote workers while extending support hours as employees embrace less traditional schedules to accommodate their home life. Digital workers are expected to embrace “time blocking” and “time slicing” to juggle all their commitments.
IT teams will need to bolster their own remote collaboration capabilities so members can work more efficiently with each other, but also with other departments, such as human resources to onboard new staff remotely. This includes provisioning new remote workers with corporate-issued equipment or configure their personal devices.
In addition to supporting remote work, we are likely to see a move toward “hoteling,” which is when employees book an on-site work site for a few hours or a day. These facilities must also be equipped and provisioned with connectivity and hardware, as well as maintained for cleanliness.
This hybrid workforce means IT teams must rethink how they deliver service to employees and view their relationship as partnership that supports productivity for everyone—this includes delivering a high-quality user experience that helps employees work better without compromising security.
Productivity should not compromise security
The trend toward more remote was always going to have security implications.
In the early days of the pandemic, the focus was getting employees productive at home. However, the price tag appears to have been a spike in malware incidents and other poor security behaviors. According to Wandera’s Cloud Security Report 2021, 52 per cent of organizations dealt with a malware incident in 2020 compared to 37 per cent in 2019.
The rise in incidents can be attributed to a more relaxed work environment for employees, who are likely using a single device for most of their online activities—personal and professional. Employees feel free to install whatever applications they want, whether it’s their device or one issued by the company. Adopting cloud-based and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications also impact security as lines of business spin up apps for their own uses without oversight by the IT department.
Keep security simple to enable employees
As much as remote work has created new threats for security, the solutions for IT teams aren’t all that different.
Regardless of they work, security awareness training for employees continues to be a key tool for defending against threat actors. IT teams must engage regularly with users to remind them of how they should log into applications, which applications are approved by the organization, and how they should report an incident if it occurs. Employees should understand they play a role in protecting the organization and its mission-critical business information.
If IT teams are work in partnership with users to balance remote work productivity and security, simpler is better so that any solutions implemented enable a pleasant user experience. This encourages users to follow protocols rather than bypass them because they’re seen as a barrier to getting their work done.
Sanjeev Spolia is CEO of Supra ITS
- November 16, 2020
- Catagory remote work
If you’re still struggling to optimize remote collaboration across your now virtual organization, you’re not alone. However, it does look like it’s the new normal for the foreseeable future, so you should prioritize finding ways to improve how your team works together remotely.
There are several ways you can improve remote collaboration. Some of them involve leverage technology, but many of them also involve managing people and understanding what they need to be successful to work from home.
- Focus on results, not hours on a timecard: If you’re used to measuring how productive people are by seeing bums in chairs, moving to remote collaboration has probably been difficult for you. Rather than measure productivity by how many hours employees are clocking, start measuring performance based on output. If the work is getting done, you’re already closer to optimizing remote collaboration.
- Create a buddy system: Some employees adapt to remote work better than others, and struggle because no longer have their peers to support them in the office. Consider pairing people up with someone else in a different department with relatively the same seniority so they have someone else as a sounding board to bounce ideas, concerns and frustrations off of, and ultimately find solutions via the pairing.
- Be mindful of meetings: Most meetings could have been an email, and remote work doesn’t change that. Having virtual ones might look like a way to replicate the camaraderie of the office, but meetings should still be focused and organized with a clear agenda and purpose. If there’s multiple people involved, have a facilitator to keep things on track and be sure everyone comes away clear on the next steps.
- Check in daily: While full-blown meetings should be few and far between, take advantage of remote collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams or Slack to let everyone know what you working on that day and your pressing priorities. This enables everyone to better understand everyone else’s pressures and even step up to help if they can. It’s also a good way to structure your day so you get what you need to get done without getting sidetracked, and it’s output focused.
- Streamline communications channels: More isn’t better, and like an overflowing email inbox, having too many alerts and notifications in a remote collaboration tool is counter productive. Let employees set boundaries around how connected they want to be while they work so the can be productive, but also set up a single channel everyone must subscribe to so they get the company-wide information they need on a daily basis.
- Get things done and be accountable: Whether it’s a next step agreed upon in a meeting or regulator best practices, it’s important to follow through on things. Keep track of commitments in a transparent way so everyone can take responsibility for what they agree to do.
- When in doubt, over-communicate: As much as we don’t want employees to be overwhelmed notifications, alerts and messages in remote collaboration tools, don’t assume your colleagues know what they need to now. Use your daily check in and the channels at your disposal to communicate everything you think might be valuable, as things can fall through the cracks when you don’t have daily, in-person interactions.
Full-time remote collaboration is new for most people, so at the end of the day you need to have empathy and remember that their home office environment may be different than yours. While it’s important to focus on getting things done and accountability, it’s also helpful to cut everyone a little slack during these stressful times.
- March 12, 2020
- Catagory remote working
One prescription for reducing the spread of the Coronavirus is to encourage remote working. But although working from home is par for the course for some people, many businesses and employees are used to filling chairs at the office.
Being productive at home and having the right tools to support remote workers can be a learning curve for everyone. The good news is that because many organizations already operate this anyway, there’s plenty of tools and best practices that can be adopted.
For employees, remote working not only requires the right tools, but also a change in mindset from what they’re used to. Working from home productively requires a routine, and not one size fits all. While there are many perks to working remotely, such as no longer having to spend time commuting on congested streets or on public transit, you need to continue to have work-like structure and schedule at home.
- Have a routine: Many prefer being in an office because of the inherent structure which can be hard to maintain if you’re new to remote working. But having a schedule when you’re working from home is essential. You should start your workday at the same time you would if you were going into the office. Be sure to finish work around the same time everyday and leave it until the next day.
- Dress appropriately: You wouldn’t wear your pajamas to the office, so it’s good practice to change into clothes while remote working to get you in the right frame of mind. You can still be comfortable, however, so jeans and a comfortable shirt is enough, much like casual Fridays at the office. The goal is to make sure you’re in work mode, not relaxation mode.
- Set aside office space: Most freelancers and seasoned remote workers set aside a dedicated work area. It doesn’t have to be a separate space with a door that closes, just a small set up in the corner of a room or even just a laptop at the end of a kitchen or dining table. While it may be tempting to work on the couch or even in your bed, it’s harder to get into work mode if you’re too comfortable. Ultimately, figure out what works best for you.
- Take breaks: Just as you’d want to get away from your desk at the office throughout the day, it’s important to have a change of scenery when remote working. Try not to eat in work area if possible and make a point of getting out of the house, even just to do an errand your neighborhood if you can. One of the perks of working from home is getting a few chores done during the day that normally you’d have to do in evening hours.
- Stay in touch: If you’re used to bantering with co-workers, remote working will be a bit of a shock if you’re suddenly doing it everyday after years of going into work. If possible, use communication tools to reach out to colleagues, even if to say good morning at the beginning of the day, and have meetings using video apps if possible.
Remote working can be very productive, but it requires the right mindset, especially if you’re not used to it. Even before the Coronavirus outbreak, telecommuting was on the rise, which means employees need to adapt and organizations must have the tools in place to support them—we’ll talk about those next time.