Few of us then could have predicted the explosive rise in remote work — and there’s no going back. But despite the fanfare, your company will only reap its benefits by mastering remote work security best practices.
This article covers:
- Why remote working is a good thing for companies
- Tips and tricks that employers should consider
- Some recommendations for remote employees
Let’s get into them.
What are the benefits of remote working for businesses?
When it comes to remote work’s advantages, the hype is real. It’s also supported by data. So if you’re in the middle of hashing out more formal policies on the subject, but you’re not sold for one reason or another, the following five benefits of remote working for business should convince you.
You can look forward to more engaged workers
Does remote work really improve engagement?
Actually, yes. And don’t just take our word for it: Boffins at Stanford University spent two years asking the same question.
They discovered remote employees were 9% more engaged than their office counterparts. They were also found to be 13% more productive — and half as likely to quit.
The explanation is hardly rocket science. Remote work environments cut out distractions, which leads to greater efficiency. They also drive feelings of autonomy and stimulate morale.
You see less absenteeism
Remote workforces are less prone to absenteeism. Much of this boils down to a lack of commuting — a notorious pain for most workers.
Research shows that job satisfaction decreases with the amount of time spent traveling to and from work; and 20 minutes of commuting equates to a 19% pay cut.
You can expect to make (and save) more money
It goes without saying that on a regular basis, the more money you stand to save on operating costs. But the beauty of more engaged workers is that they get more work done…driving up profitability in the process.
You can hire from bigger talent pools
Here’s another no-brainer: hiring remotely widens your scope of skilled candidates. We all want an effective workforce.
When you cast off the shackles of a (physically) limited talent pool, the world is your oyster.
Once upon a time, you may have been restricted to hiring within your state, time-zone, or country. By definition, remote workforces unlock hundreds (if not thousands) of additional recruits.
You’re better positioned to retain that talent
Remote work policies don’t just broaden your talent pool. A less-than-certain economy has seen employees demand greater flexibility around where they can work.
The good news is that remote work policies drive employee loyalty. In one Owl Labs survey, remote workers were 13 percent more likely to stay in their job for the next five years!
What are the best remote work security tips for employers?
Google ‘remote work security tips’ as an employer and you’ll find an avalanche of (sometimes conflicting) advice.
Does a BYOD policy liberate workers or invite added security pressure? Should remote talent be responsible for choosing antivirus software or does the buck stop with you?
While context will dictate some decisions, certain WFH security best practices are universal. Let’s start with a fundamental one.
Invest in cyber hygiene training
Investing in software and hardware that facilitates good cyber hygiene is one thing. But security best practices for remote workers starts with learned behavior. We can’t stress this one enough: make a point of investing in cybersecurity training for your workforce. And if you’re unconvinced — look at the data.
According to Tessian’s research, remote employees are more likely to take more security risks when they work remotely. In the same study, four in 10 respondents admitted their behavior at home was more lax than at the office; and 50% attributed this to the fact that they weren’t being watched by IT teams. Shifting bad habits starts with awareness. Educate your employees on why more consistent security is key; teach them how to identify pitfalls and report them early, and they’ll be in a far stronger position to protect crucial data. (You’ll find plenty of external courses to help you.)
Migrate your business-critical applications to the cloud
If you’re still using a private server or on-premises data center to store business-critical apps and data, we’ve got news for you: migrating them to the cloud will make them more secure. The reason for this is simple. Central data storage offers stronger protection than local data centers. Public clouds follow a model of ‘shared responsibility.’ which means you’re responsible for your share, and they take care of the ugliest issues.
Cloud providers like Amazon offer ingrained security features not found with traditional setups. In a remote work context, there’s less scope for apps and data to be misused by employees. Even better, they can access the apps they need when devices fail.
Make encryption software the norm for all devices
Research firm Gartner estimates that a laptop (including those used for work) is stolen every 53 seconds. As a result, encryption software should be one of your first ports of call when protecting company data. Easy-to-use encryption tools like Microsoft’s Bitlocker require little technical expertise.
Provide your workers with an antivirus security suite
Hackers are no strangers to corporate environments. But as a general rule, it’s easier to exploit home environments. Even with effective cyber security awareness training, remote workers remain vulnerable to various attacks. From malware and spyware to trojans and phishing scams — it’s vital you arm your employees with decent antivirus software. Just as important: that software should be able to take care of existing and evolving threats.
Obvious (and less obvious) remote working security tips for employees
Following the above tips will go a long way to securing your company in the years ahead. But helping remote workers to help themselves is slightly different. We already mentioned the importance of cyber security awareness training. But some of the best security practices for working remotely are also some of the most basic. Here are three more recommendations:
Demand they use strong pins and passwords for their devices…
Password safety (or lack of it) is a well-worn cliche. However, it’s still a repeat offender for remote workers. Relying on the likes of ‘Password,’ ‘123456’ just isn’t acceptable. That’s especially true in the context of work-based devices. Enforcing a secure password policy ensures workers take the extra step to generate stronger, better protected alternatives.
…or ask them to use a password manager
Password managers are the logical next step. One of the best security practices for working from home, they shoulder the burden for workers by auto generating strong (and diverse) passwords. This makes it harder for hackers to breach work-based accounts.
Treat public Wi-Fi networks with caution
Certain security tips for working remotely go under the radar — and this is one of them. Ask your workers to be mindful when using wireless networks. Public Wi-Fi might be convenient. But if they’re using it in a coffee shop, without needing to create an account before logging in, it’s likely unsecured. Any data accessed in that situation risks exposure: from malicious hot spots, ‘man-in-the-middle’ attacks and more.
There you have it: seven fundamentals for securing your company’s remote work. Now you’ve scratched the surface, why not see how Cubeless makes it easy? Jump to our product page and see what we mean here.