Remote working has become one of the most sought after benefits for employees in a broad spectrum of industries in the digital age. Government figures, which were analysed by the TUC last year, revealed the total number of individuals now working from home on a regular basis now stands at 4.2 million – and, as time progresses, this figure looks likely to increase further.
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The ability to work from home is also an increasingly important factor among individuals who are looking for a new job, and offering this benefit is just one of the ways modern businesses can compete for the best talent. Research carried out by digital marketing specialist I-COM recently revealed that 45 percent of professionals look for permission to work from home on a regular basis when searching for a new role, while only 20 percent of respondents were currently able to take advantage of remote working.
However, with the increased freedom presented by remote operation comes a lot of responsibility, and potentially a whole host of issues for the businesses that fail to consider the implications of offering remote working to members of staff. With the number of mobile office workers reaching new heights, and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies now the norm, organisations can no longer ignore the need to construct an infrastructure that goes beyond the four walls of the office.
Here, we put the spotlight on remote working and take a closer look at how businesses can ensure they do not leave themselves vulnerable to threats as their workforce becomes increasingly independent.
Improving efficiency with the right technology
Employees looking to enjoy the benefits of remote working are more productive and efficient if they have access to the right technology. Therefore, businesses should ensure they are using software that is compatible with mobile devices, so they can easily be taken on the road.
It may seem obvious to many businesses, but others have so far failed to catch on to the advantages offered by Google Apps – and in particular, Google Docs. By adopting the use of the search giant’s cloud-based office tool, co-workers can easily collaborate on work, edit and pick up on documents while at home or in any other location.
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The issue of security
Advancements in computing infrastructures have meant that remote employee security has become a challenge. Thanks to remote working, systems are often decentralised and diffused to create an environment where confidential data needs greater protection – the only issue is, it’s even more tricky to protect.
One of the key challenges businesses face in overcoming security threats presented by remote working is that they are tasked with managing a broad array of mismatched devices running different operating systems. However, it is not impossible. Businesses need to roll out efficient security strategies to protect themselves from outside threat with this new way of working.
Protecting every device is just one method that IT departments should use to protect the business as a whole. Often, malicious software that is designed to swipe data often infects a computer through an email or website. Therefore, to reduce the potential of such infections, it is important to utilise the best security software and appropriate practices. Similarly, utilising cloud the features of a cloud service provider can allow companies to maintain a high level of protection. Cloud service providers use data encryption technology while transmitting confidential information from remote locations to the company intranet.
Businesses should make use of a virtual private network to ensure that all internet traffic remains fully secure. A third-party VPN service will have all the necessary security patches installed, meaning firms are continuously monitored for any signs of malware.
Looking to the future
While the opportunities presented by remote working may cause some business owners to question whether office life could soon be a thing of the past, there are many arguments in favour of maintaining a more traditional approach to work. Yahoo is just one example of a brand that chose to go against the grain and ban remote working altogether back in 2014, stating that: “Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people and impromptu team meetings.”
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It is incredibly important that businesses in the 21st century are able to adapt, and remote working is just one way they can do so. Those companies offering remote working, and giving employees the chance to enjoy a healthier work/life balance, are likely to have a happier workforce. However, as technology becomes less of a barrier to ensuring members of staff still need to go into the office, it is essential that employers make sure they do not become a thing of the past.