The severity surrounding the pandemic is starting to wind down, as a majority of countries have now fully restarted their economies and are welcoming back international tourists after more than two years of stringent lockdowns and quarantine regulations.
While the pandemic has been a period of relentless frustration, in the workplace, the office dynamic has seen a diverse transformation with the advent of remote work and work-from-home contingency.
Now, after more than two years of working out of the office, companies are starting to change their tune, and it looks like remote work is here to stay.
Researchers from the affluent career portal, Ladders found that more than 25% of professional jobs will be fully remote by the end of 2022. These estimates are set to only increase well into the coming year, as employees now realize the benefits and flexibility that come with working from home.
While being out of the office means that employees have more flexibility in their schedule, it’s also proven to be somewhat beneficial for employers, as researchers at Stanford University found that employees who work remotely are more productive than their in-office counterparts.
Companies and their employees now value certain aspects of their job, and personal life a lot more than they did before the pandemic, including the ability to go on team workcations.
And while it seems as if a return-to-office date is still off the table - for now at least - employers are now starting to raise concerns regarding employee safety and data protection while working online.
The pandemic might have given way to a new way of working and communicating, but it’s also been a period littered with online security threats and cyber intimidation.
Lack of cybersecurity and unknown risks now pose a major threat to companies and their employees working across multiple computer tracking software, virtual workplace portals, public WiFi, and switching between multiple networks. There’s also been an uptick in how companies are able to manage risks associated with activity monitoring when it comes to their clients and how they’re able to reduce unnecessary risks and errors.
About two-thirds of IT professionals have confirmed companies that are not able to implement proper cybersecurity protocols, and properly educate employees on the risk of malicious online activity should be concerned over the sensitive company and employee data. Even more, 54% of IT professionals in a study by Openvpn found that remote workers have a higher risk of cyberthreat than traditional office workers.
Today the threat of online scams, ransomware, malware attacks, and phishing is more prevalent than ever before. And as more employees transition into remote work and the workplace becomes more digital, cyber threats will only become a frequent disruption in the virtual office.
Employers, alongside their remote workers, should now look towards improving their existing cyberinfrastructure, but also educate staff properly on security protocols. These and other practices, such as updating data and privacy policies, and managing remote risks better should now be a #1 priority for employers.
Here’s how employers can manage remote risks
Reinstate a Security Mindset
The pandemic proved to be a stressful period for a lot of people as factors such as family, security, health, and job security contributed to increased stress and anxiety.
While working from home might have also made things a bit more challenging for some, it’s during times like these that employees tend to ignore the importance of online and remote security.
Prioritizing the security mindset means that employers are reinstating what some may consider the obvious, but informing those about the importance of using proper anti-virus and online digital security software.
How to prioritize the security mindset:
- Refresh employees on the typical threats and malicious activity they may come across.
- Improve internal IT infrastructure and develop a strategy to help in case of a threat.
- Share informative information regarding cyber security and how employees can be safe.
- Ensure that employees are using updated computer security software.
- Allow employees to share critical issues that have been encountered throughout working remotely.
- Give employees time to assess their online security and digital footprint.
- Create a foolproof guide on how employees can improve their online security.
Update Security and Remote Working Policies
Employers might have disregarded, or perhaps completely missed updating online and digital policies during the rapid transition to the remote office.
While some employers didn't think much of updating their online security policies, others didn’t even have one, to begin with.
Being negligent could mean you as an employer are putting your staff, their personal information and data, and sensitive information regarding your business at risk.
Outdated policies are no longer a way of working online, and employers should take a stern look at what their protocols are in the event of a threat.
Employers who are unaware of their remote worker’s actions could open up major cracks within the company’s security strategy. The best way to combat a possible threat is to make sure employers undergo proper cybersecurity training.
Research shows that roughly 25% of employees receive some form of cybersecurity training at least once per year, while 32% undergo training at least twice per year. More alarming is the fact that only 8% of remote workers currently undergo or attend a cybersecurity program during their onboarding process.
If the recent cyberattacks against national government institutions have taught us anything, it’s that human error is still a company’s biggest threat when it comes to internal cyber security.
From clicking on suspicious links, or opening emails and unknown documents, human errors play a big part in the safety of any company and its employers.
Device and System Security
At some or other point, employers should be open to looking at a system security protocol that suits their business and online security needs.
Some employers tend to wave this off, thinking that a cybersecurity attack will never use their business or their staff as a ransom. Well, according to VentureBeat, at least 85% of companies and organizations experience at least one ransomware attack per year.
A leaked file or breach of privacy should be more than enough reason for an employer to consider developing and implementing a cybersecurity protocol that can help protect staff and sensitive company information.
Choose a software program based on your business needs, and better yet, make sure to take into consideration your employees’ take on the software as well. It’s a broad spectrum to cover, but it will at least ensure every person on the team is protected regardless of where they’re working from.
Remote work has been perhaps one of the most significant changes the workforce has made in decades. But while this has meant that companies and their employees can now adopt a more digital and virtual work environment, it’s also made it harder to secure data and information as employees are scattered across the country or globe.
Make sure that as a business, you have a cyber security strategy in place, and that data and remote working policies are updated to accommodate both business requirements and that of your employers.
As beneficial as it might be, the remote office can still pose cumbersome challenges, even as we’ve become more accustomed to working from the comfort and safety of our homes.