Organisations around the world already have employees who work remotely before the COVID-19 crisis hit. As more and more businesses move employees to remote working (where possible), home offices will become the norm. There are practical considerations when employees are working from a remote workplace, and ensuring they are safe, prepared and operational is the goal. In this article, we’ll look at a few of the essentials you’ll need in place to support remote workers.
Location flexibility is one of the perks of working remotely. But as telecommuting becomes more of standard practice, data security becomes more of a concern. From employees using unsecured Wi-Fi networks to workers carrying confidential papers with them to public locations, remote work has added additional levels of security considerations for companies and their data. To start, leaders should educate employees about data security and how everyone is responsible for protecting it. They also need to initiate certain practices and procedures that will strengthen data security within their businesses. Remote workers must also prioritize data security education and safe practices, and then commit to those measures. So what can companies and their remote workers do to protect their data? Here are six ways to get started.
6 ways to Keep Employer Data Secure When Working Remotely
1. Establish a Cybersecurity Policy
The first step in protecting company data is to make sure all employees know that data security is a priority. Believe it or not, some employees today might still not be aware that data security is something they should be concerned about, at both a personal and professional level.
2. Ensure all Internet Connections Are Secure
Using an unsecured Wi-Fi network is the most common way to expose your company to a data security breach. Everyone understands the need to get out of the house now and then as a remote worker, and the lure of your local coffee shop — with the comradery of other remote workers and your favourite hot beverage — can be the perfect break. The last thing you want to do is forbid employees from working where they feel most energized and motivated. In this case, the remote workers just need to be educated about how to make sure they can keep the company’s data secure.
3. Keep Passwords Strong and Varied — and Use a Password Manager
Password safety is another relatively easy way to protect your organization’s data. Many people joke about password safety, admitting they use the same password from device to device and program to program, but educating remote workers about password protection is key to securing your company’s data.
Offering password security training can be yet another step in cybersecurity training for employees. Start with the basics of how to keep passwords strong and why it’s so important to not use the same one over and over again.
4. Rely on Two-Factor Authentication
Many organizations are moving to two-factor authentication (2FA) for their data security management. This method confirms a user’s identity by first requiring a username and password, as well as another piece of information, whether it be an answer to a “secret question” or perhaps a PIN that was sent to their cell phone. Passwords can often be compromised or stolen, but with 2FA, the chances of someone also having the additional security question’s answer or a PIN is unlikely. This added layer in the security process can provide remote workers and their organizations the peace of mind they need in this digital age when passwords just aren’t enough anymore.
5. Use Encryption Software
Using encryption software is another way companies and their remote workers can protect themselves. If an employee’s device is stolen or lost, the information on that device can find its way into the wrong hands and expose the company to data breaches and vulnerabilities. Encryption software can protect company data by barring access from any unauthorized users of those devices. Additionally, businesses should be mindful that any programs used for chatting, email or applications should utilize end-to-end encryption. Popular programs like Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat, for instance, can easily encrypt files and documents that your remote workers use and share with co-workers.
6. Don’t Forget Firewalls, Antivirus Software and Anti-Malware
Require remote workers to have up-to-date firewalls, antivirus software and anti-malware on all their devices — including cell phones and tablets, in addition to their laptops. Companies might also want to consider having the ability to remotely wipe devices in case they are lost or stolen. Mobile device management platforms can perform most or all of these services, allowing remote workers to continue to use their own devices while ensuring the safety of company data.
What should be covered in your remote work policy? You should consult your business’s legal counsel before implementing any policy, but it should address the following issues:
- Work hours and schedule: How many hours are workers expected to work? Or will you focus on output instead of hours?
- Ongoing training and classes: Just because someone works remotely doesn’t mean they don’t expect the same considerations as other employees, including ongoing training and classes.
- Safe work environment: Remote workers are still your responsibility, and their health and safety still fall on the employer if they work remotely from home.
- Work holidays and closings: If the business is closed for local employees, do remote workers still have to work? Address this point in advance.
- Productivity and general practice: Remote workers are still required to be productive employees, and must follow the same guidelines as local employees.
- Employer Engagement activities: It is employer responsibility to engage in employees by refreshing their minds on engaging them on activities such as Yoga, Meditation and Team activities. This will ensure them creativity as well as will induce productivity in a great deal.
- Daily meetings and Scrum: This will team stands on what your goals are, such as helping teams and teams-of-teams host remote daily stand-ups, daily company all-calls, end of week demonstrations, celebrations, retrospectives, and planning multiple sessions
- Connectivity, Safe and Secure: It is employer responsibility to keep safe and secured connectivity so that employee is not prone to cyber hackers. VPN makes a great deal in these situations by providing safe and secured networks.