There are many valid reasons and advantages to move away from the traditional office model and staff your company with a remote workforce. If you’re considering sending your employees home to work, there are things to consider. You can’t just lock the doors tomorrow morning and hold the afternoon meeting over Zoom.
In 2020, more than 4.3 million workers in the United States work from home every day, and more than 60 percent of workers report occasionally working from home. These numbers continue to grow as technology makes it easier to leave the classic office model behind. Perhaps, you welcomed the idea of moving to a completely remote workforce, or possibly, you had your reservations about the idea.
There’s a lot of information and safeguards to know and put in place before a remote workforce. We will start with a look at the benefits of moving your workforce out of the office and into their home offices.
Reasons and Benefits of a Remote Workforce
There are many benefits and reasons to allow employees to work for home. It can be a good business decision. Here are some things to consider in terms of creating a remote workforce:
Even if you continue to lease a small office space, you’ll save money from not requiring as much space as you currently do. You also won’t have the additional expense of utilities and the constant costs of office supplies. What really happens to all those paper clips? Also, you’ll no longer have the expense of office snacks and keeping coffee constantly brewing.
A remote workforce can actually increase productivity. Employees enjoy the flexibility of being able to work from home, and this makes them more productive. You might fear that being at home might split their attention with housework but that isn’t the case. Many companies have found increased productivity.
When your workforce works from home, you can attract the best talent anywhere in the United States or even the world. You’re no longer confined looking for people in your local area or paying someone to transfer to your area. You can hire someone across the country just as easily as someone from across town.
Fewer Distractions and Useless Meetings
When you work in an office, it’s easy to schedule a meeting that could almost as easily be handled over the phone or through email. It seems like there is always a meeting to attend or someone stopping by your desk to ask about something or to chit chat for a few minutes. Working from home means fewer distractions and higher productivity from your staff. When do need a meeting, you can always schedule a video conference for your remote workforce.
Potential for Data Breaches
While there are many benefits to creating a remote workforce, there are things you need to be careful of and guard against. The biggest of these is the possibility of a data breach from one of your employees’ home networks. Your employees probably don’t have all the same security measures in place that you do at your office and your office’s network.
Your average home computer is at risk for a data breach that affects up to 10,000 in 29.7 percent of households. This number goes up significantly when it’s a business computer. The information held by business computers are more comprehensive and extended to more people than a person’s personal computer, making it more valuable to hackers.
Your clients expect your company to protect their data at all times, They don’t differentiate between a breach at your office and one at your employee’s home. They just want their records protected at all times. However, hackers may find it easier to access a home computer, and this places your company’s data at higher risk when you move your workforce from the office to individual homes. Potential for data breaches is one of the disadvantages of moving towards a remote workforce.
Hardware to Protect Against Cyberattacks
There are products that you can purchase for your remote workforce to help protect them against a cyberattack. You might consider providing them with a “work” laptop. A laptop that your employees only use when working and only for work. This can help you keep track of the security software installed on the unit, and you can limit the number of people who have access to the unit.
You might also consider purchasing a router for your remote workforce to use when they are working. Your employee probably already has high-speed access and a router in their home. If you provide them with a second router, they can switch out their home router during working hours and allow only their computer access to the network it creates. This creates an extra layer of security when only your employee knows the passwords to access the network created by the router.
Ways Cyber Attackers Target at Remote Workforces
One of the easiest and most prevalent ways that cybercriminals attack employees working from home is through email. This is called phishing. When you work, you get a constant flow of emails from other employees, clients, and suppliers. You don’t automatically recognize each email address, especially if it’s someone you know but the address is off by a couple of letters.
Once you open a suspect email, you might begin downloading some sort of malware onto your computer and network. In many cases, you won’t even realize it’s happening unless you run a system check. In other cases, you’re asked to follow a link or provide certain information. If the request seems legitimate you may find yourself sharing sensitive material when you shouldn’t.
Remote Work Policy
Before making your remote workforce, you need to put a remote work policy in place. This policy should include things such as working hours, vacation time, sick time, and ways of dealing with cybersecurity. You might want to include a rule that all software updates must be done immediately, especially for software that deals with security. This will greatly improve the security of your remote workforce.
You can create a policy for routinely changing passwords and the strength of those passwords. You might even consider a two-factor identification system to protect data. It’s a good idea to limit who has access to certain data and outline who employees need to contact to get permission to access the data or who they need to check with before giving others access to certain data. The more you have in writing means the more your employees will understand the expectations and not try to determine the best course of action on their own.
Yearly Security Training
At least once a year, you need to do a little security training with your remote workforce. You can hold a training meeting at a specific site or handle the training through a video conference call. It’s a good idea to go over past threats and present new cyberattacks. You want them to understand what these attacks look like. Cybercriminals are always coming up with new ways to get valuable information, and you want your team to be able to recognize problems before they become serious.
This year training can include downloading and updating security software. You can discuss the importance of a password and have all employees change pertinent passwords during the meeting. It’s beneficial for your company and its records to train your employees in software and network security since they don’t have an information technology (IT) specialist hanging around their home.
Potential Financial Repercussions from a Cyberattack
One of the most immediate and obvious financial repercussions from a cyberattack is the loss of business. Customers don’t want to do business with firms that don’t protect their data and will take their business elsewhere. If the data breach is large enough, the cost of lost sales can become significant.
In 2019, the cost of data breaches due to cyberattacks was $3.92 million around the world. This reflects a five-year increase of 12 percent so the costs are only going up, making it essential to protect data at all costs. If you have a data breach, the financial costs don’t come all at once. You’ll be paying for this cyberattack for the next couple of years.
Preserving Customer Data
You need to keep a certain amount of data on your customers and patients. These can be types of payments and financial information. You may have a record of personal information, such as family members and lifestyle choices. You count on this information to work with your customer but it’s also essential that you protect it from falling into the wrong hands.
If you have older information that no longer matters, you need a way of purging your system. You want to keep a balance between the right information and too much info. You need to preserve your client’s information in such a way that it’s protected from a cyberattack.
At Shred Cube, we understand how important it is to keep your clients safe and protect yourself against data breaches. See how the Shred Cube is helping remote workers protect their valuable company data. Contact us today for more information on protection for your remote workforce.