It is becoming increasingly common for company staff to work remotely, either because they have asked for the flexibility to, or the business requires it. According to the Office for National Statistics nearly 15% of the nation’s workforce are now working from home as part of their current role. A recent survey by the British Chamber of Commerce found 91% of businesses have at least one staff member working from home. Inspired by books such as Tim Feriss’ 4-hour work week, a generation of staff are asking to work remotely, the question you should be asking is ‘is this good for my business?’
As a business owner or senior management team, there are many reasons why you would consider allowing remote working amongst your team. Not only does it save on costs in relation to the office space and having a permanent desk but remote working has been shown to increase productivity by at least 20% with 90% of remote workers believing they get more done according to a survey by Forbes magazine. However, there are many considerations too.
What are these considerations? There are a number – physical (tangible), policy and standards, as well as possible tax implications.
Here are some of the main considerations from an IT perspective:
IT Equipment – Who will supply the laptop/PC and any mobile devices the remote worker will use? If the company, are these insured away from the office and can you be sure they are being looked after correctly? What security is in place, particularly if the remote worker is using their own equipment (BYOD)? What happens if devices crash, who will supply the back-up and how quickly? What is the cost of downtime of the remote worker?
Connectivity – the bedrock of anyone’s ability to work remotely is a reliable internet connection. Who is supplying this, the individual or the company? Who within your business will assess the quality of the broadband available to the prospective home-worker? If broadband is not suitable, can a 4G mobile network work? Again, who is responsible for the contract with the 4G provider?
Cyber Security – On your office network it is easier to manage security, no doubt with office firewalls in place, monitoring and antivirus installed across all networked office devices, etc. However, for remote workers – can you be sure their devices are safe? How do you ensure adequate firewalling is in place? How will users access corporate systems? E.g. secure VPN? Hosted Desktops? Packaged Applications? Lots to consider.
Internal Threats – We hope you don’t have to face a member of your team intentionally trying to hack your system and use data for criminal use, however, in the context of remote working , many internal threats can be accidental where a remote worker is unaware their device has been hacked or their device is lost or stolen. Remote workers are more likely to use mobile devices (laptops, tablets and phones), so the risk to the business, of loss of data/information, increases significantly. Therefore, systems (such as Mobile Device Management, 2FA) and policies need to be in place to mitigate these increased risks.
One of the best ways to ensure you can deliver the user experience your remote worker needs, whilst maintaining centralised security, is to use hosted desktops. In combination with desktop centralisation, you can add additional layers of security, e.g. not allowing copy/paste between hosted desktop session and local machine; implementing a multi-factor authentication service (or 2FA) where users need to input a code or click a button using a token or app on their phone, in addition to their username and password.
If you have questions around your IT and Cyber Security requirements for remote working, feel free to give us a call for a friendly chat, on 020 8099 1501.