The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the culture of work for good. Companies had to adapt quickly to maintain business continuity by setting up remote digital workspaces and connected procedures for their employees. Two years after this rapid transition into hybrid working, companies are starting to see its benefits. The flexibility of hybrid or remote work has brought with it not only a new way of working but a reduced ecological footprint, cost savings on office leasing, and a more empowered, active workforce.
However, to transition to a workplace of the future, companies will need to make sure virtual collaboration and remote work security are set up properly. Check below for tips on how to make changes time and cost-effectively.
Remote work – A new way of communicating & collaborating
A study by McKinsey says 20 to 25 percent of the workforces in advanced economies could work from home between three and five days a week without losing productivity.
However, working remotely reduces opportunities for in-person collaboration and options for keeping IT assets (software and hardware) under control within the company's infrastructure and network. To overcome remote work communication challenges, employees must be empowered with the right tools, and companies will need to embrace new technologies with enhanced collaboration features.
What is the most effective way of collaborating remotely?
One of the key challenges employers and collaborating employees face in remote work is finding the right virtual teams technology, for example, to store, share and work on files while making sure that company data is kept private and under the company's control. While bring your own device (BYOD) models are becoming increasingly accepted, they can also pose a huge threat to cyber security, especially through uncontrolled software assets.
Throughout the pandemic, cybercriminals have been exploiting the weakest link in any security setup: the human factor, through a lack of security procedures deployed at home.
Enterprise cloud solutions can offer a shared and safer solution for effective virtual collaboration. Simultaneously, enterprise tools will help set up access controls, privilege settings, monitoring of changes made by employees, device management, and backing up/synchronization of company files and data. However, a major disadvantage of cloud services haunts in the background: all company data is entrusted to a third party.
Remote collaboration best practices
- Establish communication norms. Agree on a common platform to use, means of communicating, and collaborating for projects, tasks, or other subjects. Be consistent with tools in use and avoid tool bloat.
- Set 'Sprint' and 'Milestone' goals, so a sense of community to restore a sense of community and a common goal. Make sure the steps to reach it are clear to everyone. Break the big picture down into milestones in order to gain a sense of continuum.
- Set up face-to-face meetings. Encourage employees to turn on their webcams in daily 15-minute Huddles, for example. It's important to keep the personal touch.
- Create opportunities to collaborate. Studies show that in remote working situations, managers will have less role in a working team, and higher-level responsibilities will be delegated to employees to establish a sense of ownership. Also, it's imperative that members of your team are called out for their achievements.
How to maintain security when employees work remotely?
Cybersecurity will become an even greater concern for organizations. According to Cisco's "Future of Secure Remote Work Report." 82% of respondents felt that "cybersecurity is now extremely important or more important than before COVID-19."
Shifting toward this new working model will require new policies, processes, security measures to ensure cyber and information security. Companies should consolidate their efforts when allowing remote work and transitioning to the cloud, focusing on key factors:
Retain centralized control and visibility over all your company assets (devices, files, data). Restrict what your employees can use for collaboration (device and software), how they can access them, and what they can change there. Encrypt all your valuable data at the client-side and monitor all activities that change them. Perform remote workplace audits on a regular basis. And finally, train your employees regularly not only through awareness material but simulated security situations.
Information security risks tied to remote work
The main security risks of working from home are the false sense of safety for employees and limited employer control and visibility over valuable assets. A company's own IT infrastructure has a LAN (Local Area Network) periphery that in general utilizes sophisticated means to protect all inbound and outbound traffic. All IT assets are in the same space, making centralized control much easier to establish.
When teams work remotely, hundreds or even thousands of different workspaces are created in various locations around the world, and enforcing the same security requirements for everyone becomes a major headache. Educating employees about their individual responsibilities in connection with hardware, software, and process security is vital.
Tips for mitigating remote work security concerns while enhancing collaboration and communication between team members:
- Secure Collaborative workspaces for effective virtual collaboration
Roll out a centralized management interface, where you can set up and control various policies for different workgroups, privileges, access control, time limits, and retention periods for files in use. Also, create policies and limits for functions like sharing, devices in use. Monitor all changes to devices and files and provide reports for auditing. Tresorit's Admin center, for example, allows you to easily control and see who has access to what files. Create company-wide or role-based policies for file-sharing options or access devices. Finally, use the activity log to see how your team is using Tresorit. These tools increase transparency and help to make managing a remote team easier.
- Password hygiene and the use of password managers
Train your employees to use strong passwords by avoiding repeating numbers, sequences, or easy guesses. Enforce regulations through a secure password manager that helps create unique passwords for individual accounts, limiting the spread of a breach to multiple accounts.
- Educate employees about common phishing patterns
Phishing attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated and harmful, especially in work-from-home situations, where personal devices with fewer protections in place may be used for mailing. Make sure your employees not only receive regular training but have the opportunity to encounter simulated attacks. Check our Phishing attacks guidefor comprehensive best practices.
- Device security for a remote workforce
Limit the type and number of remote devices (mobile, tablet) that can access company data, especially devices used for personal means. Provide employees with a company mobile (if required) and other devices that have a device manager installed to limit what can be installed on them.
- Encrypt sensitive company data
The safest way to handle sensitive company data in the world of internet-based services is to encrypt all data before it leaves your device. Tresorit provides easy to use client-side end-to-end encryption with zero-knowledge authentication and ensures no third party can ever access your data or encryption keys, not even Tresorit
- Create company policies for secure file sharing
Team or even company-specific file-sharing policies ensure that all files and data are accounted for, labeled for their sensitivity (e.g., public, internal use only, sensitive), and a hierarchy is established in terms of who can access what and what they can do (view, change, share). Create a company handbook on remote work security policies, have everyone read it and sign it, create a newsletter where employees are informed of breaches and known security vulnerabilities.
- Activate multi-factor verification wherever possible
Multi-factor authentication requires two or more ways to authenticate a user during login. Only when all required information is entered correctly will the person gain access to any interface or content. Examples include entering a password and then receiving an authentication code via an app on another device, using a hardware key, or using a biometric scan.
- Keep family members away from work devices
Make sure there's a designated working area with a lockable door where you keep your company devices or ensure that these devices are locked away when not in use. Passwords should never be written down and stored in plain sight.
- Use a VPN or Zero-trust network
A remote access security policy is crucial for employees to understand what happens when they handle company data remotely. Establish a VPN or zero-trust network to safeguard company data being sent and received over an internet connection. Consider requiring multi-factor authentication to establish a connection with company servers. Stay up to date with all security updates and follow the news to learn of any breaches or vulnerabilities.
Securing the future of work is not a task to be taken lightly. Luckily, true end-to-end encryption with zero-knowledge solutions can help keep your company data secure, even in the cloud. Learn more about secure workspaces from Tresorit and start to secure your productivity.