The coronavirus pandemic has seen an exponential rise in the amount of people switching to remote work. Since mid-February, 88 percent of global organizations have encouraged or required their employees to work from home.
Before Covid-19, 1.7 million people in the UK worked from home, but due to lockdown restrictions, which has caused a seismic shift in working habits and methods, an estimated 20 million people have had to relocate to home offices. Moreover, in Ireland, an estimated 100,000 people have switched to remote work. Even in Japan, with its traditional corporate culture of “showing up to the office,” 18 percent of businesses have implemented a work from home policy.
As we transition into a new normal, it is likely that this sudden shift will change the behavior of business culture. As a result, the short-term changes caused by Covid-19 will lead to longer-term adoption. One thing remains clear, keeping remote workers connected, engaged and productive is vital to a business’s success.
1. The three C’s: Connect, Communicate and Collaborate with each other
When executed poorly, remote work can harm a company’s productivity, effectiveness and culture. With one of the most cited issues with working from home being the inability for spontaneous collaboration amongst colleagues, the danger of an ineffective workforce could lead to significant consequences in terms of operational inefficiencies, lost revenue and even reputational damage.
When ranked by type, adhoc brainstorm sessions were the number one most challenging meeting type for remote workers to participate in, while pre-planned collaboration meetings were the fourth most challenging.
As we transition into a new normal, we still need to weigh the benefits and the negatives of remote work. One being that it doesn’t easily allow employees to feel connected to each other or the company. It is therefore crucial for organizations to take the right steps and provide effective systems and processes to ensure their workforce feels empowered.
Maximizing technology goes beyond allowing remote workers to just communicate with each other. It encourages and fosters collaboration in a variety of ways:
- Virtual whiteboarding where workers can see, annotate and contribute to a master document together.
- Using a centralized digital workplace where remote employees can ask questions, share ideas, post helpful blogs and articles, and generally share information as if they were sitting next to each other.
- Storing and sharing documents and images in a cloud-hosted app, ensuring everybody has access, and nobody feels “left out” or “out of the loop.”
2. Staying secure during Covid-19
In the wake of large-scale global events, cybercriminals are among the first to attempt to sow discord, spread disinformation and seek financial gain. With the sudden surge of remote work, cybercriminals are using the pandemic to target people and companies.
In fact, coronavirus-related phishing email attacks have increased by 600 percent with Microsoft reporting that approximately 2 percent of all email spam is using Covid-19 related content to lure people in to click on malicious links.
At one point, the World Health Organization (WHO) tracked 2,000 Covid-themed websites online daily, many of which were malicious. Organizations like the WHO are also not the only ones at risk of being impersonated. Since January 2020, the number of Covid-19-related domains registered has increased significantly with over 1,400 domains registered over the past three months. While many of these are likely legitimate and dedicated to providing information on the virus and its spread, it is almost certain that a portion have been created with malicious intent.
To properly protect data and devices, the responsibility must be shared between the employer and employee.
- Work with your security teams to protect the health of your business-critical mobile operations. This includes closing data leak points and securing highly sensitive information and essential apps.
- The network security being used in your enterprise environment should extend to all remote locations for your corporately owned or managed devices.
- Protecting all devices (laptops, smartphones, tablets) and IoT endpoints, including printers.
- Enforcing multi-factor authentication (MFA) to boost mobile security in a work-at-home environment.
- The most common, and easily hacked password, is 123456. Use complex, hard-to-crack passwords and update them frequently.
- Install patches and updates when they become available on any device, whether it’s corporately owned or Bring Your Own Device (BYOD).
- Change your Wi-Fi settings and passwords to prevent unauthorized access to your home network.
- Be wary of suspicious-looking Covid-19 based websites, emails and apps. If it looks strange or feels odd, don’t click, open or download it.
There is one thing companies and remote workers can do together to stay secure during Covid-19: communicate with each other frequently.
Whether it’s the business sending safety tips to its at-home workforce, or employees asking questions or seeking guidance, ongoing communication is crucial.
3. A new normal: How to support your remote workers
The world is currently undergoing the biggest ever work-from-home experiment. Looking ahead, to when the crisis is over, many will point to their achievements whilst working remotely to argue that they should be allowed to continue working from home.
In fact, there is the suggestion that lockdown measures have changed how people want to live their lives in the long-term. Out of the UK adults now being forced to work from home, 53 percent have revealed they would like to work from home more after the crisis ends, and 31 percent of those unable to work from home say they are now more likely to seek a job that could allow them to work from home.
As the mobile workforce grows and stabilizes, so will the need for reliable and secure Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM). With many businesses being caught off-guard following the sudden shift to remote work, taking control of your mobile operations has never been more important.
An integrated mobility strategy enables businesses to manage and control their mobile devices, instantly diagnose and troubleshoot device issues, gain detailed insights into the performance of their mobile deployments, and even take control of their IoT initiatives. As a result, remote workers are kept engaged, productive, connected and secure through Covid-19 and beyond.
Stefan Spendrup, VP Enterprise Mobility, Northern and Western Europe, SOTI