Remote working is on the rise. Between 2005 to 2017, there was a 159% increase in people working from home.
In 2015, 3.9 million U.S. workers were working remotely. As of spring 2020, that number is was over 5 million — and, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, that number has risen hugely, with a number of businesses switching entirely to a remote workforce.
The good news is, employees are happier and more efficient when they’re permitted to work remotely. In fact, 80% of polled remote employees say they’re more productive when working from home.
Not sure if remote work is for your business?
Examine that even in the best of times:
- 76% prefer to be away from their office when they need to concentrate on a project.
- 23% of remote workers say they work longer hours than they would on-site.
- Those with highly complex jobs that require little interaction with stakeholders are more productive when remote than in an office.
- Companies that offer remote capabilities have 25% lower staff turnover than those that don’t.
- 86% of polled employees feel that working remotely greatly reduces stress.
Remote work really works. The problem now is, many companies have been forced to go remote with little to no preparation — which comes with a lot of it’s own challenges.
Let’s review the key steps any company should make to prepare themselves for remote work:
1. Set up Zyalin CloudGate
This is an absolute essential first step that allows your team to have secure remote access to company resources. Simply give your remote workforce each a Zyalin Internet Control mini router. This requires no IT assistance, as a non-technical person can install it by directly plugging into their existing router or connecting it via their home wifi. This works the same if they’re working from a hotel or even a café.
2. Set up access rules and security
From the CloudGate console you can manage all of your businesses end-point devices, including office and remote-workers. Very few, if any, team members need access to your entire company network. Make sure it’s configured so that everyone has access to the tools they need to do their job, and nothing more. This ensures that, in the event of a hack on a particular employee’s device, the attackers will have limited access too.
3. Require 2FA + certificates to access
Your team might be exceptional, but they are also human, and human error is a huge contributor to network breach. Require that all devices have the proper certificates to access your networks, and that all logins require at least two methods of authentication.
4. Establish a clear, concise security policy for remote work
This involves a few key points:
• Ideally, provide your remote team with company devices. That’s the most secure way to have remote employees. If that’s not possible, make sure your team knows that even if they’re working on a ‘personal’ device, they need to treat it like a work device for security purposes.
• Password strength. Make sure your team has strong, complicated, unique passwords for all their logins. Provide them with a password management tool if possible, which will help them safely store those logins.
• Make sure your team knows basic security policies: Never click on unknown links, be wary of phishing scams, only visit HTTPS sites, and never, ever share company data outside the security of your private network.
• Let your team know who to contact if they need security support or have questions. Whether that’s the IT team or another leader in charge of cybersecurity, open communication is essential for remote employees.
5. Make sure team communication is clear, accessible, and consistent
Here’s a few ways to do that:
• Find a good messaging tool to encourage natural communication. Slack or Mattermost, for example, provides a great place for organised communication.
• Establish consistent video meetings, so everyone knows what to expect and feels connected. Try to always have an agenda for each meeting.
• Encourage non-work communication, ‘coffee chat’ is one of the elements most missed by remote workers. It builds community, connection, and often a lot of work actually gets done in that time because of the healthy communication it builds. Don’t squelch it in a misguided desire for more productivity, good team connections breeds higher productivity!
6. Schedule 1:1’s with your team
This should be a space for you to check in with them and their productivity, as well as a space for them to talk about anything they’re having a hard time with. For many employees used to in-person work, it doesn’t come naturally to bring up any issues remotely, they’ll avoid the issue or ignore it until it ‘goes away.’ Scheduling in 1:1’s builds a space for them to raise red flags, ask questions, and generally feel supported rather than like they’re working in a silo.
7. Resist the urge to micromanage
Measure your team’s success in goals and projects, not in hours clocked. It’s very tempting for managers who are used to seeing their team at their desks every day to want to micromanage how their team works from home, but remember that this can actually lower productivity. With regular team meetings and 1 to 1’s, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to see how things are progressing, so don’t worry how they’re managing their time at home. Build trust and connection.
Everyone’s schedule is different now, that takes time to adjust; allow them that.
8. Establish an Incident Response Plan
A breach in network security, even with all these precautions in place, is usually a matter of when, not if.
What will your response be when that happens?
How are you monitoring your data?
Does your team know what to do if they’re worried their device is compromised?
Make sure you work out a plan with your IT team and communicate it clearly to your employees. Practice it. Know it inside an out. The ROI will be well worth it.