Archive for the ‘Remote Working’ Category

  • What is Remote Working?

    Date: 2017.08.09 | Category: Remote Working | Response: 0

    With Amazon announcing in May it’s hiring 5000 part-time customer service employees to work from home and studies are published that suggest 93% of workers are more productive when working remotely, it’s hard to ignore the benefits of having a policy that doesn’t encourage remote working.

    Having said this, remote working is not something every business sees the value in adopting. Perhaps due to a lack of trust within the business, the nature of the work involved or the fact that some work places simply don’t have the technology required to facilitate working from home. Remote workers today, make up almost 14% (4 million) of the UK workforce, a number that is set to rise in the future.

    To help you decide whether working remotely is something your business can adopt, we explore what remote working is, the benefits, and what to consider.

    What is remote working and how can it benefit my business?

    A remote worker is someone who works outside of a traditional office. This can be from home, from a coffee shop or a co-working space.  Generally, this style of working would use a device with access to a secure VPN or, ideally, using a secure hosted desktop service protected with multi-factor authentication.

    There are a whole host of benefits an employer can gain from having employees that work remotely. To name a few:

    1. Talent – Through not having to be in the office, remote workers can be anywhere in the world. This opens up the talent pool and means there are a whole host of new candidates that are suitable for the job. With certain industries having such talent shortages, including financial services, this can play a critical factor when recruiting top talent.
    2. Expense – Remote workers cost less, you don’t have to cover the physical desk space or utility costs an office-based employee incurs. In addition to this, remote workers often use their own laptop and smartphones, subject to meeting company security policy.
    3. Productivity – It has been argued in the past that employees who work from home are more productive, work longer hours, use less sick time and quit less than those who work from the office on a regular basis. In one study from Vodafone where they asked 8,000 business professionals across small, medium and large-sized companies in 10 countries, 83% of companies reported an improvement in productivity.

    Three core areas to consider when implementing remote working

    Remote working, if properly prepared for, can be implemented with relative ease within a trading business. However, there are a number of different areas to consider when deciding to go ahead prior to launching remote working.

    1. Internal Communications – Communication changes vastly when working remotely, you can’t just turn to a colleague and ask their opinion. Regular calls, email updates and the use of Instant Messaging and task management software, can all help things run smoothly and keep remote colleagues up to date and help them to feel that they still belong to the business. Microsoft Skype for Business can also help with calls, remote presentations as well as instant messaging. Ensuring employees are made aware of the company policy, whereby you outline what is required from them, should be mandatory.
    2. IT – Will remote staff be using their own laptop, pc and/or smartphone? Who is responsible for upgrading and updating these devices? As they’ll be using an internet connection where they are based, is this fast enough or of sufficient quality to allow them to do their job? Do they need a backup service (e.g. 4G or similar)? Many people don’t have landlines these days – can they get a 4G signal at home, or good mobile coverage if that is needed?
    3. Data protection and security – How to access company data in a reliable but, more importantly, in a secure way? In a world where hackers are penetrating some of the world’s biggest institutions with seeming ease, the need for security and data protection is an absolute essential. There are many questions, such as, is their home internet connection safe? How do you manage firewall policies? How do you ensure that data cannot be accessed by flat-mates or family members using the home computer?

    Interested in finding more about remote working and how secureVirtual can help? Feel free to call 020 8099 1502 and speak with one of our friendly experts.

  • Should I Let My Staff Work Remotely?

    Date: 2017.05.02 | Category: Remote Working | Response: 0

    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 1502.