More than a year after the coronavirus pandemic forced many businesses to restrict in-office workers due to safety concerns, more than 50% of American workers continue to work remotely – even as wider availability of the vaccine and lessening government restrictions now allow businesses the option to re-open. So why are businesses remaining remote? People like working from home. And according to many studies, remote employees can be just as productive as ever – if not more so. As such, many employers have made the decision to continue to offer remote work as an option, if not a total, mandated shift.
Of course, operating with a distributed and/or remote workforce presents new challenges to business owners. Perhaps most importantly, working remotely means a stronger reliance on technology than ever before. With this reliance comes increased cyber-security risks, more complicated communication, and a greater need for highly specified IT assistance.
If your company is continuing to offer remote work as an option, or is shifting entirely to a work-from-home environment, here are our top 8 technology tips we recommend implementing for a safer, more effective, and more productive remote workforce.
If you’d like assistance implementing any of these changes, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team to set up a free, no-pressure consultation.
- Install a monitored antivirus system
The first step to securing your remote employees’ devices is engaging with a trusted partner to install a monitored antivirus system. This is different from downloading a standard antivirus software to a device. A monitored system means that a trained IT professional will be alerted every time the antivirus isn’t working, isn’t up to date, or there is an attempted breach – meaning, every time there is even potential for a breach, your company receives an alert and the device is locked until the risk is neutralized.
- Protect your passwords
Weak passwords continue to be one of the primary reasons behind security breaches. Conversely, a strong password protocol is one of the most effective defenses. Establish policies requiring the use of strong passwords and passphrases and mandate they be changed frequently. Consider implementing two-factor or multi-factor authorization for access to especially sensitive applications or data. If employees have a hard time keeping track of passwords, a quick and easy fix is to install a password manager like LastPass to their devices.
- Go paperless
The benefits of converting to paperless are plentiful. By creating a completely digital workplace, your team saves time and space, plus produces less waste. For companies with remote employees or distributed offices, an extra bonus is that it allows your team to become completely “location agnostic” – or not dependent on being in the same physical space in order to function at your most productive and effective levels.
- Increase email security
Business email accounts house our most sensitive and important company information. In addition to communication between employees, file sharing is often transmitted via email. When it comes to keeping your remote employees and data safe, email security should be one of your first priorities. In addition to setting a secure password and establishing two-factor authentication (as we mentioned earlier), require your employees to update their email passwords at least once every three months.
- Regularly update tools
One of the best habits your employees can get into is ensuring the operating systems and apps they use on their own devices to work remotely must be kept up to date. As a start, encourage them to enable automatic updates for both their devices and their software. Ongoing updates and maintenance of corporate-owned laptops, smartphones, and applications should be standard procedure.
- Educate employees
While it may come to some as a surprise, the single biggest risk when it comes to business data breeches is your employees. The best thing you can do to protect your company is to educate your employees on how to be more aware of common cybercrime tactics and phishing scams. There are plenty of online educational tools out there for teaching good technological hygiene to employees, but one of the most effective ways is to work with an agency you trust. That way, employees can ask questions, engage with an actual human (imagine!), and get personalized feedback on best practices.
- Use secure communication/collaboration/file-sharing tools, and be consistent with their usage
It’s vital for remote workplaces to implementing the right mix of enabling technologies for teams to collaborate. Start by understanding the core value of different workplace solutions. Some are great at facilitating real-time communication, some are better at tracking progress on projects, some at automating workflows and handoffs. Depending on their primary role, teams may prefer one solution over another because they are designed specifically for the way they are used to working. Where possible and within budgetary limits, give your teams a voice in selecting the best solutions for accomplishing their goals, but, to avoid silos, require that those platforms support API connections with your core business applications. For more on how to get started designing the right digital communication plan, see this article we wrote on the subject last year.
- Work with a remote IT specialist
Not all IT companies function the same. Most service providers are designed to support in-office employees, rather than distributed workforces. Make sure you interview IT providers prior to hiring them to assess whether or not their team is capable of handling a remote or distributed team. Supporting distributed workforces and location agnostic teams is one of our specialties at STEADfast IT. To speak with an expert for a free, no-pressure consultation, click here.
If you have questions or need assistance implementing any of these changes, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team to set up a free, no-pressure consultation.