What was once the exception has become the rule. Teleworking, or the concept of employees working from home or other locations rather than a central office, has become much more common as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 29 percent of American workers were able to work from home prior to the onset of COVID-19. Today, most employees have no other choice than to work from home to meet social distancing guidelines and reduce the spread of the virus. However, there is widespread concern regarding the online safety of teleworking compared to working in a traditional office environment.
Advantages of Having a Remote Workforce
The pandemic left many businesses struggling to set up employees with the tools they needed to work from home safely and effectively. However, once the kinks were worked out, many businesses found that employees could be focused and productive when not in the office. There are also many advantages of having a remote workforce for both employers and employees.
Increased Employee Productivity and Wellness
Busy offices can lead to frequent distractions and office politics often pull employees away from their work. Working from home can yield greater productivity as there are often fewer interruptions from coworkers. Add in the lack of commute and employees also experience less stress and anxiety each day.
Reduce the Risks of Overstaffing and Layoffs
Many businesses have found that maintaining a remote workforce also reduces the risks of overstaffing and layoffs. Having a flexible workforce is deemed as a scalable solution that helps businesses stay on -budget during both slow and busy times and avoid issues like layoffs and overstaffing.
Limit the Possibility of a Company-Wide Down Time
Unexpected events can force companies to completely shut down, resulting in extended periods of downtime that costs businesses a substantial sum. Businesses that maintain a remote workforce can help reduce the possibility of a company-wide outage caused by events like storms,natural disasters or a pandemic by allowing each employee to have individual access to a safe and secure online work platform.
Dangers Faced by Teleworking Organizations
Although having a remote workforce can be highly advantageous to modern businesses, teleworking does present certain risks. Businesses that work online must protect their data and infrastructure from hackers and other cybercriminals who may attempt to gain access to sensitive business information.
Personal Devices are Often More Vulnerable
Personal devices used by employees for work purposes, such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops, are often more susceptible to cybersecurity threats compared to devices in an office setting. Some employees’ devices may lack proper antivirus software or may not have a firewall enabled to monitor incoming and outgoing network traffic. If allowing employees to work from home, it is crucial to set policies for using personal devices and clearly explain to employees at all levels the importance of taking certain precautions.
Home Internet Connections May Be Unsecure
Employees who are not familiar with cybersecurity best practices may leave their home internet connection unsecure. An unsecure wireless connection is one that can be accessed without a password. Although unsecure connections are common in public places like cafes, leaving a connection unsecured allows other people to gain access to the connection and possibly use it with malicious intent. Having unauthorized users also uses extra bandwidth which can become costly if an employee’s ISP charges for bandwidth overages.
New Cyber Threats are Developed Every Day
There has been a noticeable increase in cybersecurity threats over the last year. Phishing scams have become one of the top causes of data breaches that occur when a hacker sends a deceptive email that contains malicious attachments or links. When an employee clicks on the seemingly legitimate link, the hacker is able to gain access to the employee’s device. Other cyber threats that plague businesses include malware, man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks, denial-of-service attacks, SQL injections, zero-day exploits and DNS tunneling.
Which Environment Presents More Risks?
Both teleworking and office environments present certain risks to employers and employees. When deciding whether to allow employees to work from a remote location, it is important to consider all aspects of that decision and make sure you have a strong security posture, including policies, training and incident response plan.
Although teleworking is not suitable for all businesses, it can prove highly valuable in certain situations.
Speak with the Cybersecurity Consultants at Hartman
The COVID-19 pandemic has made teleworking the ‘new normal.’ However, it is important to understand the very real risks that come from working remotely. To learn more about the cybersecurity risks associated with teleworking compared to traditional office environments, contact the cybersecurity consultants at Hartman Executive Advisors.