A lot has been said and written about the benefits of transitioning to remote work since the pandemic made it impossible for many organizations to operate from a single, physical location. Whether enthusiastically or begrudgingly, many employees have made the shift, but their satisfaction with the new way of working has been mixed.
Why? Because it turns out that remote working isn’t as simple as dusting off an old laptop, putting on a Zoom tuxedo, and joining a virtual meeting from time to time. In reality, remote workers must overcome many challenging hurdles if they want to be productive, secure, and, above all else, satisfied.
1. Not Keeping a Clearly Defined Schedule
The idea of waking up after the sun has risen, doing some work, and then going out for a refreshing jog or a relaxing stroll may sound exciting, but not keeping a clearly defined work schedule can easily shatter anyone’s work-life balance.
In the office, everyone’s workday begins and ends more or less at the same time. In the home office, some people are already glued to their monitors while it’s still dark outside, while others release their inner night-owl and don’t even consider booting up their work devices before the sun starts going down.
As a result, emails, messages, and sometimes even phone calls never stop coming. The relentless stream of work-related notifications then negatively impacts the work-life balance of even the most dedicated employees, which is when productivity begins to drop. Take a look at one of our past blog articles on the dangers of multi-tasking, which is only one of the lurking dangers when you’re not committed to an organized schedule.
2. Not Using Dedicated Work Devices
We get that the transition to remote work can be expensive, but some expenses are worth it. Sharing the same laptop with a spouse who works for a different company or kids attending online school introduces a whole can of worms of cybersecurity risks, including data and credential leakage.
Whenever employees are expected to work from their homes for a longer period of time, they should be provided with work devices to help them separate their personal lives from their work lives. It should be required to exclusively use them when working on sensitive business documents or connecting to internal systems.
Employees should also avoid using their personal cloud services, such as Google Drive, Dropbox, or iCloud, for work-related purposes. Cyberattacks on personal cloud services have increased significantly since January 2020, particularly because they tend to be less secure than their enterprise counterparts.
3. Not Being Readily Available to Coworkers
One of the biggest advantages of remote work is the opportunity to create a comfortable home office free of distracting office chatter. However, remote employees sometimes tune out their coworkers so much that they disappear from their radar for long stretches of time.
Helen Keller famously said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” Since communication is the essence of teamwork, remote employees must strive to make themselves available as much as possible and understand that simply completing tasks isn’t enough.
Employees should always have immediate access to reliable and instant communication tools that offer a range of interaction opportunities beyond email. Modes like instant messaging, group calling, and virtual meetings are important to handle issues that arise at various levels of priority. Even the ability to share memes and GIFs is important to increase morale and help employees strengthen relationships remotely.
When participating in online meetings, employees should avoid using the mute function and participate as much as possible to make each meeting count. Enabling the webcam can go a long way in fostering meaningful connections with coworkers since humans have evolved to understand not only spoken language but also non-verbal cues.
4. Not Protecting Data in Transit and at Rest
Since the pandemic disrupted established work routines and forced employees to work from their homes, cybercriminals have shifted their sights away from larger high-profile targets. Attacks against remote workers have grown significantly, highlighting the dangers of using an unsecured connection when exchanging sensitive information over a network.
To prevent unauthorized third parties from snooping on private emails, meetings, and documents, remote employees should protect their home internet connections using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service. A VPN creates an encrypted tunnel through which data can be securely sent even when connected to the internet via an unsafe network.
Even though most of the attention is given to online attacks, it’s important to know that real-life data breaches often happen because a thief spots an unguarded laptop or smartphone in a public place. Employees should always encrypt their devices to prevent access to private data when their devices get stolen or are lost. It may be annoying to enter a PIN or scan a thumbprint each time, but it’s far more annoying (more honest to say awful?) to be the reason for a major data breach that costs the company thousands of dollars.
5. Not Having a Backup Plan
Murphy’s law states that whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. Knowing that it’s only a matter of time before the toast hits the floor (marmalade-side-down), it’s important for remote employees to have a backup plan ready.
Without a backup plan, even the smallest inconvenience, such as a short power or internet outage, can result in an entire day of lost work, and that’s simply not acceptable when working from home long-term.
For the same reasons, it’s critical to back up all important data to at least two different destinations (with one located off-site). That way, even a critical hard drive failure won’t result in the loss of hours, days, and possibly even weeks’ worth of work.
Ensure Remote Work Success
Remote working arrangements can be mutually beneficial for employees and employers alike, but not unless steps are taken to avoid these major remote work mistakes. If you’re not sure if these considerations have been scrutinized for your remote (or hybrid-remote) employees, it’s important to talk to a cybersecurity expert as soon as possible.
At Help Desk Cavalry, we support organizations with remote and in-office workforces by providing them with the technology they need to be productive, secure, and successful. With our complete advanced cybersecurity solutions, it doesn’t take long to ensure that every employee is as secure as technology can make them. Contact us today for more information on how we can help you thrive while getting things done remotely.