A study by Redcentric revealed that 70% of office workers believe it’s important that businesses allow their employees to work remotely. While 30% feel their productivity increases when they work away from the office.
Improved productivity isn’t the only benefit of flexible working. People who work from anywhere experience:
- Increased job satisfaction – with increased freedom comes greater autonomy which leads to
higher levels of motivation
- Lower stress levels – oppressive office environments and tedious commutes can increase the physical symptoms of stress
Businesses also benefit from better staff retention and savings from reduced office space.
The jury is in: a work-from-anywhere culture is a trend worth adopting. But to do so, we need to enable our employees to work away from the office securely and efficiently. This is where specific IT solutions come in.
4.2 million UK adults regularly worked from home last year.
How to Make Flexible Working a Reality
Setting Up a VPN
When it comes to remote working, a VPN is golden. Short for Virtual Private Network, a VPN allows an employee to connect to your company’s private network over an unsecured network (such as a coffee shop’s public internet connection) without compromising security.
It’s secure because data is encrypted for confidentiality, meaning outsiders can’t see private business data through the wild web.
Can you do without a VPN? Not if you’re considering flexible working for your employees. Just as Sarah Connor needed weapons to protect herself against a Terminator, without a VPN, your business will be vulnerable to serious security threats.
The good news is that VPNs don’t cost the earth and are easy to set-up if you know what you’re doing. If not, enlist an IT specialist to help.
To note: a VPN doesn’t guarantee the safety of private information. For an added level of security, your remote workers should practice good password hygiene and shield confidential data from onlookers especially in busy public areas.
On the Move Mobile Use
Sometimes employees will work off their phone rather than their laptop or tablets, especially when they’re travelling.
San-iT solutions architect, Matthew Simmons, often works on his mobiles between meetings.
To ensure he can share and receive sensitive data securely, he tethers his mobile to a VPN protected device – using either WiFi, Bluetooth or a USB) for secure internet access.
As with laptops and tablets, Simmons stresses the importance of having a robust mobile device:
“Keep your mobile within 3 years of its release date to make sure it has access to the latest updates and software versions for security. Then pick a mobile that works best for you.
Recently, a colleague and I discussed the use of an iPad with an Apple keyboard as the director’s device of choice. But when we got down to full functionality, we realised the Surface Pro is better for enhanced security and enterprise mobility.”
Will your employees use their own devices or a company laptop when working away from the office?
If it’s the former, protecting their devices can be harder but it’s definitely possible. They’ll need relevant internet security software installed on their tablets or laptops. That includes an active firewall, antivirus and anti-spam software and email attachment scanning.
Seb Graham, commercial director at San-iT, agrees and also explains why having quality hardware is imperative:
“The usual security has to be up to scratch, so fully-updated anti-virus and anti-malware software is a must. But for it to be fully effective, the hardware has to be robust. It’s worth getting a decent bit of kit like a Surface Pro or Samsung Galaxy Book rather than cheap portable hardware.”
Which is why getting remote workers to use company laptops is often the smarter move. If you have the budget for it, you can ensure online security is maximised by controlling the devices used and the software installed.
VOIP Phone Systems
You might be concerned that employees working remotely won’t be able to answer or make calls using your business number.
Enter Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) phone systems. Rather than transmitting data through a traditional copper line, these telephony systems are cloud-based meaning data is transferred through the internet.
VOIP enables staff to stay connected to the office phone, no matter where they’re based. It’s a cost-effective, low-maintenance telephone solution that also has tremendous perks for businesses, as Dell recently revealed:
“Allowing US employees to telecommute has saved Dell $39.5 million (£29 million) and avoided an estimated 25 million kWh of energy and 13,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions since the fiscal year 2014.”[Text Wrapping Break]
The ‘F’ in Future is for Freedom
Adopting a ‘work anywhere’ culture is a brilliant next step if it’s right for your business.
Your employees will relish the freedom of flexible working, helping them maintain a better work-life balance for increased happiness and job satisfaction. While the business will benefit from increased productivity, cost savings and a higher level of staff retention.
Article supplied by SAN IT Stockport