The COVID-19 pandemic brought about tremendous, unimaginable changes across the world. Lockdown, shelter-in-place orders, ban on gatherings for safety purposes and national and international travel restrictions meant the world, and businesses couldn’t function as they were doing in the pre-pandemic times. Tradeshows went online, meetings happened from the couch in the living room, company parties meant saying cheers and sharing a glass of wine over a Zoom call with your video turned on. The transition to this work-from-home (WFH) culture on such a large scale and at this level was unforeseen, but it has happened nevertheless. While initially there were talks of this transition being short-lived and people resuming ‘normal’ lives in a couple of weeks, now it is clear that this trend is here to stay. Organizations and employees alike are seeing the numerous benefits of working from home.
From the company perspective, three big benefits stand out: they include saving significantly on real estate expenses--with staff working from home they don’t have to spend as much on renting office space, an increase in productivity and a drop in absenteeism and employee turnover.
From the workforce perspective, a lot of people are happier working from home as it helps cut the travel time to work and also supports better work/life balance. There’s a lot of flexibility, which is appreciated by employees with children or elderly parents who require caregiving.
In light of these benefits for both parties, it is highly unlikely that we will ever go back to the traditional office setup. What is more likely to take shape is a mixed environment where employees are mostly operating remotely and perhaps stepping into the office once in a while for catch-up sessions. As homes expand to accommodate office space, traditional office spaces will shrink to include not much more than just a conference room for in-person meetings. While this makes perfect sense, there’s something here that you can’t ignore- Data security. WFH may keep your staff safe during the pandemic, but it may put your data at risk and jeopardize your data security *if* you don’t take the right precautions. Why? Because WFH often involves employees using their own devices for work purposes and that blurs a lot of boundaries. It also raises several questions from the data security perspective which makes it imperative that you have mechanisms in place to mitigate possible data loss, leaks, or misuse before you allow employees to use their own devices for work purposes.
In light of these challenges, it makes sense to sign up for a service level agreement with a managed services provider, an MSP who specializes in data security, recovery, backup and cybersecurity. They will help you put security mechanisms in place, prepare IT policies to define the boundaries and regulations when your staff is operating from home and also train your staff in IT best practices and to identify malware infiltration attempts.