the 3 keys to a mobile workforce
1. Consistency in presentation
For remote workers to establish a common and productive work environment outside of the office, it’s crucial they have access to the same applications and toolsets that they would at a physical office. Businesses must ensure that the applications their remote workers need to access have been tested, and that they work well – in terms of functionality, speed and visual presentation – on whatever devices employees have. A requirement that is as true for applications with business and customer data as it is for utility applications like Microsoft Office.
This ubiquity is vital so that perspectives and communications between employees have a common context. All workers should be using the same applications and toolsets, whether it’s editing a document, adding to a database, or joining a conference call.
In today’s highly-competitive digital economy, the ability of technology to facilitate collaboration is critical to business innovation, success and growth. The ability to communicate and share ideas and content quickly and easily is vital to increasing the speed of execution. In 2020, collaboration has become even more critical due to the extraordinary circumstances that are transpiring. For business productivity and staff satisfaction, it’s important that every worker feels they are an equal participant in contributing to the business’s desired outcomes. There’s no place for an “us against them” culture between office-based and remote workers, collaboration exists to maximise the effectiveness of remote work. Your remote staff need the right devices at their disposal to proactively and seamlessly leverage effective communications and collaboration. There are a number of tools that enable this and video conferencing is perhaps the most important. It’s the best and most effective communications tool between team members, workers and managers, creating an environment for face to face communication regardless of where participants are located. Additionally, chat communications should be used when there is a sense of urgency required. Tools such as Skype for Business, and now Microsoft Teams permit teams to easily and quickly schedule video conferences, even inviting participants from Outlook contact lists. Part of effective collaboration, is the ability to edit, update and share documents, with management of the process such that only one person is in control of the document. Google Docs and SharePoint are examples of tools that enable management of primacy and revision history.
3. Security for remote work
Of course, we can’t discuss productive remote working without addressing the security implications. Today, there are over 350,000 new malware variants appearing every day, with zero-day attacks being 4x more deadly than their ‘known’ counterparts. There are somewhere in the region of 720,000,000 cyber-attacks every 24 hours. More than 50% of those attacks occur inside the firewall at the firmware level. Currently a trillion-dollar business, it’s executed not (just) by “script kiddies” but by nation states and hacktivists operating on an ideological basis that are always looking to exploit the environment around them – hence an up surge in online attacks in 2020 as these entities look to capitalise on the publics thirst for coronavirus news and information. Between the data centre, the cloud, and edge devices, there are 11 billion devices – far more devices than people on the planet. Each endpoint is a potential entry point for cyber-attacks. So, what should you be doing to protect remote workers, their devices and business critical data from a cyber-attack? It is vital to tightly manage and control devices.
- Enforcing a carefully curated corporate OS image
- Mandating timely OS and application updates
- Mandating timely applying of patches – particularly those related to security
- Preventing the installation of non-standard applications – but balance such a “lock down” of devices with some leeway for remote workers to install productivity apps such as mind mapping and note taking tools. Alternately, add these tools to the standard build if requested
- Provision and implementation of fingerprint recognition capabilities for laptops and other mobile devices
- Mandatory use of anti-virus and anti-malware software and following their update schedule
- Enforced use of complex passwords and monthly changes mandated
- Consider two-factor authentication for device logins
- The use of VPN with encryption for remote connectivity