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A Step-by-Step Guide to Protect and Enable Your Remote Workforce

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With more employees working from home today, it’s becoming harder to protect and enable a geographically distributed workforce. Remote work poses unique security challenges and risks that must be faced by employers. Also, companies must consider individual requirements of their employees workers, from enabling secure and fast Wi-Fi connection to ensuring employees feel engaged and motivated.

To help you mitigate security risks and enable your remote employees to work from the comfort of the homes, we’ve created this step-by-step guide. You’ll find the best remote workforce security practices and proactive measures you can take to keep your remote team engaged.

Step 1. Connect Your On-premises Infrastructure to Cloud

Cloud storage eliminates all data loss risks typically associated with local storage. Also, cloud storage is extremely reliable and safe in terms of data breaches and cyberattacks.

The benefits of cloud storage extend further beyond enhanced security. First off, cloud storage is generally more affordable, because cloud providers distribute the costs of their infrastructure and services across many clients. Also, cloud storage allows you to save more physical space and eliminates the need for hardware maintenance as much of your hardware won’t be necessary.

Another benefit of cloud storage is its mobility. Cloud storage enables us to work efficiently no matter the physical location.

Use cloud or web-based storage software that allows sharing and editing documents. Educate your employees on the benefits of cloud storage and develop guidelines for using cloud services.

Step 2. Review Which Software Your Remote Employees Need

After you’ve decided on your cloud storage policies, review which software your remote employees need to work productively from home. It’s easy to get lost in different types of software for remote work because there are just so many of them. Let us talk you through the most effective types of software your remote employees will need to stay productive.

Remote Desktop Software

The remote desktop software allows you to connect to a computer in another location for business purposes like file transfer, remote control, or desktop sharing. As a bonus, you can use remote desktop software for troubleshooting customer issues.

Group Chat Apps

When working remotely, you want to enable communication between your team members. That’s why you have to choose which team chat app to use unless you want to go all old school with using email for business communications.

Video Conferencing Software

When texting can’t fully replace the magic of human communication needed for productive work, video calls are certainly helpful. Video conferencing makes you feel like you’re in the same room with your co-workers and brings in the spirit of corporate culture essential to stay productive.

Screen recording tools

Sometimes, your employees will need to send screen recordings to each other. Choose screen recording tools that are super easy to use and offer extra features, like built-in annotations.

Additionally, ensure all of your employees have access to particular software they need to do their part of work effectively. Audit the software you use in the office and decide on how to provide easy access for remote employees.

Step 3. Set up Two-factor Authentication

Remote work requires extra security protection as there are more chances of security breaches and data leaks happening. Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a security method that requires users to provide a second piece of evidence (besides a password) before they can successfully log into the account.

Passwords are not sufficient enough to keep our data and accounts safe. Ultimately, 2FA is a second level of protection that helps prevent unauthorized access if the account information has been compromised.

Studies suggest that setting up multi-factor authentication can block over 99.9% of account compromise attacks. This means that two-factor authentication has the potential to bring the chance of stolen credentials within your organization to a minimum.

Step 4. Be Careful Allowing Your Employees to Use Their Personal Devices

Developing policies to address the use of personal devices for work-related purposes is the next step to protecting and enabling your remote workforce.

Experts claim that employees performing everyday work-related tasks on their personal devices present the highest cybersecurity risk. This risk increases dramatically when employers fail to establish policies on how to use personal devices for work-related purposes.

Besides developing and implementing policies and guidelines, you must figure out a way to recover data for departing employees. Let’s say one of your remote workers resigns or gets fired. What then happens to all the files a person has access to and stores on their laptop? Cloud-based storage is a part of the solution. Besides, you’ll have to establish a data recovery policy that works best for your business.

Step 5. Determine which endpoint protection your remote workers must use

After you’ve figured out the rules your remote employees should follow to do their work with the convenience of personal laptops, it’s time to determine the security policies they should follow.

The first thing you should do is identify which security software suits your remote workers must install on their personal devices. As a general security measure, all of your employees must enable the following software:

  • Firewall
  • Antivirus tools
  • Malware detection software
  • Cloud-based storage

Next, educate your employees on the best cybersecurity practices. You can use this list as a reference.

  • Educate your employees on the importance of creating strong passwords/passphrases or using 2FA for work and personal accounts.
  • Educate your remote workers about domain spoofing.
  • Educate your employees about phishing attacks and ways to prevent them.
  • Always use encrypted video conferencing and team chat apps.
  • Educate your remote workers on the importance of regularly installing software updates.

Step 6. Ensure Secure and Fast Wi-Fi

Did you know that 81% of chief information officers report their company experienced a Wi-Fi-related incident in the previous year? Using unsecured Wi-Fi networks increases the chances of security breaches, data leaks, and third-party control. That’s why the next step you should take is ensuring your remote employees have access to a fast and secure Wi-Fi connection.

The easiest solution is requiring your remote employees to use a virtual private network (VPN) when they work from home or, especially, from public spaces. VPN works by routing the device’s internet connection through a private server.

A VPN makes it impossible to track data as it technically comes from a VPN rather than a user’s computer. Remote workers’ connections, the, remain private and anonymous no matter the network you’re using.

You can use VPN to shield one’s browsing activity from cyberattacks, prevent data leaks, and enable safe data transfers.

Step 7. Develop a contingency plan for risk management

Developing a contingency plan is the final step to protecting and enabling your remote workforce. A contingency plan is a fundamental risk management tool as it foresees potential threats and guides remote employees in stressful situations.

For example, in case your remote workers lose their laptop with sensitive work-related information stored on it, a contingency plan is an absolute must. It should describe various situations and step-by-step instructions on how to handle them effectively.

Keeping Employees Motivated in the Work-From-Home Conditions

While many employees are encouraged to work from home at first, this excitement typically wears off over time. Oftentimes, deadlines, and commitments are not enough for motivating remote employees.

How do you keep them engaged and motivated? Experts from Ivory Research suggest that most of the methods you currently employ for your in-house employees can be used to inspire motivation among your remote workers. Here are some simple methods that can be used for keeping your employees engaged in the work-from-home conditions.

  • Recognize remote employees for great work and other contributions.
  • Make sure to clearly communicate tasks you’re expecting to be completed.
  • Give your remote employees access to project updates, mission statement, and company performance records.
  • Bring remote team members together regularly and emphasize the importance of culture within your company.
  • Provide remote workers with time management tools and resources.

The Bottom Line

Remote work doesn’t have to put the security of your organization at risk. Following these steps will help you protect your company from cybersecurity threats while enabling geographically distributed teams to work productively.

Here are the top takeaways.

  • Establishing clear and comprehensive policies is key to securing your remote workforce.
  • Make sure to provide your remote employees with clear guidelines on using their personal laptops for work without posing a threat to the company’s security.
  • Leverage remote collaboration technology, including video conferencing, cloud storage, and group chat apps to enable productive work.
  • Ensure all of your remote workers have access to a secure and fast Wi-Fi connection.
  • And finally, keep your employees engaged and motivated in the work-from-home conditions.

Image Credit: Pexels

The post A Step-by-Step Guide to Protect and Enable Your Remote Workforce appeared first on ReadWrite.

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Can Other Industries Replicate MyWorkChoice’s Manufacturing Overhaul?

Automation is often seen as manufacturers’ ticket to the future. Lately, however, it’s a new labor model that has been drawing jealous stares from other sectors.

Upending how manufacturers get work done are platforms like MyWorkChoice, an hourly workforce management platform. MyWorkChoice uses smart matching technology to build custom communities, onboarded according to each client’s specifications.

By letting workers choose their shifts, MyWorkChoice cuts manufacturers’ absenteeism rates from around 35 percent to just 3 percent. For plant output, managers’ stress levels, and company culture, that’s a night-and-day difference.

The question: Could MyWorkChoice’s model work for other industries? Maybe so — but only if they can fit two puzzle pieces that, frustratingly, never seem to go together: flexibility and dependability.

Engineered for Flexibility

For years, many white-collar workers have enjoyed the flexibility to work when and where they want. Until recently, however, blue-collar sectors like manufacturing have pigeonholed workers into 40-hour-per-week arrangements.

Understandably, blue-collar workers want those same freedoms. What broke the dam, according to MyWorkChoice CEO Tana Greene, is the coronavirus pandemic.

“The traditional staffing agency model is dead,� explains Greene. “Prior to the pandemic, flexibility was supporting both workers and companies who needed to scale their workforce at any given time; today it’s a critical piece of the puzzle to keep our supply chain moving and put healthy people to work.�

Instead of requiring a rigid schedule, MyWorkChoice lets the company’s regular workforce sign up for four-hour blocks on the days they choose. Many opt to work a full 40 hours per week, producing a dependable primary workforce.

Workers understand that MyWorkChoice isn’t just another day-labor app, nor is it a split-shift system. They stick with it because of its flexibility, enabling the companies they serve to build tenured hourly teams.

Could sectors outside of manufacturing make that model work? Sure, Greene says: MyWorkChoice has applied it to call centers, distribution centers, and more. But before they make the leap, they need to solve for the second part of the equation: dependability.

Solved with Scale

Shorter shifts are a big reason why MyWorkChoice delivers workers reliably. But there’s a second factor that, for industries looking to follow the manufacturing sector’s lead, may be more difficult to replicate: scale.

Largely because of the flexibility it offers workers, MyWorkChoice is the largest recruiter in most markets it operates in. That ensures it has the bench strength to make the model work, covering gaps in a company’s regular workforce. Access to a larger, scalable workforce creates a secondary line of defense while eliminating the need for overtime.

A larger labor pool, combined with shorter shifts, lets employers accommodate all sorts of life situations. The result is MyWorkChoice’s third talent stream: nontraditional workforce segments, such as seniors and college students, who wouldn’t otherwise look for manufacturing work.

Many of these MyWorkChoice workers have responsibilities outside the platform that would make it tough to work longer shifts. Its model makes tough-to-fill times less onerous. For example, the second shift is typically the most difficult to fill, but when flexible four-hour slots are made available, stay-at-home parents and second incomers flock to this shift, making it one of the most coveted on the platform.

In the industries MyWorkChoice operates in — manufacturing, call centers, and warehousing — that three-pronged approach proves flexibility works. In more niche ones, it may not.

Take surveying. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are fewer than 50,000 surveyors in the entire U.S. Because it’s a specialized field, no amount of flexibility could help employers build secondary and tertiary teams. In all but the largest of labor markets, there simply aren’t enough surveyors to go around.

Making Flexible Work Work

Plenty of industries struggle to fill open positions, despite the economic downturn. Plenty of workers in them want flexibility. So what can employers in other sectors do to marry the two?

One option is to transition hourly workers to an employer-of-record model. Because MyWorkChoice is the employer of record, it handles worker’s compensation, unemployment claims, and other back-office matters that employers otherwise have to deal with.

The other option is to bring new demographic groups into the fold. Look for ways to increase flexibility: If possible in your industry, consider making work-from-home options permanent. If not, perhaps you could give workers more choice over their hours.

The final ingredient? Client service. MyWorkChoice provides regional managers to its clients, ensuring that workers are happy, safe, and getting the job done.

Without someone on the ground who knows the rules, no amount of software can make workforce management a hands-off process in industries like manufacturing. Technology can make matches, but it takes a human being to make sure those matches actually work out.

Great client service exists in every industry, as do flexibility and reliable workforces. In manufacturing, what MyWorkChoice has done is put them together in a lasting, harmonious way. Whether that can be done in every industry, however, is a challenge waiting to be conquered.

The post Can Other Industries Replicate MyWorkChoice’s Manufacturing Overhaul? appeared first on ReadWrite.