Before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations had already begun the shift toward telework. By offering this as an option to their employees, even as an occasional benefit, some companies were able to lay the groundwork for managing a remote workforce and ensuring business continuity outside of the traditional office environment. But even for those who had their remote work strategy in place, it was near impossible for anybody to fully prepare for what was to come.
According to Fortinet’s 2020 Remote Workforce Cybersecurity Report, approximately two-thirds of organizations surveyed needed to transition more than 50% of their workforces to telework due to the pandemic. While some adapted to this “new normal” fairly quickly, not everybody had the advantage of a smooth transition. Amid this shift, many faced new challenges in regards to secure connectivity, access to business-critical applications, and assurance of business continuity. Compound this with a lack of in-person communication, both structured and unstructured, and it is clear why many organizations have also struggled with maintaining motivation among employees during this time.
Although this could be taken with a grain of salt, these types of concerns will likely remain as 29% of organizations surveyed expect more than half of their employees to continue teleworking full-time after the pandemic.
As remote work continues to be the norm, organizations must implement certain strategies to keep their employees productive, secure, and engaged, especially for those who are not planning to re-enter the office environment any time soon, if at all. When it comes to effectively managing a remote workforce, organizations should consider the following.
For many employees, the shift to telework meant that they no longer had access to the tools they used daily, such as a desktop computer. While the use of personal devices has sufficed temporarily, the potential permanency of telework for some means that this is no longer good enough. Companies must equip employees with the technology they need to do their jobs effectively, specifically a laptop that houses essential applications and includes a pre-configured client to enable secure connectivity to their headquarters.
Additionally, because most employees now work in isolation, they also need technology that can act as a substitute for face-to-face communication with coworkers. This includes access to email, teleconferencing, internet, file sharing, function-specific capabilities (i.e. human resources), and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications in the cloud (i.e. Microsoft Office 365).
On top of providing employees with certain technologies, both hardware and software, it is critical that organizations protect their remote users with robust secure remote access strategies. This starts with understanding the different types of teleworkers and their roles within the organization.
With the right Secure Teleworker Solutions, like those offered by Fortinet, organizations can ensure continued connectivity, secure remote access, and best user experience for their remote employees at any level.
When working remotely, employees may miss out on the social interaction that they've become accustomed to within their traditional office environments. While this may not seem important, water cooler conversations, such as employees discussing their weekend plans, can have a significant impact on employee productivity.
One way that organizations can drive this sense of motivation is by encouraging employees to leave the room at the beginning or end of calls to interact on a personal level, not just a professional one. By prioritizing these informal discussions, teams may see not only a positive shift in attitudes but also a willingness to share new ideas that benefit the organization as a whole. This can also be achieved by reiterating the company’s mission to help employees tie their daily efforts to the overall picture.
Employee motivation can also have a significant impact on cybersecurity, as insider threats are often associated with careless or negligent users who make mistakes either because they are trying to save time or because they are not paying attention. Organizations can mitigate this risk by offering internal mentorships that are designed to keep employees engaged, helping to improve productivity and keep employees aware of their impact.
Furthermore, virtual training opportunities that center on cybersecurity awareness and accountability can also play a critical role in helping employees understand the importance of cyber hygiene. Through Fortinet’s curriculum of free, self-paced cybersecurity training courses, for example, organizations can help their employees understand the threats they are facing and what they can do to avoid falling victim to cyberattacks.
When managing a remote workforce, organizations need to think outside the box, not only focusing on traditional measures of security and networking but also building excitement among employees. Because remote work will likely become a permanent fixture for most, organizations cannot afford to embrace a “business as usual” attitude, as this could negatively impact cybersecurity and business continuity in the long run.
Read more about how Fortinet customers are maintaining business continuity at scale with integrated and secure Fortinet Teleworker solutions.