What does the business landscape look like in a world where growing numbers of people are working from home? As the coronavirus continues to keep most of the world in quarantine, companies are having to come up with new ways of maintaining oversight of their data and employees with the dramatic shift to remote work. But is the remote work situation that has been thrust upon us just a function of a global pandemic? When this begins to resolve and subside, do we go back to how we worked just months ago? Or is the current malaise simply an unanticipated, natural disaster that illuminates workplace shifts that have been underway for decades and are now unstoppable?
To that end, the concept of “remote work” is now archaic and we need key changes in our understanding of organizational behaviors to catch up with the inevitable workplace shifts taking place. And new efforts need attention in the areas of management, security, and collaboration. A critical focus in these areas is beginning to suggest the answers are no longer obvious or optional. Organizations are in triage mode, but they need to alter their long-term thinking and strategies around remote work.
3 Enterprise Challenges of Remote Work
So, what is at the heart of the new normal? Content or assets? The digitization of everything is at the heart of remote work. Hence it needs to be organized, secured, and utilized.
Here is what we need to pay attention to (triage first):
The new order of things replaces an understanding of the term management to a more balanced view of disciplined oversight, coordination, and empowerment. Unfortunately, processes and systems have not caught up with the trends. In fact, many of the management techniques derived from the industrial era no longer apply, and we are now going through a period of reinvention.
As millions of workers are now stuck at home (and many begin to prefer it), how do you measure productivity? And how do you measure capital investments in technology if your definition is obscured by not knowing the intrinsic interactions between collaborative teams spread around the world?
It was much easier to measure the value of a worker when the output could be measured in terms of clocking in and out. But what does that look like when a worker is not showing up to a physical office? Are they truly clocked in at 9:00 a.m. working from home? Does it matter?
Oversight depends on a precisely defined mission, and the mission needs to be understood in order to coordinate expected outcomes (obvious even in the industrial era). But now this opens the genius of empowering knowledge workers to innovate and think through issues on the ground, so to speak, and in real-time (within a 24×7, coordinated learning curve).
By empowering team members to make micro decisions as issues emerge in a workflow, you are more able to minimize bottlenecks, inspire micro innovations not envisioned by the game plan, and transform a process. But only if the collaborative feedback loop AND learning curves derived from the process are well understood. Daily communications are critical to keep the process from hitting barriers. Time is everything.
Our definition of cybersecurity needs to shift too. It’s no longer just about protecting the organization from outside threats such as hackers, malware, ransomware, and phishing emails. I am pointing to security surrounding “insider threats” (authorized users within an organization’s defined security perimeter). This is becoming the greatest source of challenge on the cybersecurity threat spectrum, sourced from employees, contractors, partners, and perhaps customers accessing systems as well.
The numbers suggest that insider threats are exploding. For context, according to The Verizon 2020 Data Breach Investigations report, 30% of all breaches in 2019 were caused by insiders, with the average cost of an insider-related incident being around $513,000—and can cost a company up to $8.7 million a year. And remote work is fueling this trend. A new report found inside threats are “occurring at a much higher rate than just four months ago suggests a massive gap between how organizations have prepared their cybersecurity defenses and the reality of their efficacy.”
Many times, these insider incidents are not done maliciously, but accidentally. Workers (including contractors) are given access to files or sensitive data they shouldn’t have access to or carelessly handle that information without the company’s knowledge. Think sending the wrong file to the wrong person. There’s more malicious actions too, such as employees taking company documents and data to a new job, which 35% of employees admit to doing in a Tessian study. Many companies do not have systems in place to ensure employee access to data is being monitored in context to determine what is normal activity and what is suspicious.
There are tremendous amounts of efficiencies that come with remote work. Businesses employing distributed teams and systems can save on location costs, and long commutes could be reduced or eliminated.
Skype, Google Hangouts, Zoom and Microsoft Teams, are everywhere and essentially do the same thing: connect people – your employees, customers, partners and prospects – over video calls. But these tools do so much more than just allow video conferencing. You can chat, add attachments, links and more.
In the context of highly sensitive information being communicated with these collaboration tools, governance and information security has become tricky. Suddenly companies need to make sure that sensitive information isn’t being exposed to unauthorized parties or shared in a way that violates any regulations through these tools.
Remote work is here to stay
These issues will have long term effects if not addressed now. The benefits of remote work and digital collaboration far outweigh the threats. According to Gartner, 74% of companies plan to permanently shift to more remote work post COVID-19.
So, how can we continue to make remote work more efficient, secure, and productive? All three challenges—management, security, and collaboration—give insight into where security and IT need to be focused next to ensure a highly distributed workforce can collaborate productively and without inadvertently or deliberately putting your data at risk.
Learn about Reveille solutions to ensure your mission critical content applications are available and the content is secure to keep collaboration – no matter where it is – buzzing.