Many companies shifted abruptly to remote work earlier this year when COVID-19 hit. In fact, as we found in our recent State-of-the-Business Survey, 75% of respondents moved at least a portion of their work to be done virtually. However, only 44% plan to make that permanent.
It seems as though, while a completely remote work environment was a necessity for some companies in 2020, few plan to pursue it as a long-term solution. So, what happens in the meantime?
For many, the answer is a flexible work environment.
Why Flexible Work Environments?
Currently, many companies are choosing to transition back to the office gradually, and, as a result, some are offering flexible work—a blend of working remotely and working on a company’s premises—to their employees. Flexible work can encompass a number of work styles, from hoteling and shared office space to co-work arrangements or staggered hours.
Whatever flexible work options your organization may be offering, your technology must be ready to meet the needs of a mobile workforce.
There are certain considerations for an on-premise set-up, and there are certain considerations for a remote workforce, but what are the considerations your company should keep in mind when your team is going back and forth from home to the office?
Here, we’ve outlined the most important things to consider about your technology if you’re offering flexible work to your team.
Facilitate Convenience with the Cloud and SaaS
The benefits of the Cloud and SaaS (Software as a Service) applications are well known to IT professionals and are continuing to grow in popularity with businesses of all types and sizes. They allow reduced costs, decreased IT team involvement and heightened functions for both businesses and end-users.
For flexible work environments, however, they take on a new shine because they facilitate convenience. Due to the Internet being so readily available, connecting to the cloud is incredibly easy from nearly any location: home, the office or even on a plane. Servers, file shares and data are available to employees, regardless of where they are.
Similarly, when companies utilize SaaS applications, team members don’t need multiple copies of software. With a single login, they can access their spreadsheet, word processing or presentation documents from any computer, seamlessly switching between laptop and desktop.
Ensure Accessibility with the Right Devices for Your Team
In a flexible work environment, team members could move from home to work, from office to office or even from desk to desk constantly. Having a single cookie-cutter setup for devices and tools is no longer mandatory.
While some team members will be able to operate in a flexible environment with only a laptop, it may make sense to provide some employees with mobile devices (tablets or phones) or set up the right policies and security for a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) solution. The device setup for each team member will depend on the individual’s intensity of work and the need for mobility.
It’s also important to remember that keeping track of your team’s devices can quickly become complicated with flexible work arrangements, so you may need to evaluate your internal policies or processes concerning equipment management.
Enhance Your Network Security
Flexible work isn’t just about enabling your team to securely access servers and applications. It’s also about restricting access from those outside of your team.
Network security may already be incorporated into a business’s access controls while team members are in the office. However, once employees are able to work from any number of locations, the security of device-to-device communications, or device-to-server communications, should become a paramount concern.
It’s important that roaming team members have the same level of technical security when they’re working remotely as they do when they’re working at the office. Companies offering flexible work options should consider enhanced access management.
Passwords may no longer provide a high enough level of security when laptops and mobile devices are part of the equation. Two-factor authentication or biometric access for devices are two options to consider that can provide an additional level of security. VPNs can encrypt the messages sent from devices, and they can even help facilitate locational restrictions.
It’s important to evaluate your company’s office visitor policies as well. Without proper security, an intruder could easily pose as a flexible work employee and gain access to the building and company information with ease.
Learn More about Flexible Work Technology
The right technology environment for flexible work supports mobility, consistency and security. It requires critical tools to be available from anywhere, new ways to access important information, and innovative access and cybersecurity solutions.
Flexible work may be exactly the solution that many companies are looking for to bridge the gap between fully remote and full-time office work, and you can do it in a way that protects the company and its resources.
To learn more about how to enhance your company’s network setup, contact your Warren Averett Technology Group advisor, or ask a member of our team to reach out to you.