Many businesses have recently made the change to adopt remote and hybrid work models.
- With increased freedom and flexibility, employees can work from nearly anywhere. In a competitive job market, where the right talent can be hard to recruit and retain, this can be a game-changing benefit for employees seeking balance (and for companies seeking employees).
- Remote and hybrid work come with new considerations and significant challenges. When it comes to your technology in particular, the more people you have connecting to your organization’s network on different devices, the more risk you introduce to your business.
Many employees looking to fully leverage this benefit of flexibility may also inadvertently be introducing more risk to your company when it comes to working remotely while traveling.
Working Remotely While Traveling is Soaring in Popularity
While business travel has been a staple in many professional environments for years, now companies are also seeing more employees travel for pleasure while working.
Even amidst a pandemic, more professionals are traveling and still clocking into their remote jobs more often than you might think. Some countries even offer incentives to attract digital workers to visit for an extended stay, not to mention domestic travel down the road or across the country.
With the new flexibility companies are offering through remote and hybrid work, they may never even know that their remote employees are traveling the country or globe if their work continues to get done well and on time.
And while it all may seem to be of little consequence when it comes to deadlines and customer service, if your team members are working remotely while traveling, they may be introducing cyber risk to your organization without even knowing it.
No matter what your organization’s situation is, educating your team about cybersecurity is important. But it’s an even greater consideration if your team members are working remotely while traveling.
Here are a few ways to protect your organization, even when your team members are traveling while they work.
Train Your Team to Avoid Connecting to Public Wi-Fi.
Never use unsecured, public Wi-Fi to connect to a company’s network.
Wi-Fi is essential for most of today’s professionals, and public Wi-Fi is no doubt the most convenient and easy option to get up and running for your workday from a coffee shop or hotel. It’s also the least secure for the same reason: it’s open to anyone to access, which also means it makes your network incredibly susceptible to intruders.
Instead, if you know your individual team members are traveling while working remotely, encourage them to use personal hotspots—portable Wi-Fi access points. These personal hotspots are usually offered by mobile providers, which means that remote workers can access Wi-Fi through this device wherever their cell phone carrier has high-speed data service. And they’re far more secure because they aren’t open to everyone.
If your business already knows your team travels often, it’s best to pursue an even more popular option:
VPNs, or virtual private networks. VPNs allow remote workers to securely access the Internet, even through public Wi-Fi, with a layer of protection for your organization’s network.
Emphasize Physical Security.
Cybersecurity is a popular buzzword for businesses looking to fortify their technological defense mechanisms, but it may be worthless if you aren’t also prioritizing physical security of devices.
In an office setting, it’s easy to lock the doors to the building when you come and go, but if your team is working from home in different neighborhoods across the city or state, it’s harder to be sure that their computers and mobile devices are safe. It’s even harder when your people are moving across the globe.
Remind your employees about the importance of keeping tabs on their technology at all times and to guard their devices just like they would a valuable personal item. That includes not leaving a laptop unattended in a public place, like an airport, and not leaving it in plain view from the window of an unlocked car or building.
Consider Your Organization’s Device Policy.
Allowing team members to use their own devices to access your network can seem highly effective and beneficial, especially if your team is working remotely while traveling. It’s convenient for your employees, and it saves companies money if they don’t have to buy additional devices. But this approach can be tricky, and it can be dangerous if done remotely.
Allowing your team to use their own devices can be tragic if they get hacked or misplace crucial data, so the best approach is to provide your team members with company-owned devices for their work. This cost may be much smaller than the costs your organization would pay in remediation if a team member were to be hacked or lose precious data.
Providing devices allows your company to better control what hardware and software your employees are using, making it easier to keep your network secure.
If providing work devices isn’t an option for your business, at minimum, you’ll want to have a solid BYOD (bring your own device) policy that would include a list of approved devices, as well as expectations for your team. Your team’s personal devices should be loaded with malware protection, a VPN and other security solutions.
BYOD policies vary from business to business, and they can become complicated quickly, so it’s best to work with an IT services company or managed services provider to help you develop, apply and enforce one.
Employees Working Remotely While Traveling Isn’t Going Away. Learn More About Protecting Your Organization.
The future of technology can feel pretty uncertain. But what we do know is that remote and hybrid work isn’t going away anytime soon. And if that’s the case, we can probably say the same about employees working remotely while traveling.
Taking the three steps above are a start, but you may need to do more to fully protect your business. Contact a Warren Averett Technology Group advisor to learn more about the specific steps your business may need to take to be protected.