Remote work – risks, chances and opportunities.
Statistics don’t lie – remote work is here to stay and it doesn’t look like it’s going to change anytime soon – almost 91% of respondents said that remote work turned out to be a perfect fit for them, and 96% would recommend it to their friends. When asked “is there someone in your team that works remotely full-time”, 69% of respondents said yes. Let’s add an enormous amount of new remote jobs that are currently emerging and we have a full picture of the future job market – remote work is not just a temporary trend, it is a revolution in its full glory and the faster we learn to sail those new waters, the better.
And yet some companies not only avoid granting their employees a wider range of remote work opportunities, but they also withdraw from those already existing, just like BNY Mellon. Those companies believe that remote work simply doesn’t work for them and instead of the impressive new results that were promised, the only significant matter are the losses the company has suffered. When we compare those opinions with the overwhelmingly positive statistics concerning remote work’s effectiveness, the conclusion is clearly visible – remote work is effective only when correctly implemented. Therefore, a natural question appears – what are the possible threats and risks that wait for the unsuspecting company trying to become remote?
Inner mechanisms of the company
Very often (in 57% of cases) companies, even if they are doing their best to support the development of remote solutions, lack proper procedures and systemic solution. It is a very troubling topic, since switching to remote work requires a number of drastic changes in the company – it needs to be decided which positions can be fully remote, which can be partially remote, and which require the employee to stay in the office (a fully remote security guard doesn’t sound too reassuring). “One size fits all” is not going to work here. That is, of course, simply one of the many issues – each company needs a plan for remote supervision of the employees, stable communication within the remote team, IT security procedures and many, many more. To deal with all those tasks, each company needs a complex and well-conducted audit – but we will talk about that later.
Communication and management
Onsite work undoubtedly has its benefits – it allows an employee to contact other team members almost immediately, whereas the employer has a chance to supervise work and receive the results personally. While implementing remote work those possibilities are no longer available and team leaders are left with the need to use various forms of electronic communication – be it an email, phone or some kind of web communicator. And yes, it can be done with some preparations, but that’s the problem – many companies absolutely forget about any kind of preparations and once they become remote, their effectiveness is going downhill due to lack of all the necessary guidelines. Without a proper training, employees won’t be able to coordinate their actions as a team, and managers may find out that remote management is much more difficult than they previously thought. This may lead to some internal conflicts and delays, which in turn may end up in the entire company achieving much worse results than previously anticipated.
The ultimate solution to all those problems isproper training of both your team and managers. Employees need to be able to use the Internet to coordinate and communicate with each other, and managing staff needs to be prepared to supervise and motivate a team that is not in the office, but scattered all around the country, if not, the entire world.
Remote work cannot exist without the Internet – it allowed this new form of employment to flourish in the first place, but it is also a source of many potential threats. Without proper guidelines, a careless remote worker may endanger sensitive data and the wellbeing of the entire company.
First off – public WiFi. Sensitive data sitting on your employee’s laptop that is currently connected to the public WiFi is a beautifully presented gift for each potential hacker. One visit on a suspicious page, one little ransomware downloaded onto the computer and voilà – we have a problem. And that is just a single example of how an unsuspecting worker sitting at Starbucks may cost your company an arm and a leg.
Now the obvious thing is introducing a proper set of rules and limitations. It should be an absolute priority for a remote worker to keep his computer well protected – newest versions of firewalls, an antivirus software and a good, trustworthy cloud storage are some of the key factors in limiting the risk. If the company can afford it, it could be wise to offer its employees company computers to work on – with already installed cybersecurity measures and a strict policy concerning the events of losing or damaging either the data or the device itself.
But unfortunately, danger can come not only from the virtual world – even a simple thief may just yank the laptop out of the employee’s hands! Even a careless conversation on the phone in a public place may lead to our employees accidentally leaking some sensitive information about the company. Rules and limitations are the best and primary way of protecting our company’s sensitive data.
Step number one – an audit of the company
If you are already convinced about the whole remote work thing, your first step should be a good, thorough assessment of the entire company. It should focus on:
Dividing the jobs between completely remote, partially remote and completely stationary;
Inspecting all the internal matters within the company and the management style in order to create a sensible way of implementing remote work;
Assessing the data security level in the company – and we’re talking web security, firewalls, antiviruses, data transfers, data storages – you name it, it all has to be inspected;
Evaluating the corporate culture and creating an ample plan of implementing remote work into the said culture.
Every company is unique in its own way, and that’s the reason why copying the solutions implemented in one company may cause something completely different in another. In the best-case scenario, it may simply lead to wasting a company’s potential, in the worst case – to generating losses.
Huff and puff, behold the legal stuff
Now when beginning your journey with remote work, you must be aware of the changes that will occur from the legal point of view:
If you are an employer, you must be aware of the numerous legal systems in the world that will now become your concern – your team is now multinational and scattered all around the world, and you must be aware of that fact. I know that in any other situations learning Malaysia’s law codices would seem appropriate only when being reeeeeeaaally bored on the train, but here you are now – minimal wages are different, social securities are different, what is more – they differ not only between countries, but also between American states!
On the other hand, if you are more interested in hiring freelancers or becoming a freelancer yourself, you must be aware than most often than not, all the legal security measures concerning employment will no longer apply – no law will control your notice, minimal wage or anything else – your contract will be the deciding factor, and that is why you must take great care while creating and signing it.
What is on the horizon?
As you can see, it’s not only companies, but more often than not also a law that is completely unprepared for remote work. But that will have to change – the times are changing, new generations will be more and more skillful with using electronic devices and using Internet at work, and people will no longer want to sit in the office for 8 hours straight. In this case every reasonable employer should at least carefully consider switching to remote work – and sooner he does it, the better.