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Creating a Safe Hybrid/Remote Workspace

illustration of remote office worker at computer

A stunning 75% of the work from home (WFH) workforce that resulted from the pandemic is likely to become permanent, according to a paper by Arizona State and Virginia Commonwealth University, a trend that overall employees seem to welcome.

Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for hastily adopted IT infrastructures to expose vulnerabilities and lacks in security, and statistics show that hackers were quick to seize the opportunities presented. A new study by Alliance Virtual Offices found that remote workers are favored targets by cybercriminals, with a 238% rise in cyberattacks since the beginning of the pandemic. Security issues will only become more acute—and more exploitable—from here on out.

Whether you've set your remote employees up in a hybrid work model or working remotely full time, they need a designated work station and a solid IT protection plan to avoid leaving them vulnerable to security risks. Kevin Jackson, president of ABE, says, "Developing a stress-free, secure, work-from-home environment often means having the same or similar tools at home that we use when in the office.”

Best Practice for Keeping Company Security Safe

There are several steps you can implement to keep your WFH employees safe and secure, starting with a policy that remote workers carry out business activities only on company-owned equipment and software.

  • Security Protection: The company should provide all company-owned devices with up-to-date antivirus, device encryption, firewalls and VPN (SSL VPN, IPSec VPN, SD-WAN)
  • Email Encryption: Email is a gateway for potential threats, and email encryption is a must for distributed workforces. So is a strict email policy outlining what constitutes suspicious messages and how employees should handle them
  • Public Wi-Fi and Computers Policy: The company should provide a VPN that off-site employees will always use to access company servers, store company documents, etc.
  • Monitoring: IT pros need to play a central role in security when dealing with a remote workforce. Network monitoring should be on 24/7, and IT professionals should be emphatic about proposing necessary security protocols to keep the network safe

Equipment to Work Efficiently and Safely from the Home Office

Jackson recommends the following technology tools to improve your WFH environment:

  • Designated workspace with a reliable workstation: laptop or desktop such as Dell Latitude, Dell Precision
  • Consider the advantages of a monitor and external keyboard for the laptop
  • Protection Monitoring and Remediation with Sentinel One
  • Email and office apps + protection such as MS Advanced Threat Protection, Microsoft 365 E3 and E5
  • Phone system with unified communication that allows you to make and receive calls as if you were working in the office, such as UC-ONE or Teams. Even if you call from your cellphone or landline to the recipient, it will look as though you are calling from a company phone, keeping your private number private.
  • Video conference calling software such as UC-One, Teams, Zoom, GoTo Meeting
  • Screen sharing and Video Conferencing software, such as OneScreen

Equipment to Work Efficiently and Safely from the Home Office

Jackson recommends the following technology tools to improve your WFH environment:

  • Designated workspace with a reliable workstation: laptop or desktop such as Dell Latitude, Dell Precision
  • Desktop multifunction printer/scanner such as the small but powerful Konica Minolta bizhub C3320i or Canon imageRUNNER ADVANCE DX C257iF
  • Protection monitoring and remediation with Sentinel One
  • Email and office apps + protection such as MS Advanced Threat Protection, Microsoft 365 E3 and E5
  • Phone system with unified communication that allows you to make and receive calls as if you were working in the office, such as UC-ONE or Teams. Even if you call from your cellphone or landline to the recipient, it will look as though you are calling from a company phone, keeping your private number private.
  • Video conference calling software such as UC-One, Teams, Zoom, GoTo Meeting
  • Screen sharing and video conferencing software, such as OneScreen
  • Deskside paper shredder

When you opt in for a fully remote or hybrid workforce, maintaining a secure, efficient WFH environment is critical. Once the essential elements regarding security and equipment are decided upon, Jackson encourages employers to leave an open line of communication with remote employees regarding their needs. “Whether it be an ergonomic chair, noise cancelling headphones or headset, or a laptop stand, working with your employees to provide them with a secure workstation they can work efficiently and comfortably in will benefit everyone.”

Looking to enhance security for your remote team? Contact us for a free consultation.