Giving workers access to data and applications from outside the office can provide a clear competitive advantage for your business. However, to realise these benefits, you need to develop a plan that details the risks, rewards and practical steps required to implement remote access.
This plan needs to address a range of questions, including (but not limited to): What job roles can benefit most from remote access? How can my business secure and control remote access to its data and applications? How can my business ensure that remote access provides the same opportunities for collaboration and productivity as in-office workers enjoy?
Even if you already allow employees to work remotely, it’s not too late to develop a plan to mitigate risks, optimise workflows and identify exactly how your business benefits.
The success of any strategy depends on having clearly defined goals that everyone can agree on. Therefore, the first step should be to review the rewards of remote access to your business, ideally in consultation with your employees. After all, they will be the ones using the new remote access and achieving these benefits will rely on how the team adopts the new processes, so everyone should be positively invested in the outcome.
Possible benefits for employees may include:
Possible benefits for businesses may include:
Demonstrating how these benefits align with broader business goals – such as improving the bottom line – may also help in gaining support for remote access from other members of your team.
Once the case for remote access is approved, you should address the security of the relevant technologies and develop clear policies to minimise risk.
This involves ruling out or applying very strict rules governing the use of relatively insecure networks, such as public Wi-Fi or hotel Ethernet connections. Workers who use these networks may expose business computers, smartphones and tablets – as well as the data accessed through them – to malicious individuals.
By contrast, security-aware and educated workers can use a virtual private network (VPN) for safe remote access. When selecting the VPN that best meets the needs of your business (and which workers the VPN should be made available to), you may apply criteria such as:
Another point to consider is how remote access can maintain or even improve productivity by enabling workers to collaborate effectively when out of the office. Cloud-based applications can deliver this capability to both fixed and mobile devices.
However, you need to be confident that the adopted applications meet the needs of all groups (workers, system administrators and senior management) affected by remote access. Some of the features to look for include:
These tips cover just some of the considerations when enabling remote access at your business. If you carefully plan and execute your remote access strategy, you are positioning your business to improve its people, performance and profits.
See what the remote workforce means for security.
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