The Best and Worst of Remote Work Trends

The modern worker expects to be able to negotiate to work remotely. In 2019, only 7% of US workers had the option to telework, a number that has obviously changed drastically since then. As the world begins to settle slightly from a tumultuous two years, employees and companies are weighing their options. Return to the office, stay remote, or fuse the two through a hybrid model.

Every organization is different. Companies must carefully consider a number of factors to make the best decision. Among the most important of these factors are productivity, flexibility, social needs, attack surface, and data security.

Productivity

Before March of 2020, productivity in Europe and the United states was stagnant, and at near modern-historic lows. This is why reports of increased productivity after beginning remote work is slightly startling. Between 41% and 90% of people reported being just as or more productive working from home.

While these levels vary based on the industry in question, there are indications that people who work from home are generally more productive, given some parameters. Industries that had implemented remote work before the pandemic were more likely to report higher productivity than organizations that had not started teleworking until March of 2020.

Some reports indicate that gaining remote work experience also helps employees’ efficiency as they master the skills needed for work outside the office. This means that remote workforces may get more efficient over time. Companies looking toward the future should consider whether their bottom line would benefit from offering remote work to employees who want it.

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Flexibility

Remote work is inherently flexible, as an employee can work from anywhere with internet. Not only can companies hire from a larger geographic area, but current employees can move freely. As long as there is adequate web connection, a remote workforce can function across town, county, and state lines with ease.

With this newfound flexibility, some 77% of respondents to a Ponemon survey stated they worked outside of their house at least some of the time. Slightly less than half of people who are “newly teleworking most of the time” say this work format gives them the ability to shift their hours away from a normal nine-to-five schedule. Of new remote workers who participated in a December 2020 study, 38% said it was easier to accommodate family responsibilities.

This ability to adapt the work schedule to meet obligations has offered employees a life less tethered to an office. Many employees have come to enjoy arranging their work schedules to accommodate other duties, controlling when and how they take their breaks, and saving time without a daily commute. Organizations should realize this, and weigh the potential benefits of a workforce that is given more choices and flexibility.

 

Isolation

One of the downsides of all this flexibility is the lack of social interaction between coworkers. A Pew Research study reports that 65% of remote employees who began teleworking during the pandemic feel less connected to their co-workers than when they worked from the office. It is worth noting that of employees who were working remotely before March of 2020, only 27% are experiencing this same lack of connection. However, it is unclear if this just is due to the time they have spent adapting to it. Those who would feel most comfortable teleworking may already have chosen jobs that allow them to do so.

In light of these numbers, organizations need to seriously consider how to foster an environment for employees who value remote work and collaborative social engagement. In many cases, implementing a hybrid system can be useful. This provides the flexibility of remote work as well as a common space to coordinate projects, work alongside coworkers, and participate in meetings. This is something many companies are considering, with one McKinsey study revealing that 15% of executives surveyed felt that at least 10% of their employees could work remotely 1-2 days a week.

Increased Attack Surface

Walking down the hall to drink coffee and clocking into work in pajamas may decrease stress for the regular employee. Unfortunately, it increases stress for the average IT worker, 65% of whom say it is easier to protect data when employees are working in a traditional office setting.

The rather abrupt shift to remote work has caused a few hiccups, especially in industries not previously suited for remote work, such as education and healthcare. Suddenly, communication was happening through hundreds of new devices across unfamiliar networks. This expansion is why 67% of of IT professionals and business managers surveyed in June of 2021 were concerned about sensitive data passing through servers outside of their control. Fifty percent reported that it was immensely difficult to prevent internal company data and resources from being accessed by third parties. When “the office” is online, organizations must prioritize securing their networks, endpoints, and proprietary data.

More than ever before, IT Security teams require a robust arsenal to defend sensitive information from outside threats and bad actors.

Securing Data

Remote work does not just expand the digital footprint of an organization. It also expands the risk of data falling into the wrong hands.

The cost of a stolen work laptop cannot be overlooked in a world where living rooms, local cafes, and Airbnbs have taken the place of the cubicle. Work computers are now much more exposed to the general public, and thus much easier to gain access to.

Companies need to update work devices with software that allows administrators to locate, lock, and wipe data from a remote location. Otherwise they run the risk of sensitive data being accessed by nefarious actors. Per a Ponemon Institute study, 64% of IT security managers are concerned that organizational information is being viewed on the screens of remote workers. Even if working solely from home, unauthorized users may have access to computers and information, as it is not common to lock up work equipment in private homes.

In this environment, it is important that companies take clear, operational steps to safeguard private data. This includes training employees on how to secure a home office, providing clear Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy guidance, and investing in software that allows the organization to quickly address security concerns. In the moments after a remote device has been compromised, it is critical to have a quick and effective way to prevent a data breach.

The prominence of remote work in recent years has changed the modern workforce for the foreseeable future. Companies would do well to take stock of how to best implement a remote or hybrid workforce going forward. By taking the proper steps now, companies can support their employees, increase their efficiency, and manage an increasingly complex digital world in a safe and beneficial way.

About DriveStrike

DriveStrike is a data security software that allows companies to remotely manage devices and servers to protect digital information. DriveStrike enables administrators to encrypt, locate, lock, and wipe devices from a user-friendly online console. Start your free trial today or reach out with any questions. Your security is our priority!

Start Your Free 30 Day Trial

Each day brings new data security challenges, so your organization needs simple and wide-reaching solutions to combat those challenges. DriveStrike is here to help you protect your most critical data with premium quality endpoint security. Start a free trial with DriveStrike today, and contact us if you need any assistance. Our team is always ready to answer your questions.