After what can only be described as a whirlwind of a year, we enter 2021 with a positive attitude and the hope to return to the new normal sooner rather than later.
Managing director, Gordon Christie, has shared his thoughts on hybrid working, how you can protect your business, and important things to consider to ensure your business thrives in 2021, despite where your team is working.
Understanding your employees’ needs
“Now more than ever, as leaders, we must understand the needs of our employees and how they may vary. It’s important that we address each situation on a case by case basis, and although a generic staff questionnaire will work to an extent, but team leaders need to talk to individuals and establish their situation. Too often people will go with the majority, not looking to cause disruption or to draw attention to themselves.
“This can cause unnecessary stress and have a negative impact on the quality of work produced by staff. By listening to your employees and understanding what they need, you can create a plan for flexible working.”
Buy cheap, spend twice
“In 2021 we will see an increase in hybrid working, or at least for the first half of the year, and people will split their time between work and their home office. In 2020, we focused on survival and dealing with the unknown. For most, we felt that working from home was short term and within a couple of months we’d go back to normal, so there was no need to invest in new equipment or update our IT systems.
“As we make the move back into the office part-time, it’s important that staff have the right set up in both locations. Although this may seem like an unnecessary expense when budgets are already tight, you have to think about productivity levels and the long term costs.
“If staff are used to working with two screens, but when they are working from home only have access to the one, how will this impact the speed in which they work? Or if someone doesn’t have access to a computer chair at home and develops back problems as a result. How will that impact your business? As well as impacting staff’s wellbeing and morale, it could also have a negative impact on the productivity and quality of work produced.
“Although a lot of companies have moved to Microsoft 365 and have embraced the benefits of teams, this does not work for all companies. As well as specialising in Microsoft 365, at IT Hotdesk, we offer a ‘remote control’ solution that allows for staff to connect via web browser and achieve a similar experience as they would when sitting in the office.
“As restrictions tightened again, the end of 2020 grudgingly saw a revival of the zoom quiz and virtual escape rooms. We’re all facing on-screen fatigue, and the more that life goes back to normal the less willing we are to use the technology. As leaders, it’s important that your staff understand the benefits of using an online video conferencing system to see your staff. Those sitting at home working are just as important as the ones in the office, therefore your team leaders must ensure that everyone is being incorporated into the meetings.
Security is key
“As tempting as it is to let staff move their desktops back into the office, and use their personal devices when working from home, it can cause you trouble in the long run.
“Sure in the beginning it will save you money, but staff logging onto the system remotely will open vulnerabilities in business systems, which can result in unexpected costs to your business. I appreciate that some companies cannot afford two sets of equipment per staff, which is completely understandable, especially given the year that we’ve had.
“If this is the case, employers could look at purchasing new equipment for the office only. Offices are at reduced capacity, and at least half of the staff will be working remotely, therefore you could create a hot-desking system where staff plug in their laptop to a docking station each day. Companies should already be adopting a clear desk policy, and have the offices cleaned every night to prevent the potential spread of infection, therefore having a hot-desk policy is a safe and viable approach to working.
“Alternatively, if you are looking for staff to use their own personal devices, make sure that you have the correct security measures and protection in place. Too often companies will protect their own property but forget about their staff and their equipment.
“Did you know that human error is the leading cause of cybersecurity breaches? We are seeing an increase in phishing attacks, particularly from companies pretending to be the Government or other official sources around Covid-19. Although some of the emails are easy to spot, employees are frequently exposed to sophisticated phishing and ransomware attacks, which can cause financial and reputational damage to your business.
“It’s important that you establish a defence and detect approach to your security, where you not only defend yourself against actual attacks but you also proactively detect any potential threats. At IT Hotdesk we conduct a full assessment of our customers’ business and provide a full list of actions required to plug gaps and strengthen their defence against cyber threats.
“Small changes, such as installing a multi-factor authentication process and controlling access to the VPN, to paying for security awareness training for staff can help you save money in the long run. On average, a data breach costs companies $3.9 million – can you afford to risk it?
To find out more about Hybrid Working, sign up for our webinar. During our 1 hour session, we will discuss the best practices and strategies for businesses looking to adapt to the new normal whilst maintaining a strong cyber security posture.