This is how you make hybrid working actually work [5 key tips]


September 1, 2021

 

So your employees want to blend working from the office and home. Great! Hybrid workers have the potential to deliver great work in less time, without occupying all of your company computers and eating all the granola bars from the office snack bar. Obviously, it’s a little more complicated than that. How will you know that hybrid workers are actually working when they’re at home? And what about security risks such as unsafe Wi-Fi at home? In this blog, we’ll discuss five focus points to turn hybrid working into a success for all parties involved.

“Isn’t hybrid working a management nightmare?”

Good news! Blending work from home and work from the office is easier than ever before. It’s gone from hype to standard working practice. But that’s not all. Apart from good employment practices, there are plenty of reasons why hybrid working is a good idea, such as:

  • Hire the best talents regardless of where they live – if they don’t need to be in the office every day, it makes longer commutes when they do need to come in much more manageable.
  • Allow employees to improve their work-life balance
  • Support employees when they’re working from client offices or on the road
  • Enable key members of the organisation to respond to internal and external changes, no matter where they are

However, none of these benefits come for free. If you ask us, there are five things to consider when you have employees access the company network remotely:

  1. Focus on output rather than working hours
  2. Perform a sanity check for your company network
  3. Secure access between remote devices and the company network
  4. Split private applications from work applications
  5. Keep an eye on device status

Let’s talk you through them one by one!

 

Focus on output rather than working hours

When employees work from home, there’s no way you can control when they work. They’ll likely have a different routine when at home. But that’s ok! When you let people work from home, stop focussing on hours and focus instead on work completed instead. Did the marketing manager come up with a campaign blueprint and did he made the blog briefings like he said he would? Then it doesn’t matter if he also works flexible hours. Has the output of that one sales professional drastically lowered since she started working from home? Talk to her and take measures. This approach works far better than focussing on hours, trust me.

 

Perform a sanity check for your company network

One way or another, remote workers gain access to your company network. So, if you let people work from home, you increase security risks. It’s as simple as that. But before you get all excited about water-tight rules for your employees’ private devices, focus first on your company network.

Be honest, how well secured are you? Do you all share the same password, or are you covered by a Network Access Solution that carefully monitors devices and people entering the network? You can’t secure communication between remote devices and your network if you don’t have your act together at the office. And, in truth, using device management on private devices can open up a whole host of complications for you.

 

Secure access between remote devices and the company network

Remote workers probably need to gain access to the company network for files and emails. This is risky, as often, they do so by using an internet connection that is out of your control. Or even worse, they use unsafe Wi-Fi. When connected to unsafe Wi-Fi, it’s very easy for people with bad intentions to intercept communication between workers and your company network, with all that this implies. Therefore, most companies use a VPN connection to make secure communication happen. VPN connections, however, are not necessarily ideal, as they form a direct connection between someone’s laptop and your computer network, bypassing all controls. This means the VPN can transport all kinds of troublemakers such as malware into your network.

The solution lies in encrypting the data that is exchanged between the device and your company network. This way, it doesn’t matter how unsafe the home Wi-Fi is: outsiders can’t access the data anyway. Even better: this solution works even if the device isn’t managed by your company.

 

Split private applications from work applications

There’s a second issue we need to tackle. When remote workers use their own device (which they often do as it’s just more convenient), company applications such as e-mail get mixed with private applications like WhatsApp, images and private e-mail. This is risky too. iPhones are known for their eagerness to back everything up in the Cloud, which means that company files and photos might end up there too. In most scenarios, device management is intrusive and unnecessary. It’s why we recommend containerising all company applications, separate them from private applications and only manage this part of the device. This can be done by installing a tool (such as MailZen) that create isolated and secured environments on any laptop, tablet or phone. An additional benefit is that MailZen also encrypts communication between the container and the company network, hitting two targets with one shot.

 

Keep an eye on device status

Sometimes devices fall into the wrong hands. An employee loses his phone in a café, or a laptop is stolen from a bag. In this case, you need to be able to block the entire container with one click of a button, to avoid unauthorised users breaking into your systems. Therefore, make sure you can track the company applications through a dashboard. This way, you can temporarily block them in case of theft, or delete them altogether when an employee is leaving the company. This doesn’t mean you should spy on your employees when they’re at home; simply track activity status of the business applications in the container. It’s what you’d do for business applications at the office, too!

Want to learn more about ways to secure remote access? Download the white paper below for free.

Secure Remote Access with the Zero Trust Approach

 

Originally published 17th October 2019, updated 1st September 2021 for relevancy.

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