No matter what kind of business you are in, or in what position you work – odds are you’ve been impacted by the effects of the pandemic. In fact, covid forced the hand of millions of employers around the world to rethink how business is done.
Thankfully, technology has been a tremendous resource in helping business owners and managers tread water during those dark days. Most noteworthy, remote work revolutionized how businesses operated and maintained productivity during the worst of covid. In the midst of shut-ins and forced quarantines, remote work enabled employees to conduct “business as usual” and also kept a lot of businesses from shutting down altogether.
Today, covid restrictions are beginning to lift, but in many cases, the remote work scene is still in full swing. In fact, according to Forbes, 97% of employees would prefer to continue working remotely rather than go back to the way things were.
While there are big benefits to both employers and employees to working under the current “new norms” – there is a lot to factor while upholding a fully remote, or hybrid working situation post-covid. Namely, we’re talking about maintaining the safety and privacy of your business tech and assets when you have remote employees.
The Risks of Remote Work and How To Negotiate Them
Although remote work scenarios can be a boon to businesses and employees alike, they can also bring about certain risks. Here are the top four risks associated with having a remote workforce in place with your business.
Potential Compromises in Tech Assets
When employees work in the office, you have far better control over your data, information technology, and business privacy. Alternatively, that control fades once your employee is working remotely from home. Your off-site workers have access to your network, databases, and online business systems. Considering that, do you know if these at-home workers have a private internet connection? Are their devices as privacy-protected as your PCs in the office?
If you’re unclear about answers to those questions, it’s vital to initiate strong remote work data protection practices to safeguard your business tech assets. Having strong privacy strategies in place will ensure your businesses’ assets as well as protect your customers’ privacy whenever your remote workers access your business network.
Other best practices include making antivirus software mandatory on PCs belonging to all employees who work from home. Also admonish your remote workers from using public WiFi, as this is a gateway for cyber attackers and hackers.
Weakened Employee Engagement and Disorganization
According to a post-covid Gallup report, 21% of remote workers admitted to feeling isolated and often unmotivated when working from home. It makes sense because when working from home, employees don’t have the same stimulation or engagement as they might in a conventional office.
Instead, virtual workers are surrounded by familiarities. In many cases, there is very little structure in a home office setup – at least not as structured as a business office location might provide. Consequently, employers have noticed some decreases in productivity due to a lack of structure and lack of remote employee engagement.
You can correct this by putting systems in play that keep your remote workers on track as well as keep them organized. For instance, consider implementing desktop applications that allow your remote team to stay connected. Microsoft Teams or Google Suite apps can allow instant messages, shared project spreadsheets, as well as shared employee schedules.
These and other cloud-based integrations can help stimulate remote employees by engaging in motivational communication throughout the day. They can also help with time management with reminders and shared calendars.
One of the most commonly overlooked aspects of remote work situations is the mental and physical risks that directly impact your at-home employees. According to a study published by Forbes Magazine, 40% of remote workers claim they feel compelled to work harder and more hours than when they worked in a traditional office environment.
As a result, many workers spend way too much time hunched over the computer, which can lead to physical compromises such as poor posture, muscle atrophy, weight gain, high blood pressure, and a slew of other ailments.
You can reduce physical risks to employees by encouraging regular breaks during the workday. Perhaps you can even introduce yoga or stretching sessions during lunch in which employees are invited to introduce movement in their day via an online mild exercise video conference.
Mental exhaustion is also a risk to remote employees. Because they tend to work harder, the threat of mental burnout is a real concern. This can be avoided by inviting employees to attend online “recreational” meetings.
Similar to encouraging body-movement breaks and online stretching sessions – these recreational meetings are about getting employees in a chat room to blow off steam, communicate and take a break. This can make a big difference in keeping employee mental health on track and reducing the risk of burnout.
Having a remote work situation posits both pros and cons. The trick is to monitor your remote workers and implement safety measures that protect both your business assets and your employees.