Communication is critical when it comes to managing a remote workforce. From delivery drivers to equipment repairmen, today’s mobile field workers are more connected than ever thanks to technology. But communication efficiency and productivity gains do come with risks, particularly for remote workers who handle sensitive information as part of their jobs.
By 2028, it’s estimated that 73 percent of all teams will have at least one remote worker. And that means a lot more than just work-from-home employees. It’s hospitals collaborating with doctors across the country using VR. Oil platform workers are now constantly connected to both equipment and work teams with iPads. While this all makes the world run smoother, remote working security risks need more attention than ever from executives and IT professionals.
“A new digitally enabled, dynamic workforce can operate from various locations, and these remote workers introduce new identity-assurance problems,”
explains Chris Miller, regional UK director of cybersecurity firm RSA Security.
The concern is even greater for companies or public entities that allow remote access to things like patient health records, passcodes to secure facilities or government military files. The good news is that with the right technology and business practices, organisations can both optimise their remote workforce and ensure private data isn’t stolen or exposed.
1. Use End-to-End Encrypted Communication
The primary remote worker data security concern is simply keeping information away from unauthorised third-parties. But ensuring that all enterprise messaging and communication to, from, and among remote workers requires the right technology. Today, end-to-end encryption is the gold standard for secure mobile messaging and communications.
With end-to-end encryption, data is encrypted on the sender’s device or system. Only the device of an authorised recipient is able to decrypt the message and view its contents. This makes it nearly impossible for third-parties to access, from hackers and cybercriminals to internet and cloud service providers. That’s because the cryptographic encryption keys needed to decipher messages are stored only on end-user devices.
The only way a hacker could potentially circumvent end-to-end encryption is through the endpoint device itself. Hospital workers, for instance, can send private patient data to each other knowing that the possibility of a “man-in-the-middle” security breach is all but impossible. The bottom line is that end-to-end encryption and key management for remote workers is an essential technology for keeping all workforce communications safe and secure.
The bottom line is that end-to-end encryption and key management for remote workers is an essential technology for keeping all workforce communications safe and secure.
2. Build Managerial Dashboards and Reports
Next, it’s critical to have visibility into the performance of your remote workers. You’ll also want to monitor the on-going safety and security of day-to-day communications and information exchange. That’s why you’ll want to utilise dashboards and reports as two key remote access technologies for workforce management.
What metrics you track will vary depending on your organisation’s key performance indicators (KPI) and overall goals. An electric utility company might want to track how long it takes repairmen to fix a telephone line, for example. Whatever enterprise software tools you use for remote workforce management, be set up custom reports and dashboards to get real-time, measurable insights into your remote team’s performance.
You’ll also want transparency into secure internal communication taking place among your mobile or remote workforce. Some secure enterprise instant messaging tools allow you to create dashboards to both track work progress and monitor the security of all communications. From boosting productivity to protecting sensitive data, managerial dashboards and reporting are must-haves in your workforce management software stack.
3. Create Secure Team Messaging Groups
The ability to segment secure internal communication within your remote workforce helps teams function more effectively. Smart workforce managers are now using enterprise messaging software and apps to facilitate smarter team collaboration. Technology now allows for chat groups to be created on the basis of more dynamic criteria like department, location, or area of expertise.
Take the entire repair and maintenance crew for a global airline, for example. These individuals need to be in constant communication with pilots, the air traffic controller, and other ground crew members. All while mobile and on the go. To allow problems to get solved faster, you might create internal chat groups based on common problems with a specific aircraft. Someone having trouble with an engine in Dubai can quickly troubleshoot with peers and get an answer from Melbourne or New York.
But you also need to emphasise the importance of security as it relates to team and group chat. In addition to using end-to-end encryption, you should strongly consider using software with auto-disappearing message functionality enabled for highly sensitive material. Unfortunately, it’s become natural for workers to let their guard down when it comes to business group chat apps that now look and feel like many consumer messaging apps.
“The more consumer-like and informal the experience, the more likely employees are to accidentally let slip confidential or inappropriate information,”
explains Amanda Finch, chief executive of the UK Chartered Institute of Information Security.
The complexion and definition of the remote workforce and mobile worker will only continue to expand thanks to technology. And it’s mostly a good thing, enhancing productivity, efficiency, and communication in almost every industry. But organisations do need to be realistic about the potential security and privacy threats posed by the remote workforce model.
Make sure your secure enterprise messaging technology uses end-to-end encryption keys.
Carefully track team performance and communications using managerial dashboards and reports. And consistently train your remote workforce on privacy and security best-practices to reduce remote working security risks.