Remote workforce management requires special skills. You can’t just “drop by” to see how your people are doing. You might wonder if your remote workforce is staying productive, especially if they are new to remote work arrangements. Optimizing productivity is worthwhile. However, all the productivity in the world can be wiped out by an IT security incident. That’s why improving cybersecurity needs to be one of your remote workforce management priorities.
Remote Workforce Management: The Top 3 Challenges To Focus On
As a manager, you only have so much time and energy available. To keep you focused on what’s important, focus on these matters.
1) Communicate More Frequently And Use Different Channels
In a remote work context, you don’t get the kind of casual hallway banter and coffee chats that define traditional offices. As a result, it is more difficult to build and sustain professional relationships. The one cure to this problem is to increase your communication quantity and variety. If all you did was use Slack and email last week, make a resolution to add a few one-on-one phone calls this week.
Tip: Some offices organize a “virtual happy hour” on Fridays once or twice per month. Add that option to your toolkit if you need a way to strengthen relationships and trust in your virtual team.
2) Remote Working Tools to Remove Barriers
When your employees lack the right tools, they are going to struggle to be productive. To overcome this problem, brainstorm a list of three to five must-have items for remote work; for example, a laptop, a smartphone, a comfortable headset and a comfortable office chair. With this list in hand, reach out to your employees and ask them what they need to stay productive. If multiple employees ask for the same item (e.g. noise-canceling headphones to help them focus), escalate the issue to HR and ask for a budget to get your people equipped.
3) IT Security For Remote Workforce Management
Security is more difficult with a remote workforce. After all, you cannot ask people to change their homes just for the sake of corporate security. Instead, look for technologies and small adjustments your team can make. For example, using a VPN (a virtual private network) is one good way to improve security. That said, you cannot rely on a single system to secure your company’s data. You need a suite of processes, training and IT security software to maintain security.
4 Simple Tips Managers Can Use To Improve Remote Workforce Security
Managers and supervisors have an important role to play in guiding and leading remote employees. However, managers need support too! After all, you might have your deliverables to meet in addition to guiding your team. To make remote security easier for managers, there are a few software tools we recommend you use.
1) Eliminate Email Back And Forth For Access Changes
Some companies still rely on email to manage access requests. That means every time an employee needs access to a system, she needs to send a request to her manager to request approval. The manager then needs to review that request and reply. Finally, the manager needs to archive that email in case the IT audit asks for it later. There’s a better way! Provide standard access permissions on a group basis. For example, most sales staff will need the same 10-15 tools in your company. Instead of jumping through the hoops of manually requesting each tool, give your employees a standard set of accounts. That’s easy to do with Group Enforcer.
2) Reduce Password Reset Delays
When you can’t log in to your corporate system, it’s frustrating. You might have just entered your password in a rush a few too many times, and then you’re suddenly locked out. The next step — calling the IT help desk for a password reset — might take another 15 minutes. There’s a faster way to get this done. Use an IT security chatbot like Apollo.
3) Ask For Feedback About IT Security Challenges
Remote workforce management makes communication harder. Well, that’s the conventional wisdom! It doesn’t have to be that way. To support your staff, organize a one-hour “virtual drop-in” session with your company’s IT security department. This is a great time and place for you to get feedback and questions from your staff. For example, invite questions on the best ways to use single sign-on to save time. When you can show new IT security processes that save time, your staff will become more interested.
Tip: If you start to observe an ongoing theme, such as staff complaining about how long it takes to get a password reset, take note of those comments. You can include those comments in a business case to buy an IT security software solution.
4) Restrict Paper Use and Corporate Mail
Traditional security measures are still important when it comes to protecting confidential data. In a conventional office, you might have a mailroom to accept and manage packages. In a remote workforce context, your employees may ask to receive packages from customers at home, such as signed contracts. That is a less secure practice. Instead, investigate alternative tools such as e-signature tools so that you can continue to do business without mailing sensitive documents.
Home printers are another area that may need to be restricted. We know that some companies prohibit corporate laptops from connecting to non-approved printers. Since your remote workforce may not have access to a shredder, there is a security risk when documents are presented at home. If staff must print at home, consider equipping them with a shredder.
Remote Workforce Management: Focus On the Security Fundamentals
Adjusting to a remote workforce as a manager takes some time to learn. You can accelerate the process by choosing one or two techniques from this article and putting them into practice. As a starting point, Technique 3 — asking for feedback about IT security — is an easy way to start. Based on what you hear from your employees, you can decide which tools, software and processes need to be provided.