Many companies today offer remote workforce opportunities. Current technology makes it possible, and companies save money on resources such as building space, furniture, heat, and water. There are benefits to the worker too, including flexibility and increased job satisfaction.
But managing mobile workers isn’t as simple as letting them set up shop remotely – be it overseas or just down the road. Companies must manage their talent properly and have strict safety measures in place.
Be Prepared for BYOD (Bring Your Own Device): A recent global survey from Gartner revealed that half of all employees will be required to bring their own devices by 2017; the survey also noted that the unexpected consequence of BYOD programs will be a doubling or even tripling of the size of the mobile workforce. This trend cannot be ignored, and companies should have resources in place to handle the upcoming shift.
While employees may be more satisfied working with their preferred devices, this practice can result in network capacity issues and security risks from other people’s systems. Companies must be ready to deal with overloads, or personal devices that have been exposed to harmful malware or viruses.
Gartner recommends that enterprise policies on employee-owned hardware usage need to be thoroughly reviewed and, where necessary, updated and extended. The company also advises setting policies to define clear expectations around what workers can and can’t do.
Be Safe: Mobile workers must be extra cautious about what they’re doing and where they’re doing it. They must use strong passwords and change them regularly, especially when traveling to and from different countries. They must clear their Internet browsers (deleting history, cache, cookies, and temporary files) before logging out. Only company computers should be used when logging into the company’s network.
The FBI’s Web site offers helpful Internet safety advice for those traveling abroad, including some from its Cyber Division: don’t connect to an unknown Wi-Fi network. But if you must, take the following precautions to minimize threats:
- Make sure your laptop security is up to date, with current versions of your operating system, Web browser, firewalls, and antivirus and anti-spyware software;
- Don’t conduct financial transactions or use applications like email and instant messaging;
- Change the default setting on your laptop so you have to manually select the Wi-Fi network you’re connecting to; and
- Turn off your laptop’s Wi-Fi capabilities when you’re not using them.
Manage Time Appropriately: According to recent studies, employees can be significantly more productive when working remotely. However, due to current technologies allowing for 24/7 connectivity, many feel obligated to work longer hours. Help your mobile workers set a boundary between business and personal time. If a worker will be inaccessible, have him or her set up voicemail and e-mail messages clearly stating a return time and who can be contacted for immediate attention.
Connect Regularly – In Person: Make sure your mobile workers maintain their connections in the best way possible – with regularly scheduled, face-to-face meetings. There is something intangible and invaluable about in-person meetings that allow employees to truly connect and stay in touch on a real level. And it is a great reason to get together two mobile workers in the same city who’ve never met – allowing them to attach a real person to an email address.