If you’ve been reading our blog recently, you are well aware of the statistics. The new normal for many American workers, especially those of the Millennial generation, is remote and flexible. 3.9 Million Americans claim to work from home for at least half of the week, according to Wolters Kluwer.
And it’s not just millennial’s pushing the trend forward. Businesses have gotten on board as they have realized the benefits it can provide not only for their employees but for them as well. A wider talent pool, reduced turnover, cost savings. The benefits go on and vary from industry to industry, but there are risks inherent in launching and supporting a true flexible and remote strategy for your business. From data breaches to loss and theft of devices, these concerns can leave you asking is engaging in an employee mobility policy a security threat for your business, or an opportunity to grow? The simple truth, however, is that remote and flexible work is the future of work, and Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) cloud services can get you there.
Employee Mobility: The Risk
As with any new technology, there is a fear of the unknown. While the cloud is not all that “new,” and has been around for almost two decades, many businesses are just now overcoming their initial fears of the solution and the technology is becoming accepted as a viable way to do business. And though there is nothing to truly fear in going to a cloud desktop service, such as DaaS, to support the trend in remote work, there are risks that you should be aware of.
Risk #1: Loss or theft of physical device
One of the biggest concern businesses (and rightly so) have is that of Data Security. The idea of corporate data roaming free out in the world and away from the fortified security of the office can keep CEOs and IT professionals up at night. Many of the most significant breaches in history have been as a result of misplaced physical devices, like laptops or other removable storage devices. Things happen quickly, and employees who are constantly on the move and accessing their work files as they are on the move, are at risk of accidentally leaving the device behind. On the subway, in a taxi, in a restaurant. And it’s just not lost data – but stolen data. It’s just logical to assume that devices that are on the move are more likely to be the target of thieves than devices tied down to one physical location. Corporations looking to embark on a remote work and flexible environment for their employees need to take this risk very seriously and have a policy in place to handle these challenges if they arise.
Risk #2: Malware or virus infestation
Corporate offices put a lot of effort into making sure their networks are secure and free of viruses and malware. Enabling and even encouraging employees to work from anywhere and connect to any service can leave anyone anxious. According to Antivirus provider, Norton, there are significant risks in utilizing open and free public wifi. From Man in the Middle attacks, snooping & sniffing, malware distribution and malicious hotspots, devices connected to these open wifi locations can be put at risk of infestation or data loss. According to Norton, software vulnerabilities in physical devices give access to hackers to slip malware onto laptops, and the employee may not even realize they’ve been invaded.
Risk #3: Data on the move
Another risk keeping IT professionals up at night when considering the security of the businesses data while employees are on the move is the risk of snooping and/or sniffing of public WiFi and any devices connected to the devices. Snooping and Sniffing can give cybercriminals full access to any data an employee may have accessed during their session on the exposed WiFi, including full web pages and login credentials.
Employee Mobility: The Opportunity
The reality is that you can try to force employees to only work from inside the 4 walls of your corporate fortress and give in to your fear of the unknown and scary world outside, but the prevalence of cloud solutions and the “as-a-service” economy means your employees can simply take it upon themselves to download and install these apps on their own. Not only does this strict policy increase your organization’s risk of “shadow IT” but the damage to employee morale and productivity can have an even worse impact on your businesses bottom line.
Opportunity #1: Recruit and Retain Highly Qualified Talent
We shared in our last post on the Future of Work how Millennials, specifically, are driving the remote and flexible work trend. With these up and coming powerhouses increasingly entering the workforce, businesses need to take note. In one survey, 80% of Millennials would leave their current employer for another who boasted flexible work arrangements. Deloitte’s Millennial Survey for 2016 found that “56% of Millennials would rule out ever working for a particular organization because of its values.” And McKinsey & Company found that “Millennials are more likely to accept a job offer from a company that offers flexible work schedules.”
With so many potential employees emphasizing remote work, it is entirely in your corporation’s benefit to embark on a strategy that encourages and enables this trend.
Opportunity #2: Increased Productivity
As we have previously stated in last week’s blog, a study by Wakefield Research and co-sponsored by Citrix found that businesses who enable a flexible work strategy realize significant benefits including:
- Increased employee morale (51%)
- Increased employee productivity (50%)
- Reduced employee turnover (35%)
- Attracting more talented job candidates (34%)
A 50% increase in productivity from your employees is no laughing matter. 12 hours of work out of an 8-hour workday can significantly improve your business’s competitive edge. And what would it mean for your business if it was the top talent in the industry who did those same 12 hours of work?
By enabling your workforce to work from wherever they are, you no longer need to worry about lost productivity from illness or doctor’s appointments. Or even commuting delays and weather. The idea of not having physical contact with your workforce for 40 hours a week can be scary, but if you can’t trust your staff to work when you can’t see them, then do you really have the right people in place?
Opportunity #3: Reduced Costs
Does this one has you scratching your head? It’s true, and there are several ways this is accomplished. To start, when your workforce is primarily remote, the cost of providing space and utilities for your staff is removed, especially if your workforce works from their homes. In this blog on Ohio University’s site, they state that businesses can save up to $10,000 a year per employee just due to the reduced cost of space, utilities, supplies and employee accommodations. Multiply that by 100, that’s $1 Million US dollars a year. What could your business do with this type of savings on the bottom line?
It goes beyond simple cost reductions. Let us circle back to our point above, how telecommuters produce 50% more than those who work in their office. They work when they are sick, and even when they are on vacation. The same infographic from Ohio University home-based customer service agents answered 13.5% more calls than their office-based co-workers and that American Express home-based sales agents handled more calls and brought in 43% more opportunities than office-based staff.
Add into the mix the use of cloud solutions to enable your workforce to effectively work remotely, and you can save even more, especially when you look at solutions such as cloud-based (DaaS) Desktop-as-a-Service. You can save additional rental space by moving the server closet from your physical space to that of your cloud provider, who then takes on the expenses of housing, maintaining, cooling and other requirements of maintaining a data center. And your IT Staff will no longer need to worry about the day to day management of a data center and can focus on adding more strategies and technology that can further enhance the productivity and growth of your business.
Remote Work Strategies and Cloud-Based DaaS are your biggest growth opportunity
It’s a noisy world out there, with businesses struggling to compete for the same audience. Customer experience and customer service are quickly becoming defining factors in customer retention rates. If your employees are happy, they are more likely to ensure that their customers are also happy. Happy employees can equal happy customers. Happy customers equal more sales and revenue. Flexible work strategies have shown, per Wakefield’s study, that flexible work arrangements increase employee morale by 51%! So that leaves one simple question. What is holding you back from what could be the biggest opportunity to fall in your corporation’s lap since you began operations?