The ability for employees to do work from home or other locations outside of the office is very useful, but there are risks associated with it. Especially if  the correct security measures have not been put in place and communicated to the employee.

Poor security and a confusion over responsibility put business data at risk for those working remotely, according to recent research from global data storage and information security company, Imation Corp.

However, would these dangers merit putting a stop to remote workers? And how serious are the risks?

What are the risks?

With as many as 40% of office workers having had their device stolen or lost in a public place, and 75% of these devices holding important business information, the convenience of remote workers is being questioned.

It’s also apparent that fewer than a third of businesses have policies that inform employees about the proper procedures for handling company information outside of the office. This means that there is the potential for confidential information to fall into the wrong hands without anyone knowing about it.

However, it’s not just the possibility of device theft or loss that makes working outside of the office a problem, many people have admitted to glancing at someone’s laptop or phone screen in a public place, and having had the same done to them. This means that even when you’re under the impression that you’re in control of the data you’re working on, you may not be.

With problems like this, it’s hardly surprising that there are concerns with regards to employees working anywhere other than the office.

Not only do these factors mean someone else could remove data from your device such as emails, customer data and confidential business information, they may also be able to acquire passwords which could give them access to a companies or clients data remotely themselves.

Less than 7% of workers have any concerns about the safety of the businesses information when they are outside of the office. In fact, it was found that some employees care so little that they knowingly break their company’s data security policy in order that they are able to easily work outside the office.

How can these risks be avoided?

If you still want to benefit from the positive aspects of remote workers, it’s important that you have steps in place to ensure the safety of your business data. You should also have a policy in place for remote workers in your business. This could include rules about data encryption, password setting, device management and remote data wiping.

You should also encourage those who are working outside of the office to separate their personal information from their work information and to avoid working in public places whenever possible. Pubs, cafes and restaurants (22%), and public transport (29%) are some of the most common locations for employees to read or write work emails when outside of their home.

Of course, it would not be ideal to stop your employees from working remotely, but it could be crippling to have data go missing. The key is to ensure employees are trained in secure data management and are aware of how important it is that they follow policy when out of the office.

[Photo Credit: Wholesale of Void ]

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