Remote Working on the Rise

Remote working is increasing in popularity as 96 percent of surveyed organisations now permit remote/mobile working, with 98 percent stating that it is advantageous to their organisation, according to new research commissioned by global data storage and information security company Imation Corp. The survey of 500 IT decision makers in the UK and Germany conducted by Vanson Bourne on behalf of Imation’s IronKey found around three in five organisations believe that remote working has increased employee motivation due to greater flexibility (62 percent), and led to increased productivity as employees can work from multiple locations (61 percent).

The flexibility of remote working practices enables employees to work from numerous locations, with the most common methods of remote working being: home working (62 percent); BYOD (Bring Your Own Device, 51 percent) and VDI (Virtual desktop infrastructure, 46 percent). On top of this, around a third (32 percent) of respondents’ organisations have employees that are working from client sites.

Despite the shift in attitude, data breaches and business costs are still amongst the biggest concerns for organisations when weighing up the value of remote working, with nine in ten (92 percent) organisations highlighting that remote working causes challenges or concerns.

A third of respondents stressed data security as a top fear when considering remote working practices. Over half (54 percent) are worried about data losses through misplaced devices, whilst 61 percent fret about insider threats, and the potential for employees to expose the organisation to the risk of a data breach or loss.

These concerns are hardly surprising given that 42 percent of organisations also admitted that they are unable to keep track of what data employees take with them away from the office – with employees still using potentially unsecure methods such as printing information out on paper (31 percent) and emailing files to themselves (27 percent).

Despite the growing popularity of remote working, around four in ten (41 percent) of respondents’ organisations do not currently have a remote working policy that covers IT security considerations – and only 21 percent of organisations enforce, or plan to enforce their remote working policy via IT processes. This is worrying when taking into account that 67 percent of organisations believe their employees are breaking the organisation’s security rules in order to work remotely.

There also appears to be a lack of basic security measures, with over half (54 percent) of respondents agreeing that the data employees take away from the office could be more adequately secured.

Another major drawback comes with the cost implications, with 45 percent citing concerns about the cost of providing the technology to enable remote working. With 99 percent of those that permit remote working already providing the technology to enable their employees to do so, and 72 percent highlighting that the use of a work laptop is the most likely method of taking digital files away from the office, it is unsurprising that the cost implications of remote working are raising concerns.

“Whilst making remote working available to a larger number of employees has its benefits, the cost and risks associated still make it a difficult route for many organisations to tread. Businesses are unaware of the amount, and type, of data leaving the office, yet they are well aware that employees are regularly breaking the rules in order to take work home. Inadequate security, combined with the naivety surrounding the protection of corporate data, is putting organisations at risk of a data breach,” said Nick Banks, vice president EMEA and APAC, IronKey.

“It is important for companies to embrace mobile working, but managing the security of data on the move and ensuring there are policies in place to protect it, the employees, and the organisations who own it, should be a priority for anyone considering remote working,” added Banks.

A change in UK legislation last year has made the practice of remote working a reality for more and more employees, and 61 percent feel that it will soon become the norm in most organisations.

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine