Written by Anurag Lal, CEO NetSfere
The business landscape today includes a highly mobile workforce. A survey by Pew Research found that about a third (35%) of workers with jobs that can be done remotely are working from home all of the time and 41% of those with jobs that can be done remotely are working a hybrid schedule.
In the UK, according to the latest Chartered Institute of Personal Development (CIPD) report on flexible-hybrid working practices, 83% of organisations have a hybrid working approach in place. 45% of organisations have a formal policy, while 24% take an informal approach, and 13% are developing policies through learning and trialling. Overall, the number of people working from home some of the time has grown from 17% to 25% since the pandemic’s start, meaning a quarter of Brits are hybrid workers. Additionally, the UK Government’s proposal to make the right to request flexible working from day one, rather than after 26 weeks of employment, is likely to further escalate the amount of flexible working requests and likewise the number of employees working remotely.
It is worth noting that when working remotely, employees are not always at home. Remote work happens anywhere and everywhere; in coffee shops, co-working locations, libraries, restaurants, and all sorts of other locations. However, as the landscape of where work gets done continues to expand, so too do security and compliance risks.
The benefits of hybrid working are many
When looking at the wider impact of hybrid working, it has brought several positive outcomes. These include attracting and retaining talent as well as the ability to recruit from a wider geography and a more diverse workforce, as well as employee financial wellbeing.
But while remote working provides flexible work arrangements for employees, this workforce mobility presents major challenges for organisations, such as strengthening employees’ connection to the company’s purpose, and the ability of managers to lead teams effectively. It can also impact the culture of the organisation and there are security and compliance challenges, in particular, when it comes to enterprise communication.
Whether an enterprise is in the public or private sector, whether employees are in the office or working remotely, secure and compliant communication on enterprise-authorised channels is crucial to enabling accountable decision-making. Therefore, companies need to implement policies that mandate the use of authorised communication channels by all employees within an organisation. Such policies are vital not only for regulatory compliance but also for safeguarding data privacy and maintaining resilience against cyber threats.
This topic is particularly pertinent in financial services, with the SEC imposing fines totaling $1.1 billion on 16 firms including five affiliates of large banks for failing to maintain and preserve work-related electronic communications. Given 68% of workers still use their personal smartphones for both personal and business purposes and only 14% of organisations no longer allow the use of unapproved messaging services, the necessity of implementing secure and compliant technologies for business communications is clear.
More education around messaging platforms is needed
Incidents like the SEC fine have turned a spotlight onto the problems associated with using consumer-grade messaging platforms in a professional environment. These platforms are now ubiquitous for many people in their personal lives, and as more and more employees work outside of the office environment, so they mistakenly believe these are suitable communication tools for the workplace.
Indeed, consumer-grade apps have become deeply embedded in the UK government and the wider political world. According to The Institute for Government, between 13% and 31% of officials in some departments have these apps installed on their work phones. This can generate a host of problems with messages not being recorded properly, meaning historic decisions could go undocumented.
The truth is that consumer-grade messaging platforms were never built with the enterprise in mind. They lack the visibility, analytics, security, control, and archiving capabilities required for the workplace and with more folks working remotely this problem is only going to be exacerbated.
So how can organisations today be sure their distributed teams are communicating in a secure, compliant manner?
Implementing essential controls
This is where secure enterprise-grade messaging solutions like NetSfere are helping to ensure organisations remain secure. NetSfere has a comprehensive slate of administrative controls that enterprises today need to manage users, monitor activity, and enforce corporate policies to eliminate security and compliance risks.
NetSfere provides multiple levels of essential control. Its platform level controls equip enterprises with the ability to manage and control the messaging activities of all users within the organisation. These controls allow organisations to:
- Control key features like message lifetime, sharing of attachments outside the enterprise and messaging encryption requirements.
- Configure message archiving settings to comply with regulatory requirements and corporate data retention policies.
- Track in real time the number of accounts, active sessions by user, messages transmitted, and usage by device type.
Additionally, NetSfere’s application-level controls empower organisations to manage and monitor the internal and external users who access the messaging platform. Using these features enterprises can provide a frictionless, convenient user experience that enhances the employee experience while protecting the organisation’s security and compliance interests. And finally, its security-based controls ensure that NetSfere’s mobile messaging solution can accommodate the organisation’s strict security requirements.
Securely meeting demands for flexibility
The mobile workforce is here to stay, and today there are growing demands for certain types of flexible working. In fact, a lack of flexibility could prompt job and career changes. This means enterprises now need purpose-built real-time communication platforms with these robust administrative controls to embed data security and compliance into business communication across every channel. Only with these types of mobile messaging platforms will organisations be able to stop wondering and worrying if their business communication is as secure and compliant as it should be.