The adoption of remote working practices is one of the key enablers of growth in businesses of all sizes, but it’s really in the SME sector that this culture yields such a benefit.
If implemented correctly, remote working can not only offer employees an increased work-life balance, but also offer invaluable cost savings across expenses such as office space and infrastructure.
A survey from Vodafone revealed that UK businesses could save a staggering £34bn by allowing their employees to have flexible remote working practices. This can free up much needed funds to allow a business to invest in attracting, hiring and retaining key talent or further develop its products or services.
It therefore comes as no surprise that recent research from Nimvelo has highlighted that 66 per cent of UK SMEs are operating remotely or employ remote staff.
In recent years, advances in technology such as high-speed broadband, VoIP telephone systems, and mobile devices, have enabled the adoption of remote working.
By using the correct technology, SMEs can ensure that all employees are constantly connected to the rest of their teams, increasing productivity in the workforce and often developing a remote company culture.
However, with advancements in technology, there is often increased risk, and issues can easily occur if technology is not implemented or rolled out correctly. There are two key areas that SMEs need to be aware of when enabling remote working and both revolve around security.
The first is ensuring that the correct levels of security are in place when employees are accessing internal systems, and the second is giving employees access to secure, yet fast and reliable real-time remote support for any technical issues.
Staying safe – ensuring the correct levels of security
SMEs who embrace remote working practices by encouraging employees to work from home or in a shared work space, using a plethora of devices and potentially insecure /open WiFi networks, run the risk opening up more points of access to their IT systems and networks.
This can make the business vulnerable to exploitation by hackers looking for an easy way in. With recent cyber-attacks delivered via a Trojan infested remote support tool, it is now more critical than ever that businesses consider remote support security to protect their network entry points.
The majority of SMEs are fully aware of these security implications and have concerns when it comes to implementing remote working practices. A staggering 80 per cent admitted cyber crime is a top priority and 77 per cent expecting their company to experience a serious information breach within the next new two years.
Therefore, it comes as no surprise that 23 per cent of workers who say their companies do not want to offer flexible or remote working, is due to data privacy concerns.
However, there are solutions on the market that can help to counteract these security concerns and vulnerabilities, by providing an added layer of security.
One product offering is privileged access management (PAM) solutions that work in conjunction with remote support products. PAM allows administrators to determine who has access to what assets based on their roles and responsibilities, making sure that critical information and assets are not in the hands of everyone in the organisation.
By choosing software with monitoring capabilities, businesses can act swiftly if an incident does occur and can efficiently trace it back to its source.
Real-time, secure technical support
One of the most overlooked elements in remote working is the implementation of a secure remote support solution for any technical issues employees may face. It is an invaluable solution that allows employers and IT staff to quickly fix any issues externally, screen share and collaborate as if everyone was in the same room.
However, many SMEs may be under the misconception that secure remote support tools are only suitable for enterprise-level businesses. This is far from the truth and there are solutions in the market that are created specifically to give SMEs the core functionalities they need to provide immediate, high-quality support services to their customers and employees.
The essential capabilities that SMEs should look out for when choosing their tools are: screen-sharing, support over multiple operating systems and for mobile devices, meeting hosting tools and basic remote session functions that include chat support, file transfer and screen annotations.
This makes it possible for any employee or technician to provide immediate support. To address security concerns, SMEs should choose remote support services that are hosted on a secure SaaS cloud architecture, ensuring your data remains separate from other customers.
In addition to this, if inclined businesses can look to deploy software with add-on capabilities. This way, SMEs can just pay for what they need, rather than paying for a complete package with functionalities that are not relevant to their requirements.
For example, offering extra features including “Jump Clients”, which allow technicians to connect to unattended systems, and tamper-proof session recordings, can capture a real-time video audit of all remote support activity.
With secure and connected remote working – what are SMEs waiting for?
When it comes to flexible remote working practices it is clear that there is a myriad of solutions available that address potential vulnerabilities and security concerns, thereby giving all companies the ability to embrace remote working practices.
After all, with 46 per cent of people in employment in the UK wanting a flexible role, SMEs can lead the remote working revolution.
William Culbert is director of solutions for engineering at Bomgar
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