As much as we all hope that things will go back to “normal” when the threat of this pandemic ceases, there are some things that won’t – and one of those is the mobile workforce. This is a big topic, so we’re going to break it into two parts. In this part, we are going to focus on the problem, and in part two we’ll focus on the solution.
How We Got Here
The pandemic did not cause a change towards the mobile workforce, it merely accelerated it. As a country, we were beginning to move towards a more mobile workforce – especially among small businesses – well before February of 2020. After some compression when people can safely gather again, this concept will once again begin to expand.
Greater productivity. Lower overhead. Better work-life balance. It may not be for everyone, but there are a ton of good reasons to have a mobile workforce. Among small business owners, much of the resistance to it has been based on concerns over security and infrastructure costs. While those are factors, the real reason is a strongly held belief that so long as the data is contained within the walls of the business, it is secure.
Hackers proved that this is absolutely not the case.
Cyberattacks on small businesses have been on the rise because they can’t afford the same degree of security as the larger corporations. For this reason, more and more small business owners have been moving their data to cloud services over the past few years. This allows them to have all of the security of an enterprise-level organization at a tiny portion of the cost. As far as the concept of a mobile workforce goes, this one step began to mitigate many of the concerns over security and infrastructure costs, and we started to see work from home options.
And then the pandemic of 2020 happened.
In order to stay in operation, many small business owners had to move to a mobile workforce. There were challenges and adjustments. Video meetings and check-ins. Workers had to find ways to deal with the distractions of home. Managers had to find ways to effectively supervise remote workers. Security became more about access control:
While these address the technical aspects of securing remote computers, there is a huge hole in the security that sits between the keyboard and chair.
A Flaw in the Security
It is the job of your IT company to secure the technical aspects of your network. We build out your network with up-to-date firewalls and routers, provide secure remote access such as VPNs, handle security and firmware updates, install and monitor antivirus, and assist in controlling data access. Our goal is to make your small business as secure as possible.
And all it takes is one click on a phishing email to compromise your entire network.
Another of the strongly held beliefs prevalent in the small business world is that security hinders productivity. Unfortunately, this almost always comes down to one thing:
A newly married couple was making dinner together. While the wife prepared a roast, the husband began to put together the sides. Seeing his wife cut the end off the roast and toss it in the trash, he asked why she did that.
Expecting a response about it being juicier or cooking better, the wife shrugged and said, “It’s the way I was taught to cook it.”
A while later, they went to dinner at her parents. The husband wandered into the kitchen and saw his mother-in-law cut the end of the roast and throw it away. Again he asked why she did that.
And again the answer was a shrug and an explanation that it’s the way she was taught to cook it.
Eventually, they went to dinner at her grandparents. Upon hearing that grandma would be making a roast, the husband made sure to be in the kitchen during preparation. Seeing her cut the end off the roast and throw it away, he asked again why she did it, feeling certain that he would finally get an answer.
Grandma turned to him and said, “So that it fits in the pan.”
The problem with things that have worked well in the past is that they do not take always into consideration changes to the environment.
Whether the workforce is onsite or works remotely, the shift in how data is accessed and secured from in-house servers to cloud networks requires changes in our processes and procedures. We can’t keep doing the same things and be secure. Productivity must evolve to include security.
Come back in two weeks for Part 2,
where we’ll discuss Evolving Productivity into Security
and the steps to take to begin End User Training.
I’ve always had a love of working with technology, being fortunate enough to have grown up with a grandfather who taught me how to fix things for myself and not be afraid to jump in and get my hands dirty. Over the last three decades, I’ve worked as a technician, trainer, technical writer, and manager in small business, enterprise organizations, and government. In addition, I’m an author, having published multiple works available online and in print. You can find my creative work at https://WritingDistracted.com