What a few years we’ve had recently! It wasn’t too long ago that working from home was thought of as an exclusive employee benefit, but for many of us since the COVID-19 pandemic it is the new norm.
Businesses who believed that a work from home strategy would solve their operational resilience challenges are starting to realise that this is not the case. Instead, they are finding that it merely changes the problems they have and presents new risks.
This does not mean that a remote or hybrid working strategy is doomed to fail. Remote and hybrid working is completely possible long-term. However, it is important that businesses ensure that their operational resilience strategy is adapted to include the working from home environment. This is especially true from a data, cyber security and risk perspective, particularly as staff may also need to transport confidential material and laptops more frequently in a hybrid arrangement.
Martin Lewis, Availability Sales Manager at Daisy, explains how to maintain operational resilience in a work from home environment and the key questions you need to ask when it comes to your work from home strategy.
Key considerations include:
• Compliance and risk management
• Concentration of risk
• Cyber security risks
• Data security and integrity challenges, especially in highly regulated industries
• The impact of the cost of living crises
1. Compliance and risk management
The move to remote working has broadened the responsibilities of risk managers, with vulnerabilities coming from more places than ever before. Not only do organisations need to comply with current regulations, but they also have to contend with the rise in cyber risks that working from home has facilitated. Though beneficial in many ways, working from home brings with it new potential for data breaches, audit failures and third-party risks. Many of these risks, such as IT security and remote accessibility were quickly addressed at the height of the pandemic, however certain strategies put in place were temporary measures rather than long term solutions. This is now leaving many businesses vulnerable.
Almost all of the risks associated with working from home can be mitigated, depending on the nature of your business and the sector you operate in. If you have not done so already, it is important that you update your compliance and risk management strategies or even group policies.
As an example, regulated businesses within the financial services sector have had a challenging time adjusting to working from home, as it makes it increasingly harder to maintain control functions and effective corporate governance. Remote working makes it more difficult to protect client confidentiality, increasing the risk of serious reputational damage.
How can Daisy help?
Our BCI accredited and award-winning consultants can support you through all stages of your business continuity planning and management. We are here to help you achieve compliance and governance every step of the way.
2. Concentration of risk in a work from home environment
If your employees are all based in a similar location, such as a particular geographic area, there is a concentrated risk of disruption caused by a localised power outage, exchange failures and natural/unnatural disasters.
This is especially relevant with The National Grid’s warning that households and businesses across Britain could face power cuts of up to 23 hours this winter. This creates additional challenges for employers, particularly those that are all situated within one city or region. Workforces that rely on electronic communication and collaboration will struggle to work effectively
Furthermore, remote or hybrid workers will be mainly reliant on broadband services, services which are not designed in the same way that corporate networks are. Not only does this put enormous strain on the broadband network, but also concentrates risk into a single VPN solution for those remote workers to securely connect into the corporate network and some may not be able to work at all during the outages.
In the event of a power outage, the business becomes reliant on 4G and 5G mobile data services, which will further increase risk, as these are not designed to replace traditional networking services, especially as the mobile broadband will be shared between many businesses.
How can Daisy help?
All our work area recovery centres are designed to run independently of the national grid, at both a local and national level. Fully equipped with generators with sufficient fuel to run nonstop for up to one week. We have fuel supply contracts to top up fuel within 24hours of our request and we also have our own fuel in bowsers ready to be shipped to a site in an emergency or if there is a fuel shortage. This enables us to keep the lights on for you, even during a blackout.
As you would expect, as well as protecting against power outages and brownouts, all the systems at each recovery centre are all fully resilient, including the networks. This resilience is site wide, covering all the building, including the work area recovery suites as well the data centres, etc.
3. Data security and cyber security
A work from home environment increases your exposure to cyber security risks. Humans are always the weakest link in the cyber security chain. It is important to ensure you have an up-to-date policy for data protection and recovery that accommodates a remote/hybrid workforce.
Many employees are not aware that a simple slip-up on their part could lead to a data breach exposing personal data. These data breaches can not only undermine consumer confidence but also lead to costly GDPR fines.
Top risks of working from home include:
• GDPR breaches
• Irregular or incomplete backups
• Unsecured home devices
• Weak passwords
• Unencrypted file sharing
• Phishing emails
How can Daisy help?
Hybrid working is here to stay, and it can be just as secure as office-based working if you take the time to understand the top security risks for remote work and work towards mitigating these risks.
You can read more on data protection and security in a work from home environment here.
4. The cost of living crisis
Employees across the country rejoiced when the nation moved to a permanent increase in home working and hybrid working models. But will the increased cost of living and exorbitant energy costs drive them back to the office?
Reports show that it is looking that way, as the cost of living crisis continues to deepen as we enter autumn, some 14% of Britons plan to spend more time working from the office to reduce home energy bills. This figure rises to nearly a quarter (23%) among 18-24 year olds, according to research by MoneySupermarket.com2.
This creates the need to re-think and revert to pre-COVID operational resilience requirements, based on the likelihood of having more people back in office locations and the necessity to manage risks in that environment, generally covered by services like work area recovery.
How can Daisy help?
We’ve been delivering industry-leading dedicated and syndicated work area recovery seats in the UK for more than 20 years and provide all the IT, office, and environmental facilities that your workforce needs if they are displaced from their usual working environments.
We’re here to answer your questions if you are unsure of anything relating to operational resilience. Give one of our experts a call on 0344 863 3000. Wherever you are on your resilience journey, we are here to support you!
About Martin Lewis
Operational Resilience Sales Manager, Daisy
Martin puts to good use his 26 years of experience from across the full spectrum of the IT industry, having held positions across leading vendors, distributers, resellers and service providers. Now leading the Operational Resilience Sales Specialists team at Daisy, he and his team strive to ensure our solutions meet or exceed customer demands around governance, compliance and risk management. Working with an award-winning team of business continuity management and IT service continuity consultants, Martin and his team cement Daisy’s presence as a leading provider of Operational Resilience solutions in the UK.
1 Gov UK
2 ITV News