Digital security products specialist Avast has announced findings from its 2018 Mobile Workforce Report. The research found that new flexible working practices could pose a security risk to small businesses, with one in five of employees (21 per cent) stating they are most productive when working in public spaces like a cafe or library, but only 18 per cent concerned with the security implications this could have. Small to mid-size businesses (SMB) therefore face the challenge of keeping their business secure, all the while adhering to the needs and expectations of the modern workforce.
The study uncovered the trends and expectations around mobile working, with over half (52 per cent) preferring to take a pay cut rather than being restricted to an office. A further 12 per cent would choose home working flexibility over a pay rise, even if they were offered an increase of 25 per cent. With businesses in a battle for the best talent, being able to attract workers with this ability to offer modern working practices will be vital. However, 38 per cent said they don’t receive the technological support or expertise they need when working from home or in a public place, which makes security an increasing issue for small businesses offering flexible working to solve.
“The 9-5 workplace is a thing of the past, and the employees entering the workforce today are demanding increased flexibility with hours, location, and personalised benefits,” said Kevin Chapman, SVP and general manager at Avast Business. “Whilst proven in some cases to increase employee satisfaction, and even productivity, there are very real security issues that need to be addressed. Businesses need to be in a position where they provide the tools that not only enable flexibility, but do so in a secure way. It’s also important not to forget those employees that would prefer to remain in a traditional office environment. A balance must be struck to enable all employees to work in a way that is most beneficial to them.”
Not only will SMBs be able to attract the best staff, but mobile working does appear to have other benefits. When employees of small businesses were asked about the benefits of being allowed to work remotely and remotely, over a third (34 per cent) said it made them happier, and 32 per cent claimed that it makes them enjoy their job. The research also found that it’s not just employee satisfaction that increases, but flexible working could also have a positive impact on quality of work and productivity; 38 per cent of employees claimed to be the most productive when working from home compared to 35 per cent who felt they were the most productive in the office.
Small businesses looking to adapt new working practices need to address the challenges raised in the report. If staff are accessing sensitive data or logging into business accounts through unsecured Wi-Fi, this puts the business at risk of an attack. There is also risk of a data breach should an employee save sensitive information to a desktop that then gets stolen, especially if passwords aren’t unique and complex. Small business owners need to provide security measures for mobile workers such as Virtual Private Network solutions for use on open Wi-Fi connections and anti-malware endpoint software for all employee Bring Your Own Device handsets and tablets. This should be coupled with ensuring that they are educating their employees on the very important role they have to play in the business’s security.
The report also notes there is an increasing trend towards mobile working, there is still a significant number of those who prefer the stability of basing themselves in an office. The study also found that levels of stress and anxiety in the workplace did not differ wildly whether an employee was office or home-based, suggesting that there should not be a one-size-fits all approach to mobile working.