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Hybrid operations are becoming an increasingly prevalent part of the business landscape. Certainly, this offers some fantastic opportunities for companies to reduce overhead costs and gain access to international talent. Yet, there are some distinct challenges hybrid workforces face, too.
Key among these is the potential for cybersecurity issues to arise. When you have some employees working from the office and others operating remotely, a range of vulnerabilities may arise — not to mention that there may be hurdles to staff interacting effectively. So, let’s take a look at how team collaboration tools and cybersecurity measures can safeguard your hybrid workforce.
Identifying and addressing relevant threats
There are few businesses today that aren’t vulnerable to some form of cyber threat. However, the risks tend to depend on the specific business model. As a result, it’s important to first gain an understanding of the prevalent risks related to hybrid workplaces. This enables you to more effectively collaborate and develop safeguards.
For hybrid businesses, a range of network security threats have the potential to disrupt operations and cause data breaches. These include:
- Malware. These malicious software or firmware programs usually enter a network when a person unintentionally downloads them after clicking a link or attachment. Depending on the type of malware, this can give hackers remote access to networks or capture data about network activity, alongside infecting other devices on the network. It’s important to ensure hybrid staff have malware detection software on both business and personal devices that they use to connect to company networks. In addition, you must give them training on how to avoid triggering malware downloads.
- Phishing. Social engineering attacks, like phishing, can be a challenging issue. These tactics are designed to skirt your security software by getting information or network access directly from your human workers. This may involve criminals posing as legitimate businesses or official entities and directing workers to cloned websites where they’ll be requested to enter sensitive information. You can mitigate this type of issue by monitoring network traffic to spot unusual activity, as well as educating staff on the details of these methods. Even if criminals gain passwords by these methods, setting up multi-factor authentication can limit how useful they are to hackers.
That said, alongside the common threats, it’s important to get to know and address the issues with your specific hybrid business. Talk to your staff about their day-to-day working practices and the potential points of vulnerability. Discuss remote workers’ home network setups to establish whether there are end-to-end safeguards in place to prevent unauthorized access to networks. You can then collaborate on arranging additional equipment or protocols — such as access to an encrypted virtual private network (VPN) — that protect both the business and workers’ home equipment.
Utilizing collaborative tools
Effective collaboration is essential for all hybrid businesses. This isn’t just a matter of maintaining productivity. When employees have the right tools in place to work together effectively, this can mitigate human error that both disrupts the workflow and can lead to security issues. Not to mention that the satisfaction that comes from meaningful collaboration may encourage workers to commit to acting in the best interests of their colleagues, including remaining vigilant of vulnerabilities.
Therefore, it’s wise to adopt collaboration tools that strengthen team unity and productivity wherever employees are working. Some of the elements you should focus on here include:
- Project management platforms. This software, such as Asana and Wrike, allows you and your team to track the progress of project tasks. They enable everyone connected to see what needs to be completed, who is responsible for each task, and how each task relates to overall goals. Not only does this allow for better organization and staying on track of deadlines, but it also promotes transparency among all team members.
- Communication software. Hybrid teams can collaborate more effectively if they have centralized and clear channels of contact with all members. Hub software, like Microsoft Teams and Slack, can offer video conferencing, direct messaging, and audio calls on a single platform. This supports more practical project interactions and team-building activities, as well as a method for quickly alerting colleagues to security issues.
It’s also important to be highly selective about the collaborative tools you integrate into the hybrid workflow. The platforms you use must be easy for your teams to use productively and safely. It’s always worth testing these with your teams before fully adopting them. In addition, you should pay close attention to the security support provided with each platform. Look for encryption protocols when exchanging sensitive information and ensure any integration with cloud platforms is backed by password processes.
Providing effective training
Getting the most out of both your collaborations and cybersecurity measures isn’t just dependent on the tools you adopt. Rather, one of the best resources you have at your disposal is effective training. Commit to regularly educating your employees on remote and in-office behaviors that can safeguard the business and their activities. Help them to gain skills that make them valuable team members as well as security-conscious contributors to mutual digital well-being.
Indeed, utilizing your collaborative tools to hold training sessions can be a more engaging approach and ensures everyone gains from each participant’s perspectives on the challenges they face. Remember to measure the success of each training session, too. Use surveys and interviews to see what hybrid employees found effective about the training or what they felt were hurdles to participation. Use this, alongside hard data about ongoing security issues, to make relevant adjustments to your training methods moving forward.
When adopting hybrid operations, it’s important to take measures that enhance the benefits of collaboration while minimizing the cybersecurity risk. Gaining a thorough understanding of the risks and addressing these, alongside investing in collaboration tools and training are solid steps. Additionally, it’s useful to collaborate with a network of other hybrid businesses and cybersecurity experts to stay on top of the evolving challenges. The more effectively you can work with others both within and outside of your company, the better chance your enterprise has to thrive.