The Covid-19 pandemic, which resulted in lockdowns and office closures throughout the world, has expedited a radical re-evaluation in how businesses operate. With the advent of the ‘new normal,’ the need for efficient business continuity has never been greater and business leaders are united by concerns surrounding the future of the traditional workplace.
Although the majority of companies in the professional services sector would enthusiastically claim that they have adapted well to employees being obligated to work from home and that their technology is fully functional, the reality is that companies now have employees working across multiple locations without direct supervision and with varying standards and deficiencies of compliance checks and balances.
Progressive employers are applauded for treating their staff with a degree of mutual trust and respect by encouraging practices such as working from home and flexible hours. However, is there a risk of decreased productivity levels and data privacy breaches? As the corporate world adapts to the ‘new normal’, businesses need to invest in technology to mitigate risk and maintain a competitive advantage.
Technology solutions are being developed to monitor productivity and efficiency levels. Productivity software can monitor when an employee is active or online; it can even monitor keystrokes. It provides valuable information over and above simply asking employees to input their activities into reports or timesheets.
However, these technology solutions are not to be considered as big brother surveillance. Correctly applied, the purpose should be to monitor when an employee is most productive or when a client is most responsive; this intelligence can help employers dictate the workflows of the company and increase efficiency whilst providing a positive remote working environment. Technology can be an enabler of business improvement. The use of collaborative software in real-time can help companies better understand employees’ working routines, identify the most productive times of the day or if there is a need for extra shifts, which will be beneficial for companies in the long-term. This surveillance is in place for prevention and early detection of inappropriate or illegal behaviour, not censuring employees for productivity. It should be seen as a way of improving their working lives, whilst protecting an organisation and its employees.
Aside from managing capacity and productivity, organisations can use increasingly innovative technology solutions for information sharing. We are seeing a greater adoption of collaborative portals for exchanging documents and the use of project management software to track project milestones. Along with collaborative software, it is crucial to acknowledge the hard work of all team members, routinely check in with them and identify any employee challenges. Performance management technology solutions will help teams focus on the organization’s goal and create a culture in times where socializing in person is not possible.
As companies increasingly continue to harvest vast amounts of data, technology can be employed to replace manpower, not only for reasons of efficiency, but for accuracy, reliability and compliance.
In terms of compliance, and avoidance of security breaches, AI solutions will be key to how businesses operate in the future. Companies need to know where their data is and, for companies in the services industry, identifying who has access to confidential client data. Software needs to be streamlined, and legacy products erased. Moreover, who should be responsible for managing these technologies? For data privacy, it has traditionally been the IT department controlling the software and data maps, but given the commercial and reputational risks, it needs to be overseen by legal and compliance teams. Outlining responsibilities for managing technologies, mapping data and assigning a technical taskforce within the legal and compliance teams will be key to organizing the infrastructure for secure remote working.
Some simple measures could be undertaken as a first step towards securing an environment. Enabling multi-factor authentication, updating all security policies and ensuring all employees have up-to-date knowledge of such security policies are ways an organization can act swiftly to mitigate risk for security issues. Once these are in place, further network technologies such as VPN, endpoint protection and DDoS protection can be employed as safeguard measures to strengthen your network. However, standard static security solutions do not adapt to address the ever-changing security threats. AI systems and autonomous response technology can evolve, identify threats that may otherwise not be detected and intercede to stop attacks, protecting your organization and allowing operations to continue.
Compliance lawyers and technologists need to come together – FRA is working to build that bridge. This is what data solutions is all about.
Learn more about how to secure data and information in an ever changing cyber landscape in our recent webinar on maintaining business continuity during Covid-19. Watch the webinar on demand here.