Activating the Digital Workforce: Evaluating Risks in Remote Work (Part Two)

For digital leaders in and outside of IT, the ability to preserve digital value creation during periods of turbulence is imperative—even more so given our unprecedented reliance on digital capabilities. The model for ways of working has transformed significantly over the last 20 years. Still, the COVID-19 crisis and sudden need for universal remote work have quickly exposed some core issues around digital risk management, supported by infrastructure bandwidth and online collaboration tools. In other words, many companies have not yet cracked the code on remote work from an operational and systems perspective. In this blog series, we’ll explore these challenges and their implications for digital leaders.

With a clear remote action plan as the starting point, digital leaders can help to maximize ongoing value creation by proactively identifying risks and potential disruptors to secure and seamless remote work. In this blog, we explore the core considerations that should be applied to evaluate and prioritize risks.

Outlining the Risks

Once you've identified the critical capabilities for your action plan, it's essential to understand the risks and necessary assessment items associated with each. The top considerations to help you evaluate risks include:

  1. Maintaining business as usual: The number one risk is not technical in nature; it’s the risk of your remote workers not being able to conduct business as usual. Use case scenarios must be identified, documented, and validated as a top priority. For example, we may understand how a remote salesperson conducts his or her business on-the-run, but do the stationary executive assistants have the tools they need to be successful in their daily work? What physical systems do they touch? What information do they routinely access for others? Can they answer a phone for an executive from home? Once we understand the use case scenarios, we can effectively plan for the toolsets which must be available remotely.
  2. Functionality: Remote users who are unable to access data and perform workflow-critical tasks can harm the bottom-line. Ensuring that these users can access files, run applications, and communicate with team members in a timely and uninterrupted manner is crucial. To achieve this, we must start with secure file access, fully functional applications, and high-speed network access using any available end-user computing device (PC, laptop, tablet, phone, etc.) and transport (wired, wireless, etc.). Then, by monitoring network bandwidth, application response times, and security parameters in real-time, we can quickly identify and remedy any problem areas.
  3. Security: It’s critical to apply a multifaceted security approach that enables seamless (yet secure) access to files within predefined parameters, logically separates the end-user device from the corporate resources, and provides a secure, collaborative multimedia environment. If your organization does not have a widely understood remote work policy, now is the time to write one, or revisit an existing policy that you can expand to cover long-term remote access and collaboration. Initially, it might be tempting to explore new technologies that seem more effortless in the short-term. Yet, you should stick with tried-and-true methodologies, monitor your existing infrastructure closely, and keep an eye on next-generation technology that solves for the remote worker problem set.

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Smarter Remote Risk Management Starts with Thorough Evaluation

Digital leaders know they play a central role in maximizing value creation for their knowledge workers. Achieving this aim starts by designing a comprehensive remote action plan that encompasses every facet of remote work—from application access to team enablement. Then, assess the dimensions of “business as usual,” functionality, and security to evaluate prospective risks and prioritize mitigation strategies. To determine your starting point, perform quick checks to zero in on immediate risks to seamless, secure remote work. This approach will shed light on the activities that you can take today to get ahead of tomorrow’s disruptions.

Please click here to read part one in our series.