It goes without saying that the outbreak of COVID-19 has posed significant challenges to our workplace productivity. Replacing face-to-face meetings with video calls, getting access to files saved on one central server and finding the best spot in the house for a reliable WiFi connection – we’ve all faced our own unique, but important challenges. As firms grapple with the best ways to enhance productivity for remote workers, those that have quickly (or had already) adopted more digital ways of working are being held up as glimmers of hope, showcasing how it is possible to find new and more productive ways of working.
Of course, like with anything else, the first step is to be prepared. As it stands, it’s clear not all organisations are equipped with the necessary infrastructure and support to be productive outside of the office. Put simply, not all businesses have been able to smoothly transition to this new way of working, whilst others who thought they had the right infrastructure in place forgot to think about the other half of the puzzle: security. As we approach World Productivity Day (20th June), now is the perfect moment to consider everything we’ve learnt so far about remote working, and how to improve it for a more flexible future. For businesses looking to embrace remote working for the longer term, it’s important to understand what technologies are needed to redefine productivity as we know it. Whilst the cloud-based office seems like the obvious solution, businesses need to be careful to avoid the most common pitfalls when adopting this technology.
Walk before you can run
For maximum productivity, you need to get the basics right. This means that in the same way you would equip an office with the infrastructure needed to support hundreds of employees working safely, you need to do the same for the new, virtual office.
A cloud-based office is the perfect platform for storing data in separate and secure locations. In fact, when it comes to scalability, security and capability, there is no other infrastructure that can meet the cloud’s capabilities. For your cloud office, I’d recommend ensuring you work with an independent vendor, like AWS, to host on an independent OS. This is because with end-to-end encryption, it is possible to put some space between your critical backups and potential cyber-attacks or ransomware that could look to target your server or cloud-based systems.
But, more often than not, when it comes to the cloud, many organisations make the mistake of storing data in the same service and OS that operates core aspects of their business, such as Microsoft Office365. The whole point of backing up data is to ensure that a duplicate source of this data is available should a primary version be compromised. By storing data on a separate OS and in a different, unconnected location, it is possible to keep it, and thus your organisation, protected.
A secure approach
There is a common misconception in the business world that deploying Microsoft Office365 is the perfect solution to keeping data secured safely and remotely, because it is located ‘in the cloud’. Contrary to popular opinion, this is a dangerous and incorrect mindset. Office365 as a platform, arguably contains some of the most significant data protection gaps that IT professionals are tasked with handling. A robust backup solution should get the basics right; it should automate backups regularly with runbook execution for rapid recovery, offer capabilities to safeguard business continuity and support processes to meet compliance requirements.
There have been many examples of cyber-attacks over the past couple of months. For attack victims, files often end up corrupted or deleted. In applications like Office365, if your files get deleted, your IT team is forced to manually recover each individual file, a laborious task that by no means enhances workplace productivity. While the suite provides tools that can support in protecting against these types of attacks, they are actually more focused on stopping the attacks in the first place as opposed to assisting in recovering from the damage caused following an attack. Remember, by migrating your workforce to the cloud and relying on Office365, it exposes your data to risk and new vulnerabilities.
Whilst it might be too early to tell what kind of an impact our new ways of working have had on the UK’s overall productivity, it’s never too early to start thinking about ways to help your workforce. Ultimately, it’s important to keep things simple and seamless. This means understanding that if your security is not up to scratch, you are opening yourself up to a potential attack. The repercussions of such a cyber-attack include large volumes of work for the IT teams to recover and repair the damage caused, as well as value-add time lost on more proactive tasks that could be being worked on (in addition to potential reputation management). If like many organisations, you’re considering how to make a cloud-based office the norm, make sure you have security at the front of the agenda. Get this right, and this could be a transformative time for your business.