There’s a sense that, when employees work from home, your IT team loses an element of control. Without a physical IT presence, staff may be more prone to taking shortcuts, and less likely to attend to the basic maintenance of devices and systems.
And of course, most of your employees aren’t IT experts, but that lack of knowledge and experience can no longer be used as an excuse when addressing human errors.
Some of them will only have the most basic knowledge of the devices they use every day. Whether in sales, marketing, finance or HR, remote employees are likely to need IT support as often at home as they do in the office. Without a physical IT team to call on, they may lose valuable work time or be more inclined to attempt to resolve issues alone, potentially making problems worse.
The consequences of human error
“Human error could lead to damaging consequences for your business”
In other words, without the proper support in place, IT issues have the potential to make remote work more stressful and less productive. At the same time, human error could lead to damaging consequences for your business.
For example, with employees working away from the office, how do you know they’re sticking to security protocols, or only using approved applications? How do you know they’re updating software as soon as patches become available?
Unpatched hard- and software is more vulnerable to cyberattacks. The kind of consumer-grade or “freemium” apps that remote staff install as an easy workaround or shortcut – or because they already use them on personal devices – might not be secure enough for corporate use.
And as you’re probably aware, the number of phishing attacks has massively increased since the start of the pandemic and the wide adoption of cloud based communication platforms. Without IT teams looking over their shoulder, remote staff may be more likely to click an untrustworthy link or fall for a well designed scam email.
The cost of mistakes
These common human factors could be costly for your business and in some cases, they could be calamitous. Estimates vary, but one common calculation of the average cost of successful cyber attacks on small businesses is £11,000. According to some reports, 60% of small businesses go under within six months of a cyber breach.
“60% of small businesses go under within six months of a cyber breach”
This is one end of the scale of remote IT challenges. At the other are thousands of employees struggling with slow connections, or upgrades that won’t install, or devices that simply won’t do what they’re supposed to do.
The accumulated cost to business of IT issues like these is £3.4 billion a year in lost productivity, according to one report. The same research found that employees spend over one day a month on average trying to fix IT issues. With more and more staff working from home, that figure is likely to rise.
Human error prevention
So how do you ensure that your own remote teams are not beset with the kind of IT issues that drive down productivity and can even threaten the future of your business?
Good IT training is crucial in reducing human error in the workplace, and it should focus first on cybersecurity. Teach employees about the particular risks of remote work, with regular refresher sessions and alerts to cover information on the latest phishing attacks and email scams. Make sure every employee knows and employs two factor authentication (where available) and password best practice. Produce written guidelines on the management system, devices and apps that are sanctioned for use, and any that definitely aren’t.
“Good IT training is crucial, and it should focus first on cybersecurity”
And hybrid working – with employees regularly moving between their homes and the office – increases the risk of lost or stolen laptops. Make sure you have policies in place to cover just such an eventuality. Think about implementing remote data wiping for all company devices that leave the office.
Remote IT support
For more everyday issues, make sure that members of the IT team are always available, and give every employee contact details for a manned support desk. If employees can get their issues solved easily, they’ll be less likely to go it alone.
It’s also true that the better you equip employees for remote or hybrid work, the less likely they are to run into IT challenges. For example, a cloud-hosted unified communications system lets your hybrid workers take their complete office communications and collaboration system home with them. That means they can continue to use the secure, all-in-one solution they’re familiar with wherever they are, without having to switch software or download separate apps or services.
“The better you equip employees for remote or hybrid work, the less likely they are to run into IT challenges”
By making the transition to remote or hybrid work seamless, solutions like MCloud Flex reduce calls to your IT support desk and drive productivity.
A good IT provider will also support your home-worker solutions remotely, taking pressure off your IT team and freeing it up for tricker issues. At Unicomm, our involvement in your solution doesn’t end when it’s up and running. Depending on your need and in-house resources, we can build a support package that will take a lot of IT support legwork off your hands. For example, we can take care of software updates, database issues and interfaces with other systems, as well as troubleshooting network issues.
Left to their own devices, remote workers can make entirely preventable mistakes that reduce your operational efficiency and might even leave you more vulnerable to cyberattack. Effective remote IT support is crucial, alongside tools and services that were designed for a new world of nomadic work.
Here at Unicomm, the more we can do, the better for your business. So, get in touch today and discover how we can help secure your operations and prevent simple human errors from derailing your organisation.