Remote working, which includes home working, is on the rise according to the results of a survey by information security company, Imation Corp.
The survey found that 96% of businesses across the UK and Germany now permit their staff to work remotely. And an overwhelming 98% said it is advantageous to their business.
It also found that remote working has increased employee motivation due to greater flexibility (62%), and led to increased productivity as employees can work from multiple locations (61%).
The flexibility of remote working practices enables employees to work from numerous locations, with the most common methods of remote working being: home working (62%); BYOD (Bring Your Own Device, 51%) and VDI (Virtual desktop infrastructure, 46%). On top of this, around a third (32%) of respondents’ organisations have employees that are working from client sites.
Despite the shift in attitude, data breaches and business costs are still among the biggest concerns for organisations when weighing up the value of remote working, with nine in ten (92%) organisations highlighting that remote working causes challenges or concerns.
A third of respondents stressed data security as a top fear when considering remote working practices. Over half (54%) are worried about data losses through misplaced devices, whilst 61% fret about insider threats, and the potential for employees to expose the organisation to the risk of a data breach or loss.
These concerns are hardly surprising given that 42% of organisations also admitted that they are unable to keep track of what data employees take with them away from the office – with employees still using potentially unsecure methods such as printing information out on paper (31%) and emailing files to themselves (27%).
Despite the growing popularity of remote working, around four in ten (41%) of respondents’ organisations do not currently have a remote working policy that covers IT security considerations – and only 21% of organisations enforce, or plan to enforce their remote working policy via IT processes. This is worrying when taking into account that 67% of organisations believe their employees are breaking the organisation’s security rules in order to work remotely.
There also appears to be a lack of basic security measures, with over half (54%) of respondents agreeing that the data employees take away from the office could be more adequately secured.
Nick Banks, vice president EMEA and APAC, at IronKey, a part of Imation Corp., said: "Whilst making remote working available to a larger number of employees has its benefits, the cost and risks associated still make it a difficult route for many organisations to tread. Businesses are unaware of the amount, and type, of data leaving the office, yet they are well aware that employees are regularly breaking the rules in order to take work home. Inadequate security, combined with the naivety surrounding the protection of corporate data, is putting organisations at risk of a data breach.
“It is important for companies to embrace mobile working, but managing the security of data on the move and ensuring there are policies in place to protect it, the employees, and the organisations who own it, should be a priority for anyone considering remote working."