The COVID-19 Pandemic forced businesses around the world to let their employees work from home. A team from MIT surveyed about 25,000 American workers in late April, and about 34% reported that they had just started working remotely.
It is possible the percentage went a little higher in the months that followed as the virus spread, infected larger sections of the population, and authorities enforced lockdowns. The trend is also most likely the same around the world.
What COVID-19 has done, however, is to accelerate a trend that was already underway. It seems like some major employers already had plans to have a significant section of their staff work from home.
In May, Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg told The Verge that the tech company desired to be the most forward-leaning on matters to do with remote working. “Over the next five to 10 years, I think we could get to about half of the company working remotely permanently,” he stated.
The inspiration to have teams work away from the office is more than altruistic on the part of businesses. Indeed, working remotely is not only useful for controlling the spread of a contagious virus. It could also significantly cut operational costs and increase returns. For example, the company does not need to pay for extensive office space, electricity bills, and internet connections.
A study that was done by Amanda Pallais, Professor of Economics at Harvard University, and Alexandre Mas, Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton University, indicates that members of staff who work remotely are willing to take a cut of up to 8%. Meanwhile, their productivity can increase by up to 13%.
Of course, staff members benefit by having more time to spend with their families and have the flexibility to live where they like.
The channels of communication need to be secured.
However, for remote teams to be effective at what they do and the business to benefit in a meaningful way, they need various tools. Of course, they need conferencing, file sharing, and remote project management tools.
Also important, and indeed, at the top of the list is a virtual private network (VPN). This is a tool to help them secure communication and sharing of critical files over the internet.
Indeed, it is critical to learn how VPN works and what benefits it can give your virtual team and the entire business.
Every business has information that it needs to protect. It could be patents, product designs, plans, or just financial related details. If any of these types of information falls into the wrong hands, the business’s operations, as well as its resources, can be jeopardized.
When a team works together in the brick and mortar office, it could be enough for its members to have their computers protected through antivirus and firewall solutions. These security measures can adequately protect internal files and other resources from external intrusion.
A lot can go wrong when information is processed online.
When team members work remotely and from different locations, they need more than antivirus and antimalware security services. The channel of communication becomes as critical as the local computer system.
Indeed, having the data secured in the team members’ computers might be meaningless because all an attacker needs to do is monitor the communication channels (the internet) and hijack the information being shared.
The risk is even higher when some of the members choose to work from places where they use public WiFi such as in restaurants, coffee shops, or shared working spaces. These are places where a third party can easily sit across the room and access every file and piece of information leaving a target’s computer.
It is for this reason that remote teams need to use virtual private networks (VPN). The service encrypts the data before it leaves the device, and therefore anyone monitoring the communication cannot make sense of it.
In addition, the information is transmitted through a tunnel to a server that is in another location, where it is given a new IP address before being decrypted for the internet. This process confuses anyone who might be tracking the initial IP address to figure out the data’s destination.
That means that it is not easy for someone to follow it back to the sender when the information goes online.
Besides encrypting data and securing it from any eavesdroppers, the VPN service can also allow the team members to access resources that they could otherwise be denied because of their location.
While the internet makes the office unnecessary, the VPN provides the security found on a local area network firewalled from the wild west of the internet.