Secure Your Organisations Remote Workforce

Last week, Leo Varadkar - Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment, published the results of a public consultation on a legal framework that allows employees the right to request to work remotely.

The legislation, aims to strengthen the rights and responsibilities of employers and employees in regards to remote working. It will also set out a clear framework to facilitate remote work and blended options.

In a statement released by Leo Varadkar, he notes that, "Working from home has become the norm for many in 2020. We want remote, blended and flexible working arrangements a much bigger part of life after COVID-19. We’ve seen that there can be huge benefits – more flexibility, less commuting, more time for family and friends. It’s better for transport emissions, and for quality of life, but it has to be done right. Employment rights need to be updated, we need to give guidance, and in many cases, we need to provide actual physical working space. It also requires a cultural shift in favour of facilitating it as an option. This Plan shows how we will bring all those parts together. I think it will make a real difference to people’s working lives."

The Results of the Public Consultation on Remote Work

A total of 175 submissions were received over the course of the consultation. The majority of which came from employed individuals and organisations.

The respondents had the opportunity to answer questions and state their points on each matter including the length of time people should be employed before requesting remote work and considerations if employers decline a remote working request.

The data gathered revealed that employers believed staff should serve a minimum of 12 month in the office prior to requesting remote work. This would ensure that the employee has an adequate opportunity to integrate themselves into the business and create the necessary relationships with colleagues to gain a better understanding of the organisation's culture.

85% of respondents were in favour of employers bearing the cost of equipment to facilitate remote working and any maintenance costs involved. And interestingly, 12% of respondents suggested the Government should introduce a grant or tax incentive for remote working, similar to the current Cycle-to-Work scheme.

In terms of policies, 84% of respondents felt employers should have a remote policy in place that can be inspected by the Workplace Relations Commission.

On the risks of remote work, 44% of respondents noted that they were not confident in carrying a risk assessment in their employees' remote workplace. More than half of respondents said comprehensive health and safety guidelines would help raise the confidence of employees and organisations.

The Drawbacks of Remote Working

While working from home yields many benefits, it does bring with it substantial drawbacks. In addition to issues with health and safety risks, there are also risks in terms of cyber security.

We have seen these cyber security drawbacks over the past year when the pandemic caused a sudden push for organisations to implement remote working in their business. At that stage, organisations had little time to prepare for the sudden change and it brought about several challenges including an increase in cyber security incidents.

Remote Working - An Opportunity to Exploit

Employees working remotely, whether it be full time or on hybrid basis, can give cyber criminals the opportunity to exploit vulnerabilities in a more widespread fashion, if the correct security controls aren’t in place or are misconfigured.

Sometimes all it takes is a single employee falling for a phishing scam for an entire organisation's infrastructure to be breached and held to ransom by a cyber criminal.

It is due to this, that cyber security should be a top priority for all organisations whether adopting a remote approach or not. Cyber security incidents can happen in any setting but the risk is increased with both a remote or hybrid workforce.

Secora Consulting - Remote Working at its Core

Secora Consulting was founded with remote working central to its operations. We have extensive knowledge of what it takes to create a robust cyber security posture for employees working remotely. Over the years, we have helped numerous clients move their operations into the cloud while ensuring the security of data and privacy is central to the migration process.

In our guide, ‘Securing Your Organisation's Remote Workforce’, we offer insight into what organisations and employees need to do to create a robust cyber security posture for remote and hybrid working options.


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