Among other things, 2020 will be remembered as the year that remote work and collaboration finally took off. Fuelled by an unprecedented pandemic, working from home entered the mainstream for good.
This shift in work environments brought about many positive changes, especially for businesses. Even before Covid-19, companies with remote work policies were reaping the benefits, with greater profits, lower turnover rates and higher rates of overall team happiness.
On the surface, workers benefitted too. Who wouldn’t welcome a reprieve from lengthy commutes and working out of their PJs?
In practice, however, circumstances have been less than optimal for many. Uprooted from their daily routines and workplace social social interactions, people have to adjust to the unique rigours of working from home. Not everyone is equipped to deal with this.
Working from home has revealed several hidden costs that businesses should consider. These include heightened security risks, increased financial burdens as well as some psychological and physical repercussions. Here are why these are important and what can be done to mitigate them.
1. Heightened security risks
When your team members are working away from the office, your company is more susceptible to security breaches. Without supervision, employees tend to use unsecure mobile devices on their personal network, leaving them vulnerable to hackers digging for sensitive information.
The statistics are revealing. Research shows that between March and July 2020, nearly half of companies experienced a data breach or security incident, with half of these attacks being caused by phishing attacks.
Outside of fraudulent emails and phone calls, collaboration tools have become a favourite access point for hackers. Considering how important these tools have become for out-of-office productivity, this is quite concerning. Between Q1 and Q4 2020, there was a 768% increase in remote desktop protocol attacks!
Why does this happen? Remote employees don’t always have immediate access to the IT team and forget to check in with them when they find themselves in a pickle. In the office, it’s easier to reach out and receive help.
The biggest culprit, however, is the lack of work from home protocols. For the sake of productivity and limiting expenses, many companies skip steps and put themselves at risk.
To avoid this, companies need to be more proactive – for example, have separate devices for personal and company use. Make sure that everyone is on the same page and aware of the risks when working remotely. Education is also key – here are some tips and best practices you can follow to protect your company’s privacy.
If you want to go a step further, it’s a good idea to invest in a paid VPN.
2. Increased financial burdens
When you’re working from home, it’s natural to assume that you’re saving money. Many employers seem to think so. With no commute, less is being spent on gasoline and lunches, to name a few expenses. But the reality is more complicated. Here’s why.
During the pandemic, many employees could not bring home equipment that they use in the office (i.e., monitor, printer). On top of that, they had to buy additional equipment to set up a home office, as not everyone had a dedicated space.
Combine these work expenses with your ongoing monthly costs (such as air conditioning) and it can all add up rather quickly. The worst part is that companies are not compensating workers for these additional financial burdens and instead, exacerbating the situation by slashing their paychecks.
The solution is two-fold:
- Companies should find ways to minimize a worker’s personal expenses when they’re on the clock. For example, provide them with a company phone instead of having them use their personal device for work-related calls. Provide reasonable deductions for home office expenses where feasible.
- Provide extra leeway or alternative solutions for unexpected variables such as internet outages. No one wants to be held responsible for lost productivity when the circumstances are beyond their control.
3. A psychological and physical toll
Not only is there a financial cost to remote work and collaboration, but there are ramifications for people’s physical and mental well-being.
Working from home has blurred the boundaries between our personal and professional lives, asking us to remain productive while contending with additional distractions (i.e., children). Finding a productive workspace where one can focus and be productive can be difficult.
Humans are social creatures and not automated machines – being physically separate from your colleagues leaves a void. Collaborative solutions, where you connect through video or a call, can only do so much.
Moreover, not everyone’s home setup is ideal when it comes to ergonomics, leading to physical discomfort. It’s not uncommon for people to report soreness in the back, shoulder and/or neck. After all, remote workers move less frequently than their office counterparts, the latter of whom walk to meetings, the washroom or chat with their teammates.
Left unchecked, we run the risk of burning out mentally and physically. The solution starts at the company level. Many organizations can take for granted how much working and collaborating remotely can impact their staff’s well-being. Here are some effective strategies for companies to follow and get their employees back to their most productive selves.
If you need help optimizing your out-of-office productivity or just choosing a remote collaboration solution, the experts at Momentum Conferencing have you covered. We are vendor agnostic and offer a wide range of options. Give us a call today or drop us an email.