Covid-19 fundamentally changed the way that businesses worked. 2020 saw enterprises move to at a minimum hybrid working and, in many cases, completely remote working models as cities and countries went into lockdown. Even as cities start to emerge from the pandemic, the hybrid working model is likely to be prevalent for some time. Essentially remote work is now just work.
The challenges of remote working
However, remote working has challenges. Gartner listed remote working as one number six of the top ten security and risk trends for 2021. According to the 2021 Gartner CIO Survey, 64% of employees are now able to work from home – two-fifths are actually doing so. Remote/home working was previously only an option available to senior executives or sales teams. Post pandemic, some companies are looking to move both front-office and back-office teams to permanent remote working. For example, Atlassian. Although they aren’t closing their offices, they told employees that they don’t have to return to them. Even car maker Ford is embracing a hybrid model. They asked workers in June 2020 what kind of model they would prefer and announced in March 2021 a hybrid work model globally for non-place dependent workers. Siemens announced in July 2021 that employees across 43 countries can telecommute two to three days.
Mobile phones and mobile messaging
One key piece of equipment for remote working is the mobile phone. It is partly the mobile phone that make it possible for employees to connect with customers regardless of where they are. the ability to be connected anywhere would be difficult if not impossible. Messaging applications like WhatsApp, WeChat, Signal, Telegram and so on have become increasingly popular as the way to communicate with contacts over mobiles. They are quick, easy, barrier-free and less formal than an email and less intrusive than a call.
Messaging application use increased exponentially during the pandemic – professionally as well as personally. In fact in the early days of the pandemic, there was a 51% increase in the overall volume of conversations between employees and customers. Pre-pandemic, most companies had a channel strategy of 70% phone and 30% instant messaging. At the onset of the pandemic, this was inverted. Digital channels have had an increase in traffic of between 200-300%.
Complications to the new work world
As the new “work” world settles in, IT teams must consider how to support these applications as secure remote working tools. There are a number of complications:
Conversations on these tools are often invisible to corporate security tools. IT teams have little to no visibility of what information employees share or what they say. They also cannot control or manage any files or data brought bring into the corporate environment through messaging applications. This poses a risk to the organization.
As the conversations on messaging applications are not inside corporate walls, if an employee loses or damages a phone or if an employee leaves, the conversations and any information shared is also lost to the enterprise. That can leave the enterprise open to not only security issues but reputational damage, regulatory and governance issues and potential legal action.
- Data Leakage
Due to the less formal nature of messaging applications, it is easy for an employee to accidentally share something that perhaps they shouldn’t. As there are no controls, processes, or protocols in place on a messaging application, particularly a personal account, there is not only no way to prevent this, but no alert to an enterprise if this form of breach has happened.
Collaboration is a challenge. Messaging applications – especially if they are personal accounts – are not connected to corporate collaboration tools. Remote workers must therefore swap between internal collaboration tools and messaging tools to process customer instructions. This opens the worker and the organization to errors, mistakes, and misinterpretations.
In addition, not every customer uses the same messaging application. A front-office worker may have to have multiple accounts and manage all these accounts. They must switch between these accounts, remembering which customer prefers which account. They also need to ensure that each application is up to date, perhaps backed-up and the contacts updated.
- Security and Malware
Finally – not all employees will have security and malware software on their mobile phones. This poses a risk, especially in a BYOD environment. It may be that in the course of their day-to-day non-work life that their phone becomes infected, and this could impact the enterprise through a messaging application conversation.
Solutions – processes and platform
LeapXpert’s Federated Messaging Orchestration Platform solves many of these issues.
As LeapXpert’s FMOP is a centralized platform, employees can communicate from a single place, regardless of the messaging application that the customer prefers. Enterprises can record and monitor conversations in real-time.
This solves the issue of a lost or damaged phone. Conversations are securely recorded and data on phones can be remotely wiped should there be a need.
As Gartner points out, the key to remote working is processes. With LeapXpert’s FMOP, enterprises can proactively put in place processes, rules and protocols for employee communications to messaging applications. These processes act in real-time. Restricted words, Data Loss Prevention, hierarchical rules and so on all help employees communicate within a protected framework. Alerts to admin in the event of a breach or event prevention of a message in some circumstance provide additional security for the organization. This happens at the actual time of the action rather than being discovered at a later date during an audit. IT has greater visibility of security trends and can better control and manage data and conversation flow.
Additionally, LeapXpert’s FMOP is interoperable with corporate security solutions to guard against malware and other security threats.
Process, visibility and real-time control
The real-time visibility, proactive processes and remote control of the centralized platform puts IT teams in control of remote workers who use messaging applications. LeapXpert’s FMOP makes messaging applications a more secure and visible channel of customer communications especially for remote workers.
To discover how LeapXpert is helping employees and enterprises securely transition to hybrid working models talk to one of our team.
If you want to learn more about the risks and rewards of BYOD read our blog