Home workers – managing the risk

The reason behind this? Apparently, having staff together under one roof (well, quite a few one roofs), will encourage better team working and communication.

Vodafone has now piled in to say that, having surveyed 500 UK decision makers, they believe that the cost of a desk in an office is £5,746 a year, which could add up to a significant saving. Vodafone suggests £34bn a year, which may be influenced by the fact that remote working does a mobile network no harm!

Home working – what to consider

Having said that, if a business does want to allow home working, do they just need to worry about secure server access and productivity? Or is there more to take into account?

Some areas that may need to be considered include ensuring:

  • Compliance with legislation, both statutory and regulatory and the ability to detect risks promptly
  • Compliance with company policies
  • Asset register – who is working where on what equipment, connection, use of personal devices for work etc.
  • And, of course, network security

In many ways, it is an extension of your management of the business across multiple sites, perhaps going from 100 large to adding a further 1000 single user sites. That might need some new systems to manage all that risk!

Potential benefits

However, there are also other benefits beyond the potential cost saving that Vodafone suggests.

Home working may be part of your disaster recovery plan, with key functions identified that could be prepared for home working in the event of major incidents or severe weather. While it wouldn’t work for your data centre of course, it could be an option for other vital tasks and decision makers.

It can also boost productivity, as workers spend less time in meetings, and more on delivery, as well as staff motivation, with greater flexibility and “family-friendly” working time.

What does the future hold?

Is Yahoo! Taking the right course of action? They’re certainly bucking a trend, potentially adding cost into the business and, by all accounts, antagonising those employees affected. They may well be gaining more control. Whether it will improve communications remains to be seen – even businesses with every employee under one roof still have room for improvement on that front, so I’m still to be convinced.

Working patterns are changing – the workforce is becoming more global, technology makes it easy for teams to comprise individuals in many different counties to easily work together in a virtual environment, allowing companies to select the best talent, wherever they may be, and take into account how and where they want to work.

I suspect home working is here to stay and will grow, so would suggest the task is more how to manage the associated risks, rather than block it as an option.