August 24, 2021

Preserving Information Security in a Hybrid Work Environment

As COVID-19 persists, businesses are once again thinking through the best ways to drive productivity while keeping their employees safe. Enter the hybrid work model—an emerging workforce strategy that involves a combination of on-site and remote work arrangements. A company may offer a range of hybrid work options, depending on the needs and nature of the workforce. For example, employees may split their time between in-person office settings and remote work locations, or certain employees may only work remotely while others may only work in the office.
Hybrid work environments are gaining popularity. A recent Microsoft survey shows that more than 80% of chief information security officers work in organizations that have started or already have a hybrid work environment. According to predictions by Forrester, remote work (either on its own or as part of a hybrid model) will continue after the COVID-19 crisis wanes, at around 300% of pre-pandemic levels. Employees are now actively seeking jobs that offer hybrid arrangements. Almost half of employees (47%) will likely look for a new job if their employer doesn’t adopt a flexible working model after the pandemic ends.
From an employee health perspective, companies can reduce the chances of viral transmission by limiting the number of people in the office at any one time, keeping employees safe while curbing absenteeism.
Although a hybrid model can check many boxes for safety, productivity, and employee satisfaction, there are risks to these arrangements, especially from a data security standpoint. To take advantage of the potential benefits while mitigating the risks, consider implementing the following strategies.
Provide regular refreshers on data security policies. With employees carrying laptops, cell phones, tablets, and paper documents back and forth between locations, the risk of data theft and loss increases, which could put your company at risk. As you set up or refine a hybrid model, take time to remind staff of their information security responsibilities and reinforce how they can help protect sensitive information. Some things to cover include:

  • The importance of password hygiene—using suitably complex passwords, keeping them confidential, and changing them regularly
  • The dangers of phishing, how to recognize it, and what to do when an employee receives a suspicious email or text
  • How to properly dispose of unnecessary paper, especially documents that have confidential and proprietary information
  • The value of keeping a clean desk at work and at home to prevent information loss and theft 

Have multiple layers of cybersecurity. The more electronic safeguards you have, the less likely you will experience a data breach. Critical protections should include multi-factor authentication, data encryption, firewalls, and robust antivirus software that automatically updates as new threats appear. By thinking through various cybersecurity measures and helping employees protect their office and home computer systems, you can mitigate risk while enabling easier data sharing between locations.
Facilitate secure document disposal. Although many companies are moving toward paperless operations, there is still a lot of paper generated during the workday. Staff should know what to do with documents they no longer need, whether working from home or in the office. Professional shredding is the safest document destruction strategy. By scheduling periodic shredding events with a licensed document destruction company like Shred-It®, you can be confident that all important paper is properly destroyed. We use industrial-grade, cross-cut shredders to transform paper documents into small, confetti-like pieces, which cannot be reconstructed, thus limiting the chances of theft. Express and priority services are available, where you can choose either two- or five-day shredding service. You can also set up recurring pickups to help keep paper waste under control over time.
Hybrid work environments are here to stay. By implementing a multifaceted data protection strategy, you can offer flexible work arrangements and be assured that your sensitive information will remain secure. Learn more about how Shred-It can help in the transition to a hybrid model.