Vaccine rollout in the United States is going fairly well. Some states like Virginia have vaccinated close to 41% of their population, meaning that in some areas, we are halfway to reaching the levels needed for herd immunity. While the pandemic is still ongoing, and precautions are still necessary, many decision makers are looking to plan for a post-COVID future. What was originally thought to be a month long shutdown, a temporary state, has evolved into a year long cultural shift that is sure to leave an indelible impact on our way of life. Or perhaps everything will go back to normal–there’s no way of being certain. Some environmentalists point to the impact climate change has on the emergence of novel viruses as a reason to believe that the coronavirus may not be the last major pandemic in the lifetime of Millennials and Generation Z.
With this uncertainty over what the future holds, the economy seems to be split on the question of whether employees should return to in-person work at all. Major tech companies like Facebook and Google have already announced that a percentage of their workforce will continue to work remotely. Workers themselves seem to prefer remote work as an option–54% of people currently working remotely want to continue the arrangement after the pandemic ends–and research hasn’t shown a definitive drop in productivity. In fact, some studies suggest that post-pandemic remote work could create a 5% boost to overall productivity. Workers take fewer sick days, office spaces can be downsized to save on rent, and corporate expenditures on making the office bearable can be eliminated.
On the other side, working from home creates undeniable cybersecurity risks for an organization. Workers who aren’t digitally literate are more likely to take risky actions without their colleagues in IT to watch over them. In fact, almost 20% of data breaches over the past year were due to worker negligence. If organizations cannot develop a robust cybersecurity program to train their remote workers, it may bring more harm than good.
Ultimately, the decision to allow remote work is one that is unique to each organization. There are tangible benefits to allowing the practice to continue, along with moral improvements and increased retention rates to consider. However, it’s still important to keep cybersecurity in mind. Without it, you put your organization at risk.