A full-time return to office-based work looks highly unlikely, at least for the foreseeable future.
Prominent enterprises like Google, Apple, and Salesforce are pushing back their return-to-office deadlines or allowing permanent hybrid or remote work options altogether. Spurred on by fears of the COVID Omicron and other potential variants, employees are also "pushing back," saying they would rather leave their jobs than return to an office environment.
A Forbes article citing pollster Morning Consult data said the share of remote workers who would consider leaving their job if asked back to the office before they felt safe rose to 55% as of January 6, 2022, up from 45% just a week earlier. Also, more than four in 10 workers felt unsure about returning to the office, compared with 35% who said so on December 30, 2021.
According to Customer Contact Week, companies that buck the home working trend and require their employees to return to the office must employ safety measures that reduce the number of staff permitted in a given area to ensure safe social distancing. Any expectation that today’s office environment will resemble a 2019 pre-COVID culture is fantastical thinking at best.
Work at Home (WaH) Benefits
The shift to remote or hybrid work demands that contact centers and BPOs rethink their business continuity plans, but the benefits are worth the effort.
Being physically present in an office full-time doesn't necessarily mean employees produce good results. Quite to the contrary. Research shows that home workers are more motivated, more loyal, and more productive than their in-office counterparts. That's likely because home workers are less distracted and have a quieter, more comfortable workspace, enabling better focus and attention.
A two-year Stanford University study comparing the in-office employees to the remote employees of a Chinese travel company over nine months revealed that remote employees were 13% more productive — that’s almost an extra day of output per week. The same study also stated that remote workers were less inclined to leave the company in search of alternative jobs.
From a human resources standpoint, with competition for qualified agents at an all-time high, the ability to reach beyond a local geographic area expands the hiring pool tremendously, even globally. Companies can hire new agents based on their skills, not their ability to commute. Building a solid remote team also helps companies meet workforce diversity goals.
Think of BYOD as the cherry on top of the work-at-home sundae in that it provides a range of benefits in addition to those mentioned above.
For one, familiarity with their personal computers makes agents more productive and satisfied. The organization experiences reduced infrastructure and operating costs — hardware and software licensing expenditures drop drastically because there is no longer a need to purchase and deliver corporately-owned computers and resources. That results in reduced device management, less training, and shorter onboarding time.
It's clear that BYOD is beneficial to employees and organizations alike, but what if that cherry is sour? In other words, how feasible is it for organizations to maintain security and data protection at both the corporate and endpoint levels when employees use their personal devices?
Concerns include factors such as data leakage from unprotected or unmanaged devices, computers being lost or stolen, malware risks, and unauthorized access.
Securing BYOD Devices
Despite the "what if" security scenarios, now that WaH/BYOD is becoming the new norm, contact centers and BPOs must incorporate it into their operating system and business continuity planning. Companies must find ways to secure employee devices regardless of location — a responsibility typically shared between the organization and its employees.
That includes steps like:
- Defining a BYOD security policy.
- Making passwords mandatory on all BYOD devices.
- Blacklisting certain applications.
- Educating staff on security protocols.
- Requiring routine maintenance updates.
Other precautions are also necessary, such as ensuring device owner data and company data are kept separate and that employees can't deliberately or inadvertently move company data to their hard drive or another device.
Ideally, employees should only have a single point of access to the corporate network that operates like a tunnel they pass through that locks down the device's operating system, preventing access to it.
Secure Remote Worker (SRW) is a perfect example of this approach. It is a software-only Windows application that temporarily locks down the employee's device, providing secure BYOD and securely enabling work-at-home users to connect to a corporate environment.
SRW is also PCI DSS, HIPAA, and GDPR compliant and provides benefits like scalability, lower cost, and faster onboarding. Also, IT can easily manage, troubleshoot, and update software, profiles, and security settings across the entire BYOD network from a single console.
Book a demo to take a closer look at all the benefits Secure Remote Worker can offer your organization.