Ensure security and collaboration thrive in the hybrid working era

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iStock Small and medium sized businesses can cut costs and drive growth by adopting remote working – but increasingly sophisticated cyber attackers can exploit these new practices.To read this article in full, please click here
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Small and medium sized businesses can cut costs and drive growth by adopting remote working – but increasingly sophisticated cyber attackers can exploit these new practices.

The trend toward hybrid working is now well established, with employees largely showing positive sentiment toward a mode of work that enables greater flexibility and eases the strain of issues such as caregiving and commuting.

According to Cisco’s Global Hybrid Work Study 2022, a large majority of employees across all age groups believe that the ability to work remotely has improved their wellbeing and boosted productivity. Unsurprisingly, nearly three-quarters (71.2%) want hybrid working to continue. Among small and medium sized businesses, just 27% expect their staff to work full-time in an office or other workplace during the next five years.

However, cyber criminals can potentially exploit the new working model which involves staff logging on from almost anywhere using a multitude of devices. In fact, 15% of European security decisionmakers say their organisation falls short when it comes to addressing the risks of remote working, according to Foundry’s 2023 Security Priorities study

To ensure that hybrid working really does drive business success, leaders must think carefully about how technology can galvanize teamwork while maintaining robust cyber defences. Research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development in the UK suggests that increased investment in high-quality technology is the single most popular initiative being undertaken by organisations to support remote working. 

Companies looking for remote working solutions typically need to examine their requirements in five broad areas.

Quality of experience

Your employees and clients could be joining meetings from anywhere: from a factory or a call centre, a home office or coffee shop. Look for a solution that offers the best quality audio and video, automatic noise reduction, bandwidth optimisation and one-touch connections for mobile users. Depending on your business model, additional functionality could be useful, including real-time translation, closed captions and the ability to hold events.

Security

Remote working involves employees accessing your company’s systems from beyond your network perimeter. The risks associated with this include phishing, identity theft, data breaches and weak identity management. Cisco supports remote working with customised solutions drawn from a comprehensive portfolio of security, collaboration and networking products that offer best-in-class threat protection, market-leading performance and highly competitive pricing. These include: 

Remote management: firewalls, VPNs, remote device control. 
DNS Security: a powerful way to block malicious domains.
Endpoint management: understand the user experience in detail. 
Multi-factor authentication: the foundation for zero-trust security policies.

 

The home working environment

You can’t assume that your employees have high-speed broadband connections and hardware that’s fit for purpose. Look for the right options to support employees including add-on webcams, secure wireless networking and devices custom-made for collaboration.

Office environment

Will your office-based employees collaborate with remote employees on laptops or in the more focused environment of a meeting room dedicated to virtual interaction? If  telephony is an important part of your business, it may be worth considering upgraded hardware, which can drive significant productivity improvements.  Alternatively, if reimagining the office environment is on the agenda, it’s worth researching options for the hybrid workplace.

Managing your solution

SMBs need to bear in mind the need for solutions that make the job of managing remote working simple and effective. Focus on finding easy-to-use solutions that deliver exceptional work experiences.

The ideal remote working solution will offers reliable connectivity, consistent levels of security and simple, effective, management options.

Learn more about Cisco’s offerings here

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