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Taking the commute out of the picture just might make for more diverse teams.
30 June, 2020
- Tech giants, including Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon, have already stated they'll be adapting company policies to allow for more remote working.
- In the business software and tech infrastructure sectors, which are more in-demand than ever, it seems likely that recruiting will resume quickly, with companies seeking to fill specifically remote positions.
- The tech sector has long suffered from a diversity problem, and remote working fosters a better culture of inclusivity.
<p>As the coronavirus pandemic has gripped the world, remote working has become a necessity for many of us. According to <a href="https://news.gallup.com/poll/306695/workers-discovering-affinity-remote-work.aspx" target="_blank">Gallup research</a> published in April, 62 percent of employed Americans said they had been working from home during the crisis, double the percentage that responded similarly in March.</p><p>Now that many countries and US states are pushing to implement a "new normal," it seems that remote working is likely to become far more prevalent even once it's no longer required. Tech giants, including Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon, have <a href="https://www.cnet.com/news/the-new-work-from-home-policies-at-facebook-twitter-apple-and-more/" target="_blank">already stated</a> they'll be adapting company policies to allow for more remote working.</p><p>"Many companies are learning that their workers are just as or even more productive working from home," Andy Challenger, senior vice president of staffing firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, <a href="https://eu.usatoday.com/story/tech/2020/05/22/coronavirus-remote-work-post-pandemic/5242420002/" target="_blank">told USA Today</a>. </p><p>Employers are also realizing the benefits of having a more remote workforce. Corporate real estate in prime locations such as San Francisco and New York is expensive, and the big tech firms have historically offered employees a host of amenities, including on-site subsidized cafes, gyms and valet parking. One benefit of having employees work from home is the potential to reduce some of these overheads. </p>
<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQyNzg5OC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwMzk2MjQxMH0.MOEKYzEPLCpLnBwLcS74AYNeEoZoHuXH6U1zvO9lHMY/img.png?width=980" id="fe397" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="3208e67bfe22c0aa69e68c708c4cfc23" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Gallup panel chart showing rise in remote working from March 13 to April 2." />
A bigger talent pool<p>About <a href="https://www.matrixres.com/tech-trend/9-out-10-hiring-managers-struggle-find-tech-talent" target="_blank">86 percent of hiring managers</a> have said they've struggled to find qualified tech talent. By widening their hiring activities beyond the major city hubs, employers will find they can reach a far bigger pool of available candidates.</p><p>A qualified candidate living in one of the flyover states or rural America may not want or be able to relocate to the bigger cities. Until now, that's meant that these people have been largely excluded from the market. The ability to work remotely means a tech firm can capture this talent. Critically, employers benefit from this vastly increased talent pool without increasing their cost base. </p><p><a href="https://joonko.co/" target="_blank">Joonko</a>, a hiring platform used by leading tech firms like Intuit, PayPal, and Atlassian, recently <a href="https://finance.yahoo.com/news/diversity-recruiting-startup-joonko-launches-172219079.html" target="_blank">announced the rollout</a> of its Remote-Ready planner tool, aimed at helping firms recruit remote talent, more inclusively. "Employers willing to take a remote-ready approach have the opportunity to reduce overheads, gain the benefit of geographical arbitrage, while giving themselves access to a vastly more diverse pool of talent based in locations all around the country," explained Ilit Raz, the company's CEO, via email. "Employees who work at home are also generally more productive without the pressure of a daily commute." </p><p>The numbers back this claim. According to an April <a href="https://www.citrix.com/news/announcements/apr-2020/remote-work-the-new-normal.html" target="_blank">poll from Citrix</a> of 10,000 U.S. employees, 77 percent said they were more productive working at home, and 69 percent said they were working the same number of hours, or more, than they put in when they'd been office-bound. </p><p>Historically, many tech firms have attempted to mitigate their hiring challenges by setting up offices close to institutions such as Stanford or MIT. This trend only perpetuated the situation, though, as companies were born from the same ecosystems that they used as recruiting hubs. However, the new shift to remote allows them to diversify their locations, potentially shifting to places where real estate isn't some of the most expensive in the world and non-white talent is easier to come by. </p>
More flexibility and more diversity<p>Controversial pay cuts aside, employees also appear happy with the shift to remote working. The same research by Gallup found that, of those who were working at home during the pandemic, 59 percent wanted things to stay that way even once restrictions are lifted.</p><p>Without being compelled to move to big cities, employees have far more flexibility to manage their work-life balance without the daily commutes. They can also eliminate commuting expenses. </p><p>The talent connection works both ways too. Just as employers have access to a bigger talent pool by casting the net more widely, candidates in remote locations also have the opportunity to apply for jobs from which they were previously excluded. Remote working, then, fosters a <a href="https://www.zdnet.com/article/you-want-diversity-inclusion-in-tech-embrace-remote-work/" target="_blank">better culture of inclusivity</a>. </p><p>The tech sector has, of course, long suffered from a diversity problem. It's been over five years since the industry buckled in to pressure and finally committed to publishing diversity reports, making tech companies headcount cohorts more transparent. And given <a href="https://bigthink.com/politics-current-affairs/black-lives-matter-white-people" target="_self">the current climate of "enough is enough"</a> when it comes to racial inequalities, it's especially shocking to see that little progress has been made over time.</p>
<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQyNzkwNi9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzMDUxNjEzOH0.AUU08bJlVdgcT0jWwKIBQnuwkGoEDrVMwshKSKNxXM4/img.png?width=980" id="fbd48" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2a83c1194c23a880eb674dd4ec25cb21" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Chart of Black Woekers in Big Tech" />
A better society and a more balanced economy<p>Opening up remote opportunities creates a more equitable workforce in a way that isn't contrived. Raz believes it presents an ideal opportunity for companies to walk the talk, from a diversity and inclusion perspective.</p> <p>"With smart remote hiring in 2020, tech companies have the opportunity to break out of the cycle of diversity pledges that are perceived by the public as lip service. Today it's possible to achieve diversity and inclusion with real value – not only as a matter of quota compliance or publicity play," she said. "Going remote gives recruiters the ability to onboard physically and mentally challenged individuals, single parents and seniors, in addition to women and minorities. It's time to meaningfully give everyone a place at the table."</p> <p>More diverse companies create more inclusive tech products, and they make it easier for ethnic minorities and women to believe that they can pursue the career paths that speak to them most. Diverse companies happen to also drive superior business performance, according to <a href="https://until.un.org/news/until-releases-report-diversity-and-inclusion-tech" target="_blank">a recent report</a> from the United Nations Technology Innovation Labs (UNTIL).</p>
<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQyNzkwOS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MzQ0NjYxOX0.xL7IZEW2xKPjRiTFboL-y2-u11STwoAUQ0NJE_nqo0Y/img.png?width=980" id="576ab" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9923ba9ab7048427bf4388617a2af5f3" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Better Business Performance graphic" />
Creating new opportunities<p>Nobody can argue that the coronavirus crisis has been a good thing. However, it has forced us to look at many elements of life through a different lens. The tech sector has been operating based on the decades-old paradigm that employees need to be at desks in offices if they're going to be productive, which doesn't fit with what tech companies actually need from their teams.</p> <p>The necessary shift to remote working has shone a light on the benefits of a different way. Companies, employees, and society at large can now continue to reap those benefits long after the crisis recedes. </p>
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Just because your team has gone remote doesn't mean you need to be vulnerable to hacks, breaches, and scams.
13 April, 2020
- Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, many enterprises had yet to contemplate a mass work-from-home scenario and were therefore unprepared to support it securely.
- There are practical steps you can take to safeguard confidentiality and cybersecurity with a WFH workforce.
- Applying best security practices to test for vulnerabilities, supervise access controls and password management, secure connections, and apply endpoint encryption can go a long way.
<p>Due to <a href="https://bigthink.com/coronavirus/" target="_self">the novel coronavirus situation</a>, billions of people are currently working remotely, many for the first time in their lives. It could be out of personal fears of infection, in obedience of local <a href="https://bigthink.com/politics-current-affairs/social-distancing-math" target="_self">social distancing regulations</a>, or in accordance with company-wide policies, but the end result is an unexpected shift from the norm of working in the office to <a href="https://www.walkme.com/glossary/wfh/" target="_blank">working from home (WFH)</a>.</p><p>Managing a workforce that has been suddenly <a href="https://bigthink.com/videos/working-remote" target="_self">transformed into a remote one</a> is challenging on many levels, not least because of the need to maintain cybersecurity standards. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, many enterprises had yet to contemplate a mass work-from-home scenario, and they therefore lack the policies, devices, or processes to support it securely. </p><p>What's more, in recent weeks, companies have been scrambling to preserve their security profiles in the face of an uptick in <a href="https://thenextweb.com/corona/2020/04/02/2600-per-day-coronavirus-related-cyberattacks-are-booming/" target="_blank">malicious actors seizing the opportunity</a> to hack corporate systems. That's the bad news. The good news is that you're not powerless. There are practical steps you can take to safeguard confidentiality and cybersecurity with a WFH workforce.</p><p>Here are a few of the basics.</p>
1. Set up a VPN for your employees.<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjkzMjAwNC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NzcxMTcxN30.a0RK7cVfupvPdbhMvIFUXr0G_yQ6-FHhDX0BkgeuT3w/img.jpg?width=980" id="1c63b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="605223fe03ac55182fc3ed7fb9d8eda3" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="laptop with VPN installed" />
2. Be proactive about testing.<p>Ignorance can be your biggest danger. If you're used to dealing with a secure internal network, you won't always know where your vulnerabilities and weaknesses lie when it comes to remote access.</p><p>This kind of blindness can lead quickly to data breaches that you might not even be aware of until months after the event.</p><p>To resolve this issue, use tools like Cymulate's breach and attack simulation platform, which runs <a href="https://blog.cymulate.com/cyber-risk-assessment" target="_blank">simulated attacks across remote connections</a> to assess your cybersecurity risk levels. This can help you determine the extent to which your settings, defenses, policies, and processes are effective, and where you need to make changes in order to maintain a secure organization. </p>
3. Train (and retrain) to minimize human error.<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjkzMjAwNi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNTY0NjU4Nn0.O_SLWJo3PjU0m1dfm7daqmeKmgbf8URstNH18uCjEo8/img.jpg?width=980" id="20c7a" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ebb965d4cf3a21d1d10d34f7abe39c15" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="three people looking at computer monitors" />
4. Be strict about access control.<p>Access controls are a vital layer of security around your network. Losing track of who can access which platforms, data and tools means losing control of your security, and that can be disastrous. </p><p>Even in "normal" times, <a href="https://solutionsreview.com/identity-management/thycotic-releases-2018-global-state-privileged-access-management-pam-risk-compliance/" target="_blank">70 percent of enterprises</a> overlook issues surrounding privileged user accounts, which form unseen entrances to your organization. As the WFH situation drags on, it's even more likely that access controls will lag, opening up holes in your perimeter.</p><p>In response, <a href="https://www.imperva.com/learn/data-security/role-based-access-control-rbac/" target="_blank">use role-based access control (RBAC)</a> to allow access to specific users based on their responsibilities and authority levels in the organization. By monitoring and strategically restricting access controls, you can further reduce the risk that human error might undermine your careful cybersecurity arrangements.</p>
5. Use endpoint encryption on devices and apps.<p>Because most companies were not yet set up for remote work when the COVID-19 crisis hit, the lion's share of devices used to connect from new home offices are not owned or configured by employers. </p><p>And with employees more likely to use their own computers when working from home, endpoint attacks become even more serious. <a href="https://labs.sentinelone.com/threat-intel-update-cyber-attacks-leveraging-the-covid-19-coronavirus-pandemic/" target="_blank">SentinelOne</a>, an endpoint security platform, <a href="https://www.raconteur.net/technology/covid-19-cybersecurity" target="_blank">reported a 433 percent rise</a> in endpoint attacks from late February to mid-March. </p><p>Although it can seem difficult to secure endpoints when employees are working remotely, it is possible. <a href="https://www.sentrybay.com/" target="_blank">SentryBay's</a> endpoint application encryption solution takes a different approach, <a href="https://dwaterson.com/2020/03/02/protected-endpoint-applications-provide-common-security-posture-for-enterprise-cloud-ecosystems/" target="_blank">securing apps in their own "wrappers,"</a> as opposed to working on a device security level.</p>
6. Apply multi-factor authentication and strong passwords.<p>Finally, weak passwords are a known gift for hackers. The problem only grows when employees work from home, as the contextual shift makes it easier for them to ignore reminders from your security team. They are also more likely to share or save credentials for faster remote access when it takes time to get a response from a newly remote security team.</p><p>If you don't already use a password manager to force employees to generate strong passwords and avoid sharing or saving credentials, now is the time to begin. CyberArk Enterprise Password Vault requires users to update passwords regularly, enforces multi-factor authentication (MFA) to reduce the chances of hackers entering your network through stolen passwords, and provides auditing and control features so you can <a href="https://www.cyberark.com/products/privileged-account-security-solution/enterprise-password-vault/" target="_blank">track when someone uses</a> or misuses an account. </p><p>Consumer password managers like <a href="https://www.lastpass.com/" target="_blank">LastPass </a>and <a href="https://1password.com/" target="_blank">1Password </a>likewise offer business tiers with similar features.</p>
WFH doesn’t have to undermine network security<p>With enterprises unprepared for mass remote working, industries worldwide could face a security nightmare. However, applying best security practices and using advanced tools to test for vulnerabilities, supervise access controls and password management, secure connections, and apply endpoint encryption can go a long way.</p><p>Make sure your employees know your security policies will help harden your attack surface, improve your cybersecurity posture, and prevent COVID-19 from causing a cybersecurity plague. </p>
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