Last year’s swift shift to remote work speeded up the adoption of collaboration platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Slack, and others to enable means of communication during the pandemic.
This boom of unified communication solutions became the main vehicle for the transition to remote work.
However, for some companies, the unplanned adoption of these collaboration tools led to other significant problems.
Although collaboration platforms facilitate file sharing, video calling, instant messaging, and direct emails, they also pose alarming threats to cybersecurity.
It is true that they enhance productivity but the ease of file sharing among departments or even external collaborators has its associated risk.
For example, let’s say that you own a consulting agency and want to add your new client as a guest to your Microsoft Team’s site.
They will have access only to the files that you allow them to see, but what if one of your employees accidentally shares confidential information with your client?
Sometimes situations like these go unnoticed. If the file is publicly available, weeks can pass before anyone notices the security leak.
Cases like the one depicted above have obliged many Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) to reinforce security measures to have more control over who shares information and what is being shared.
However, these tightened restrictions have a negative impact on employee productivity.
According to a recent report by HP Wolf Security, 48% of younger office workers who responded to the survey view security tools as a hindrance, leading to nearly a third (31%) trying to bypass corporate security to get their work done.
The situation gets even worse. It is not only productivity that’s at stake due to tightened security restrictions.
The report also found that 69% of IT Teams said they’re made to feel like the “bad guys” for imposing restrictions on employees.
It is clear that tensions between workers and IT teams have steamed up, creating an unhealthy corporate environment.
Finding The Right Balance
CISOs have the challenge of finding the right balance between security and productivity.
Policies that are too restrictive hinder end-user productivity, yet not having them puts security at risk.
So, what can be done to favour both security and employee productivity? The following are four suggestions from the team at Wingman Solutions:
Distributing Permission Approvals
Distributing permit approvals is one way to manage the challenge.
Leaders are allowing security access based on hierarchical relationships, rather than giving one person or one group of individuals complete control over who can and cannot access data.
To put it in another way, they allow permissions to be passed down through direct links.
This method of data security is especially useful for businesses with physical assets in remote locations with limited connectivity.
Base Systems On Employee Needs
IT teams should center all their efforts on making virtual workspaces suitable for the end user. The best place to start is by understanding end-user needs and workflows.
From this point, IT administrators can then apply reverse engineering to design systems that ensure data security without negatively impacting productivity.
IT teams can deploy this system to design and integrate end-user-facing tools or wizards that make it easier for remote employees to communicate.
This way, the correct data is kept safe without overburdening employees with excessive permission requests for every single file they wish to open.
Raise Employee Awareness
Most employees often fail to follow security best practices and policies due to a lack of understanding of security risks.
CISOs and IT teams should address this by raising employee awareness of the potential risks, financial losses, and reputation-wrecking consequences resulting from poor security habits.
To revert this situation, CISOs should create security awareness training that addresses recommended security best practices to apply while using collaboration platforms.
This way, IT can prevent most risks from end-user failures and focus on higher-level security issues by implementing proactive education initiatives and career-long security training.
Train A Set Of Users
In addition to reinforcing education efforts among all employees of an organization, CISOs and IT Teams can help integrate security as part of the organizational culture by selecting and training a small group of workers to become IT ambassadors.
These IT ambassadors help oversee cooperation and security processes in day-to-day operations, either temporarily or permanently.
They can also collaborate with their peers to detect and convey common security vulnerabilities to the IT team, as well as troubleshoot end-user issues before they become a problem.
IT ambassadors may help their teams achieve a healthy balance between collaboration security and employee productivity in different parts of the organization by utilizing peer-to-peer collaboration.
Implement an IT compliance policy
Businesses should implement compliance policies to improve the balance between cybersecurity and employee productivity because these policies help create a secure and efficient working environment.
By adhering to recognized standards, organizations can effectively lower operational risks and protect sensitive data, while ensuring that employees have the necessary resources to perform their tasks effectively.
An IT compliance policy outlines clear guidelines for acceptable technology usage, which helps maintain a secure infrastructure and prevent cyber threats.
At the same time, it supports employee productivity by providing additional security measures such as password management, access control, and data storage and sharing protocols.
In essence, implementing compliance policies enables businesses to strike the right balance between safeguarding their digital assets and fostering an environment where employees can work efficiently and securely.
We offered you some strategies on how to tackle the cybersecurity vs productivity problem and we really hope they are of help!
Thankfully, you don’t have to implement them alone. We count on an expert team willing to guide you through the process. Request a quote for dedicated IT support services from Wingman Solutions.