Technology has been the US economy’s best defense against the COVID pandemic. Computing and communicating across the Internet has allowed an enormous number of American businesses to function fully and keep their employees working. In a very meaningful way, technology has saved our economy. Even more remarkable is that technology has changed the way people work.
As one might imagine, most remote workers are white collar workers–those with higher levels of education and income. In a survey conducted by the Census Department between August 21 and December 21, 2020, it was found that 36.9% of all households in America included at least one person working remotely. Taking a deeper dive, it found that 73.1% of people earning more than $200,000 were working remotely, and 32% of people earning between $50,000 and $74,000 were remote. Not surprising, only 12.7% those earning less than $25,000 worked remotely. Understandably, blue collar workers, who perform their duties with their hands, cannot work remotely.
The question of the future of remote workers is yet to be answered, but in no way do remote systems seem to be on their way out. According to a recent article in Forbes, “B2B companies see digital interactions as two to three times more critical than traditional sales interactions. For remote interactions, respondents report nearly 90% of sales have moved to the video conferencing model… Among the C-suite executives, in a recent survey by McKinsey, more than three-quarters anticipate the return of the “core” employee to the office three or more days per week. These executives recognize the work-from-home experiment was surprisingly effective. However, they are eager for employees to be back in the office for a somewhat more flexible model and to keep some of what was left behind when Covid-19 hit — in-office work, which some believe erodes culture.”
The most formidable obstacle facing a future of a significant workforce is in securing IT networks and protecting a business’s confidential information. It’s estimated that 62% of all network breaches are SME, Small and Mid-Size businesses. How can those businesses believe they can secure their remote workers when they can’t secure their internal, on-premise network infrastructures? The odds of SBEs having secured information that can withstand attacks on both their on-site and remote workers seem low.
More so today than ever, C-Level executives and small business owners need to take accountability for security of their information. The average cost of a SME breach is approaching $50,000, and 72% of those breached fail to recover and consequently close their doors. No C-Level executives or small business owners can continue to sit passively on the sidelines trusting that their IT ‘guys’ have their business’s information protected.
C-level executives and business owners need to start looking at their network and cybersecurity as risk management issues rather than technology issues. They need to understand that security is not something that can be handled only by throwing money into new hardware and software. Rather, network security must begin to be ingrained into a business’s culture. They need to start looking at network and cybersecurity in terms of risk management. Establishing and maintaining a workplace culture and dealing effective with risks are two of an executive’s most important functions.
The new model of a corporate workforce, split between an on-premise and remote environment, will require imagination to manage and protect. Isn’t that the bedrock of management? Today’s C-suite executives and small business owners must open their eyes to the new reality, manage information security as a risk, and initiate an evolving corporate culture.