What is remote work?

What is Remote Work?

It seems simple enough. Remote work would appear to signify work done outside of an office. But there are so many different terms floating around regarding work flexibility that it’s important to know what each means. There are many names given remote workers: teleworker, iPro, telecommuter, distance worker, homeworker, freelancer, and outworker.  There are also many forms of remote work: Full time, Part time, Job sharing, Gig work, Contract work, Consulting, Road Warrior.  What all this means is that “Work” is changing due to Technology, Education, Mobility, Security, and the age of the work force.  Ultimately, what your company’s definition of remote work is will be depends largely on your own practices and policies.  While Corporations are struggling to keep up with this change, early adopters of this phenomena are reaping phenomenal rewards:

WeWork

WeWork is an American company that provides shared workspaces for technology startup subculture communities, and services for entrepreneurs, freelancers, startups, small businesses and large enterprises. Founded in 2010, it is headquartered in New York City. As of July 2017, WeWork had a valuation of roughly US $20 billion and managed 10,000,000 square feet (930,000 m2) of office space.

Slack

Slack is a cloud-based set of proprietary team collaboration tools and services, founded by Stewart Butterfield. Slack began as an internal tool used by his company Tiny Speck. The current valuation estimate for Slack stands at around $8.3 billion based on the 2018 forecasts and estimates for the company.

Dropbox

Dropbox is a file hosting service operated by the American company Dropbox, Inc., headquartered in San Francisco, California, that offers cloud storage, file synchronization, personal cloud and client software. Dropbox was founded in 2007 by MIT students Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi as a startup company.  Dropbox revealed in its SEC filing that it had around 540 million shares outstanding at the end of 2017. Using the $10 billion estimate for Dropbox’s value, this implies a price per share of about $18.50 as of now.

Box
Box, the business software company led by Aaron Levie, reported its fiscal first quarter earnings on May 30, 2018, posting revenues of $140.5 million—a record—and cash flow from operations of $18 million. Its quarterly revenue was up 20% year over year.

Toptal

Toptal accepted a $1.4 million seed round of financing from Andreessen Horowitz and angel investors including Quora founder Adam D’Angelo. In 2015 and 2016, their annual revenue was $80 million and $100 million respectively.  “There’s a network effect,” says Du Val he turned his office-less company into a $100 million-revenue business that connects high-level developers, designers, and finance pros with some 2,000 companies, including Airbnb, Pfizer, and the Cleveland Cavaliers.  Not only are new Start-Up’s enjoying the benefits but also these Fortune 100 companies.

For example, the Global Workplace Analytics statistics show that the average real estate savings with full-time telework is $10,000 per employee per year.

Specifically, these organizations found that such options allowed:

IBM to cut real estate costs by $50 million
Sun Microsystems saved $68 million a year in such costs.
Nortel estimates that they save $100,000 per employee they don’t have to relocate.
Recent Global Workplace Analytics studies show that offering workers flex options can boost productivity.
AT&T found its telecommuters worked more hours at home than its office workers.
JD Edwards teleworkers were shown to be 20-25 percent more productive than their office colleagues. American Express employees who home worked were 43 percent more productive than office workers.

Advantages of Agile Work Strategies for all Companies:

• Improves employee satisfaction
• Reduces attrition
• Reduces unscheduled absences
• Increases productivity
• Saves employers money
• Increases collaboration
• Expands the talent pool

The Obstacles to Work At Home and Telecommuting Programs
• Management mistrust
• It’s not for everyone
• Career fears from ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality
• Security issues
• IT infrastructure changes may be necessary

The office is rapidly expanding beyond the cubicle.  The number of telecommuting workers has increased 115% in a decade, according to a new report from Global Workplace Analytics and FlexJobs. That translates to 3.9 million workers, or almost 3% of the total U.S. workforce, working from home at least half the time in 2015, an increase from 1.8 million in 2005.
In the EU a study released 29 May 2018 by Zug, Switzerland-based serviced office provider IWG found that 70 percent of professionals work remotely at least one day a week, while 53 percent work remotely for at least half of the week.  The ability to work from home and the emergence of digital office rental services has led to changing attitudes around where people should work and whether they should stick to the traditional nine-to-five working hours.

Workplace Analytics and IWG both said their studies related to full-time employees rather than the self-employed or contractors. Chief Executive Mark Dixon said that technology was the primary driver of changing perceptions around locations and working hours. “The biggest driver is digital, changing every industry in the world,” Dixon told CNBC in a phone interview. “On the one hand, it’s changing how real estate needs to be offered, but it’s also companies wanting something different in the digital world.” Dixon said that firms are less inclined to invest in real estate and were looking to digital services instead to hire out office spaces. He added that the idea of remote working allows employees to be more flexible.

Who’s working outside the office?
Telecommuters tend to be a little bit older than the average employee: half are 45 or older. They’re also more educated and earn more than non-telecommuters. The average yearly income for most telecommuters is $4,000 more than non-telecommuters, according to the report. Remote work is gender neutral with 52% of work-at-home employees being female. Telecommuting is most common among management positions. Professional, scientific and technical services industries have the highest percentage of telecommuters relative to their share of the workforce.
Employees are expecting more flexible work arrangements, customers are demanding more responsiveness from companies, and the challenge is now for CEO’s to embrace the change required within their organizations to address these needs.

Due to the rapid growth of the workplace, remote-working policies will rival the popularity of fixed office locations by 2025, rendering the future workplace unrecognizable.

MyWorkDrive fits nicely into remote working strategies enabling workers to collaborate on files remotely while keeping them stored on company storage with the added security of two factor authentication (to prevent sharing of passwords) and data leak protection to prevent downloads and casual sharing of confidential documents.

The Art of SAML/SSO and MFA

SAML SSO Integration

Security Assertion Markup Language or SAML is well known by its function and not necessarily by its name or moniker. IT Managers use it on any given day possibly multiple times. With SAML multi device management becomes easier and less stressful and tedious. Simply put, you are able to sign on to one computer and access and perform security functions on other computers. In this current climate of data integrity worries and data leak prevention, being able to authenticate and authorize credentials is critical. SAML makes network security easier to manage.

SSO or Single Sign On is what any executive or front-line staff wants and needs for easy collaboration, streamlined workflow, and smooth operations as more staff work remotely. For example, if your core inventory management database is cloud based and your retail POS has a local server but they have an API that makes them talk to each other along with a dashboard that talks to an on premise file server with financials and you have a single sign on credential for all logins then you are not constantly having to remember passwords or create usernames and secure logins for every point of contact in your enterprise where operations and performance metrics live.

Some security experts’ shudder at the thought of a CEO keeping a post-it note in a drawer with passwords but before you snicker just remember that a lot of Network Security professionals don’t always use a password protector or authenticator either and are prone to losing cell phones at trade shows. You have one key to your front door and this lets you in every time. Don’t make things complicated.

Picture yourself at an airport sitting with your laptop with time to kill before boarding your business flight. On your laptop you have an icon you click open that you enter your single sign on credentials and bingo you are instantly in your home drive at the office and on the server at the colo. You are working at the speed at light and not missing a beat regarding the latest report just updated and saved on the server in the folder marked sales reports. Having a web dav client and being able to instantly, securely, and remotely access your files is a game changer. You can stay agile, productive, and efficient with your time. No need to text the IT desktop support back at HQ to find out who changed passwords all of the sudden or why you are locked out right now.

There is duo authentication which most gmail users are familiar with via entering a phone number to get a text with a code that you enter so you can add another layer of protection to signing in to your email account. MFA or Multi Factor Authentication adds yet more layers and added protections especially if the data you are sharing is critical, classified, and/or for certain eyes only. Many contractors in the government sector as well as in healthcare and research and development are well aware of MFA just like in banking where you have a safety security box locked in a vault behind the closed doors of a bank who also has an armed security guard at the door. Banks and financial institutions use MFA all the time.

You can live dangerously and have all your logins saved to your browser but what if you lose your laptop or you click open a link in an email that renders your machine kaput and has to be taken off the network immediately…what then? You should make a habit of clearing your cache, removing cookies, updating logins and securely storing them somewhere in your own vault of some kind whether that be a platform like LassPass or while also having your enterprise network architecture and data security protocol include SSO. You don’t want staff members being the master of your universe. Don’t make your IT Department lose sleep every night by making them chase down each and every staff member to get updated login credentials. That should be managed from top down. They can have their own passwords, but every platform and software used should have a master admin account that can access everything and that SAML and SSO should live with IT and Executive Management. Terming out an employee should not be a fire drill in getting your network back or worrying who still has access to what.  Active Director integrated with Windows File Server Shares should be managed concurrently, and onboarding or terming staff should have the same consistent protocol each time. You need to be able to pull the plug so to speak on all logins at all touch points to the system based on what level or what clearance the employee had. If you have it related to SSL or NTFS permissions, then it’s not a nightmare to manage. Adding another layer of MFA that you are able to control from internally is also an essential safeguard.

On one side you have ease of use for the employee and on the other side you have ease of control on the management side. Your user base will be very happy being able to log on to all aspects of operations with one sign on credential even if it means they have to enter a code that is generated to their cell phone with a text alert when logging in. Again, this level of security depends on what is being accessed and what permission has been granted to staff member.

What constitutes a work stoppage? Someone can’t get their email? That’s inconvenient but not a reason to fold your arms in your lap and plan on catching the early train home. With SAML and/or SSO all you need is a browser and you are back in business accessing the information you need. It’s always good protocol and policy to have some kind of Multi Factor Authentication on your phone and mobile devices like tablets, etc. Think of it much like an Apple ID account. You have that added layer of having to use your thumbprint when downloading an app and then to purchase and set up an account you still need to enter your Apple ID. You want layers between you and someone else trying to steal your identity, hack your network, or corrupt your files. You also want it to be easy and fast to access your files. Use MyWorkDrive with any compliant SAML solution with streamlined setup of Azure AD, Okta and Onelogin.  Add MFA or DUO as you need to and start working away from anywhere!