Over the past decade mobile working has risen dramatically, with workers now needing to be able to work from anywhere and everywhere. It is expected that by 2023 the global mobile workforce will be 1.88 billion and account for 43.3% of the global workforce.
The prevalence of light and portable mobile devices, including smartphones, laptops, and tablets, combined with the emergence of accessible Wi-Fi and cloud services, has created an environment beneficial to employee flexibility. Despite a multitude of benefits, enabling a mobile workforce does not come without its own challenges, from device management to unsecured access and communication.
The benefits of mobile working are clear, including:
- Employee adaptability – Mobile working means employees can now work wherever they are. Whether that’s spent on the train travelling, working from home, or halfway around the globe; cloud and mobile working mean that people no longer need to be confined to the traditional static office.
- Excellent customer services – With employees being able to access company data away from the office, any customer queries, whether in person, over the phone, or via email can be swiftly dealt with.
- Employee happiness – For some staff who may have a long and tiresome commute each day, the option to work from home either on occasion or the majority of the time may relieve the pressure for staff. Creating a mobile workforce also eliminates some of the pressure from employees who no longer feel the need to rush back to the office after a meeting, instead providing them the ability to work elsewhere.
However, whilst the many benefits of mobile working are striking, it does not come without some hindrances or challenges. As IT departments adapt to mobile working, issues which they’ve never had to historically face have arisen.
Managing devices from a distance requires a different approach to the traditional office PCs, as IT no longer have the ability to simply walk up to a device and check on it. A mobile workforce means employees are now working beyond the traditional workplace firewall. As a result, a new approach to device and network security must be considered
Mobile working comes with the flexibility to work anywhere, but with it comes a degree of uncertainty in whether users have secure access. With users jumping on to the Wi-Fi everywhere from local coffee shops to their daily commute on the train, it’s important to highlight to users the necessity of being aware of the possible dangers this could present. If the Wi-Fi used is unencrypted, any corporate information or credentials sent over it are at risk of being intercepted by bad actors. Users are also at risk of using a fake or ‘spoofed’ Wi-Fi – a network set up to imitate another, legitimate Wi-Fi, which enables a Man-in-the-Middle attack to be conducted; allowing someone to intercept an internet connection and gather all information that is transmitted over it.
Keeping Track of Assets
With such a wide variety of devices now available for use outside of the office, instant physical access is no longer a possibility for IT departments. With devices not necessarily kept in a secure, locked office, they are far more at risk of being damaged, lost or stolen, alongside an increased potential risk of security breaches.
With some staff working on the go, whilst others may be based from a home office, communication between staff may be an issue. Whilst email is still a popular tool (124.5 billion business emails are sent and received each day), it can often be difficult to properly communicate with colleagues in this manner. Some staff get around this problem through messaging apps such as WhatsApp, but in doing so, create a multitude of problems in the form of Shadow IT.
Maintaining Connectivity and Security on the go
Mobile working enables a flexible workforce who can work at home or on the go, outside of the traditional workplace. However, for many employees outside of the workplace environment, poor mobile phone network signal or Wi-Fi connectivity is an all too common problem. Dropped calls and unresponsive applications make accessing corporate data and maintaining communication a constant issue.
These challenges need to be resolves and businesses need to embrace solutions in order to reach the full potential of mobile working. Steps that can be taken to solve the aforementioned issues include:
Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) provides the building blocks for mobile security and management, with a UEM platform providing a comprehensive solution for managing multiple endpoints. UEM tools include the following functions:
- Configure, manage, and monitor iOS, Android, Windows 10, and macOS.
- Unify the application of configurations, management profiles, device compliance, and data protection.
- Provide a single view of multi-device users, meaning more efficient end-user support and detailed workplace analytics.
- Act as a coordination point to orchestrate the activities of related endpoint technologies such as identity services and security infrastructure.
By using a UEM platform, IT admins can easily track and manage the assets of a mobile workforce, ensuring that devices (and the data they hold), are never at risk. Problems associated with shadow IT and unauthorised apps are also solved, with sanctioned apps deployed via UEM.
Mobile Threat Defence (MTD) protects devices from the very real threats they face every day. With machine-learning, algorithms are optimised to run continuously on-device, detecting threats even when the device is offline. Plus, MTD can plug directly into a UEM platform, creating one seamless deployment.
Secure cloud access protects both the company and employees through adaptive multi-factor authentication. Access is granted to cloud services only when a user’s identity has been verified, as background checks analyse multiple factors of an authentication check, including whether the services are being accessed from a known device, the location, time, and much more. Dependent on the level of risk determined, access is either granted, escalated to a multi-factor authentication request, or blocked entirely. As a result, stolen credentials no longer pose a threat to the organisation, as even with a valid username and password, services will identify inconsistencies with the device, location, etc and require multi-factor authentication. Learn more about Mobliciti Auth – Mobliciti’s adaptive multi-factor authentication here.
Cloud access security brokers (CASBs) are an additional step to secure the cloud. Sitting in-between the cloud service consumer and provider, CASBs enable the enterprise to extend their security controls to the cloud, encompassing enforced data security, compliance, and the ability to govern policies for cloud applications.
Collaboration apps are beneficial to mobile working, providing instant communication and simplifying working. Providing officially sanctioned apps is essential, as otherwise, employees will always find alternatives, putting your business at risk. Microsoft’s collaboration tools, such as Teams and SharePoint enable a mobile workforce, providing secure solutions which boost employee productivity, without endangering company data. Find out more about why combining tools such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams can create the perfect collaboration package.
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) can provide users with a number of benefits. They encrypt data, enabling users to securely access and transfer work content. By providing remote access, employees are able to access content remotely from any location, meaning that work isn’t prohibited or restricted dependent on location. A VPN such as NetMotion also provides users with unbreakable connectivity, meaning that users won’t lose connectivity due to being on the move or dropped signal.
How We Can Help
With Mobliciti’s Managed Services, we can help with the challenges of mobile working. Whether it’s one service or fully managed, we provide bespoke solutions to suit you. Our Managed Services enable you to bundle tailored services into a single contract, with one helpdesk that is completely customisable to your business’s requirements.
Get in touch to find out more.