Right to Request Flexible Working

‘Flexible working is a way of working that suits an employee’s needs like working flexitime, homeworking, job sharing, shift work etc.’

From June 30th 2014, employees are entitled to request flexible working if they have completed 26 weeks of service within a company. Prior to this change it only applied to parents of under 16s and carers.

The Steady Rise of Homeworking

According to Trade Union and the Office for National Statistics there has been a steady increase from 1.3 million homeworkers in 1998 to 4.2 million in 2014, with many spending at least half of their work time working from home.

With most job roles requiring technology or access to the corporate IT network it is becoming necessary for organisations to allow users to remote into the network anytime, anywhere. Within the marketplace there are a number of products that can help like Microsoft Remote Desktop App, Citrix XenApp, VMware Horizon etc.

Homeworking has a number of benefits for both the employer and employees:-

Employer

Employees

  • Increase productivity
  • Help lower overheads
  • Reputation of flexibility = help attract and retain staff
  • Lower carbon footprint (less commuting)
  • Flexibility
  • Savings on travel costs
  • Improved work-life balance
  • Personalised work space
  • Improved job satisfaction

Although there are benefits of homeworking, it is not suited to all job roles and organisations i.e. workers who require particular industrial machinery to carry out their job or a sales consultant at a retail premises – so, job role suitability is factor when considering employees application for homeworking.

Another thing to keep in mind is security – always ensure the technology and methods used by homeworkers to access business data is secure, to help lower the risk of data breaches. This may mean initial investment into the IT infrastructure to make it suitable for homeworking. So, assess whether the advantages outweighs the disadvantages and the costs against the benefits.

For more information is planning, deploying and managing remote IT technology please contact us today.

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The Aftermath of the eBay Cyber-Attack and the Lessons to be Learnt…

In May it was announced on news sites such as the BBC and SkyNews that the popular e-commerce site eBay was breach late February and early March. The breached database contained phone numbers, addresses, date of birth, other personal data and encrypted passwords. The company never disclosed how many of the 148 million active accounts were affected but, has asked all active users to change their passwords. The hackers infiltrated the network by obtaining, a small number of employees’ login credentials. Luckily the hacker did not access eBay subsidiary, Paypal’s financial database because it was stored on a separate network.

The Aftermath

Since the news many customers have complained and criticised the way the situation was handled, Attorney Generals in at least 3 states in the US has begun investigating the cyber-attack incident. Users was also outraged that eBay waited 2 weeks before publishing the breach after they found out, their explanation was:-

“For a very long period of time we did not believe that there was any eBay customer data compromised,” commented the Global Marketplaces Chief Devin Wenig shortly after the news was announced.

After promising they will make password resets mandatory on the website, it was days before this was carried out and for users that wanted to change their passwords after the initial announcement, they were unable to because the site struggled with the abnormal number of reset requests. Both of these factors added to the negative feelings amongst eBay users.

In a bid to assure customers they released a statement saying they have seen no indication of increased fraudulent account activities on the site but, it would seem eBay has missed the point as the main concern is… what the cybercriminals can potentially do with the non-encrypted information they stole like the numbers, addresses, date of birth, etc. – so the question is, why wasn’t this personal data encrypted like the passwords?

Considering eBay is responsible for a vast amount of personal data, you would assume they have a better incident response and management, breach detection, network admin login protection, and communication practices.

The most important lessons to take from this data incident is that good IT security practices for networks is essential for all businesses, regular network security assessments are required, educate staff on security and have good crisis management.

Breaches can happen to any company and poor incident response and management can just be like rubbing more salt to the wound, with the potential to create more long-term brand reputation damage.

For more information on IT network security practices and services please feel free to contact us on 0845 603 5552

Remote Working… The Trend of Mobility in the Workplace

Forrester Research suggests 95% of workers are using at least one-self purchased device for work, which can help explain the blurring between work and play, and the growing adoption of BYOD within businesses.

But, when it comes to Workforce Mobility, BYOD is only a part of it, as TechTarget and Computer Weekly IT priorities survey, found 67% of enterprise plan to issue employees with mobile devices such as laptops, tablets and smartphones in 2014 – suggesting that employers are also starting to see the benefits of remote working, by empowering employees with the ability to choose where they work.

Remote Working

Working anywhere, anytime…

By offering remote working or telecommuting it can remove recruitment geographic limits, employers can employ the very best and employees can work for who they want without worrying about the location of the offices – the ability to be able to work anywhere and workplace flexibility can help to attract and retain staff. With the amount of communication tools available cross-boarders conference calls can all be cost-effective.

Researchers at Stanford University found that remote workers are 13% more productive and have less sick days. The increase in productivity could be because it provides employees with the freedom of working from a personalised space, a space that can support individual workflow and processes, no compulsory commute (which can sometimes be stressful!!), a space that has no interruptions from colleagues which in turn can increase job satisfaction.

By offering employees the option for flexible working it displays trust (although there will be times where this is abused). Employees would appreciate the flexibility of tailoring their work-life balance = they would be as focused and productive. In theory. But, when working from home there may be distractions due to domestic circumstances which could have opposite effect so, its not something that is suitable for everyone.

Not everyone sees workplace mobility in a positive light – In 2013 Yahoo ended its remote working program and BestBuy quickly followed suit. Both argued employees working together within one building will promote interaction, creativity and the sharing of information – which is a valid point. This idea is supported by Google where Patrick Pichette CFO commented “The surprising question we get is: ‘How many people telecommute at Google?’ And our answer is: ‘As few as possible’”.

The lack of uptake of remote working could be that many organizations lack trust with their employees, they have an innate belief that performance and productivity can be measured within office buildings, as Managers can see physical presence – the question is, just because someone is sitting there, does it really mean they are being productive? The answer can be debatable.

Even though there is a low uptake in remote working currently, as technology and user habits change, ‘Work Mobility’ and ‘Flexible Working’ is predicted to grow. Leading to a popular view that work is something not confined to a particular building, it is an activity that can be conducted anytime, anywhere.

Of course certain jobs are not suited to remote working like manning a production line and there are a number of disadvantages. In short mobility in the workplace can be beneficial

Secure Remote Working Netshield

Working remotely? Make sure its done securely.

for businesses and individuals but, before the decision is made an assessment of suitability is required. If workplace mobility is something that is suited to different roles and organisational culture then, it must be planned, deployed and managed securely.