Today’s business world is becoming more data-driven and increasingly remote at a rapid pace. New technologies enable companies to gather more information, while the COVID-19 pandemic ushered in the unprecedented trend in remote work.
Many businesses realize the benefits of employees working remotely, but unfortunately, so do cybercriminals. Threat actors are capitalizing on the remote work trend and executing a range of cyberattacks to exploit companies and their sensitive data. At the same time, emphasizing employee productivity is a top concern for most employers.
Cybersecurity and productivity are two critical components of any business, regardless of industry. However, finding a healthy and suitable balance can be challenging. Employees require access to company data during the workday, and IT professionals must implement strong cybersecurity measures to protect that information. How can the two functions work in tandem?
Statista estimates that the global cybersecurity industry will reach around $345.4 billion by 2026, mainly because of increased awareness and additional investments in security infrastructure.
According to research from PwC, more than 25% of organizations expect to see double-digit growth in their cybersecurity budgets in 2022. Theft trends are shifting, accelerating and becoming highly sophisticated. Whether it’s a small business or critical health care infrastructure, hackers will target any company if they use and store valuable information.
Cybersecurity has evolved and taken on a more significant role in standard operating procedures in modern business. More cybersecurity jobs are opening up, meaning that certified IT professionals are in high demand. Companies understand that they must protect their data, employees and other critical assets.
Basic cybersecurity measures are no longer enough to keep hackers at bay. Now, businesses must follow new IT security guidelines to avoid being victimized by damaging cybercrimes.
Every business would argue that overall employee performance is critical in reaching success. Companies would suffer and fail to be profitable in a fiercely competitive landscape without productive workers.
Productivity is indispensable and plays an important role in business operations. Many employees report that the shift to remote work during the pandemic has boosted their productivity. However, current research is mixed — not all data suggests that working from home bolstered yields during the pandemic.
Regardless of these mixed views, a study conducted by The Predictive Index (PI) found that in 2020, 56% of CEOs cited employee performance as a top concern. Maintaining productivity is the ultimate goal, but it can come with challenges.
Due to the remote working environment trend, many companies allow their employees to use laptops and tablets to balance their time between the office and other work locations. However, a stolen laptop or tablet can lead to a potential security breach, negatively affecting the company.
When company devices are layered with several cybersecurity measures, it can frustrate employees and even impact their productivity.
For example, an employee working from a Starbucks may need to access an important file on the company network. However, it may flag the use of public Wi-Fi as a potential threat. How can this worker achieve high productivity levels when security measures present hurdles?
While this is only one example, one truth remains: Companies cannot sacrifice security to maintain employee productivity. Some experts argue that productivity needs to take a backseat to cybersecurity because data is becoming more valuable over time.
Today’s businesses face a tough dilemma between cybersecurity and productivity. A data breach can cost a company thousands or even millions of dollars, but losses due to low yields can prevent them from meeting their bottom line.
Companies need to empower employees to maintain high productivity while also protecting their assets. There are several ways to combine cybersecurity and productivity to ensure businesses are safe and can achieve maximum output.
Here are some ways businesses can strike a balance between cybersecurity and productivity.
If employees perceive cybersecurity as a hurdle, they’ll find ways around it rather than following protocol. This may mean utilizing unauthorized file sharing applications, using weak passwords for easy access to accounts or leveraging personal devices to complete tasks.
For this reason, it’s crucial to use a layered approach and simplify cybersecurity measures for employees. For example, if changing passwords frequently is a top company practice, ensure workers use a password manager for ease of use. This way, accounts are secure, and people can easily access their information.
IT teams must adopt the best cybersecurity practices to protect the company from potential cybersecurity threats. Employees responsible for securing a business’s data should consider adopting new storage technologies or widely used cloud-based services for their IT infrastructure.
Cloud infrastructure comes with benefits and drawbacks. Some pros include reliability, cost-effectiveness, security and flexibility for employees, helping them maintain productivity while working remotely.
Another way to balance cybersecurity and productivity is to invest in useful employee collaboration tools. Productivity cannot be achieved without teams working together. Many popular collaboration tools have enhanced security features to protect companies and their data.
Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Trello are some examples of collaboration tools or project management software (PMS) to drive productivity without compromising security. Some companies may be able to use paid collaboration tool options. In contrast, others may opt for free versions — it all depends on size, budget and unique business needs.
No company can make cybersecurity a priority without implementing comprehensive employee cybersecurity training. Educating end-users is a crucial step in creating a good strategy. For example, a hacker may target a company’s weakest link when executing a phishing scam. Often, cybersecurity attacks target employees, not systems, according to Harvard Business Review (HBR).
Teaching employees about the best cybersecurity practices can prevent threats from becoming a reality. Workers’ perspectives could change as they learn more about cybersecurity and how important its role is. In other words, when employees become comfortable using built-in security tools, their productivity could increase because cybersecurity will seem like less of a hurdle.
Rather than treat cybersecurity and productivity as two separate areas of business, consider making the two partners. There’s no doubt that striking this balance is tricky, but it’s key in today’s ever-changing environment. Everyone wins when employees have the right tools to achieve maximum productivity and protect critical data.
Zac Amos writes about AI, cybersecurity and other trending technology topics, and he works as the Features Editor at ReHack.