One estimate suggests that up to 90% of technology and communication sector employees will be permitted to work from home upon returning to normality. A third of all UK remote jobs are in the IT sector. As the most likely to adopt new technologies, they have brought the potential of virtual private networks to the forefront.
Naturally, the benefits and protections afforded by additional security initiatives apply across every sector, and we present five reasons why employers should prioritise the use of VPNs among their remote workforce.
1. VPNs Provide Additional Protection While Network Hopping
Remote work is often colloquially referred to as working from home, but that is not always the literal case. Some employees struggle to work in the same environment in which they sleep and eat, while others may prefer more sociable surroundings or even combine their work with travel. This results in increased usage of famously unsecured public Wi-Fi networks in coffee shops, hotels and other public areas. Given the requirement to access internal corporate information, even as innocuous as their work email account, a VPN can provide the added layer of encryption needed to protect employees and businesses alike.
2. Companies Can Provide Access to Internal Systems
With the increased adoption of the likes of Microsoft Teams, even smaller businesses have what qualify as internal systems and networks. The UK government reported in March 2021 that 39% of companies and 26% of charities suffered a cyber attack in the preceding 12 months.
Cybersecurity is a hot topic, especially considering legislation around data protection, and a VPN is the first step in ensuring that only authorised individuals may access those systems. The employer often provides these accounts, and they involve a slight cost increase but represent a small price to pay for the protection and remote accessibility they afford.
3. VPN Use Can Help Employees to Get in the Zone
An employer-provided VPN can aid employees that struggle to switch on and off in their working day without their familiar office surroundings. Something as simple as restricting or enabling access to specific tools and resources can aid employees in forming habits and smoothing the transition from on-site to remote work. Closing down the VPN connection on a device and returning to normal browsing habits can be the ‘off-switch’ employees need to remind them about their work-life balance.
4. Employees Can Circumvent Geographical Restrictions in their Work
Larger businesses, in particular, will have employees from different countries, each of which will have its own regulations on what employees can and cannot access. A UK employee may, for example, be unable to visit certain US-based news and information sites as they may have restricted access for European visitors due to GDPR considerations.
VPN users can appear to be located virtually anywhere in the world, and a couple of clicks are often all it takes to get around geographical restrictions that may get in the way of their working endeavours.
5. Businesses Can Maintain Internal IT Policies
A VPN service can not only help employees to perform their roles adequately outside the office but can also assist businesses in ensuring that their workforce continues to adhere to policies and directives – even when not physically plugged into the network.
This can involve fully or partially replicating the same configurations used on company-owned hardware and is available at the discretion of the IT team. This may include deploying specific security settings, an authorised firewall service or anything else that the company deems necessary. Using a VPN for access, team members can control these settings remotely, without having to apply them for every individual as traffic is routed in a specific manner, ensuring that those settings take effect.
There are benefits for businesses and employees alike with VPNs, whether the workforce opts to take on a personal subscription or the company chooses to deploy a company-wide solution. With the concerns mentioned earlier around cybersecurity just as important as the increase in remote working, encouraging adoption among employees remains a cost-effective solution to a genuine problem.