5 Security & Productivity Hacks for Home Businesses

By Isaac Kohen, Teramind

These are anxious times for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 70% are concerned about financial hardship due to pandemic-related disruptions, and more than half are worried about having to close permanently.

At the same time, SMBs are tasked with personnel management in an increasingly distributed and frequently fraught environment where employees are stressed and burned out.

Collectively, it’s a sizable challenge for SMB leadership. That’s why embracing the right priorities in the year ahead is critical to their near-term success and long-term sustainability. Here are five security and productivity hacks that can help SMBs be effective and efficient in the months and years ahead.

#1 Protect Company Data

Data security might feel like a misguided priority during a pandemic. Still, the far-reaching costs and consequences of a breach make it an operational necessity moving forward. The average cost of a data breach approaches $4 million, and that doesn’t account for the less-quantifiable reputation and opportunity costs that plague SMBs after a breach.

As SMBs embrace a hybrid workforce that encourages flexibility and distribution, cyberattacks are becoming even more problematic. 91% of businesses report an increase in cyber-attacks since adopting remote work as everything from account takeovers to brute-force attacks have increased.

While SMBs should divert resources to upgrading their defensive postures, the vast majority of cyber-attacks and data breaches are made possible by employee accidents and negligence, making insider threats a solvable problem that can reduce exposure without requiring significant capital investments. SMBs should consider:

  • Implementing endpoint data loss prevention software
  • Providing comprehensive phishing and cybersecurity training
  • Conveying and enforcing data management standards
  • Ensuring that employees use work-issued devices.

In a post-pandemic economy, cybersecurity and data privacy will be bottom-line issues that home based businesses can’t afford to ignore.

#2 Redefine Productivity

Since COVID-19 made remote work a veritable necessity for many SMBs, leaders have been concerned about employee productivity. Simply put, businesses want to know that their employees are working even when they are away from the office.

In response, sales of employee monitoring software are surging as SMBs try to provide oversight and accountability in a remote work environment.

However, it appears that fears of long lunches and Netflix binge sessions on company time have been severely overblown. The average workday has increased by three hours since employees began working from home, a significant increase that’s having an inverse effect on productivity.

Therefore, SMBs should change their approach to monitoring and oversight in the year ahead. Rather than exclusively tracking mouse movements, app activity, or message frequency, consider an outcomes-based approach that identifies clear objectives for each employee while allowing for flexibility and personalization in implementing of these goals.

Activity and engagement are not worthless metrics, but those numbers alone don’t account for an employees’ productivity. By redefining productivity with outcomes, companies empower employees while ensuring SMBs achieve their objectives.

#3 Foster Work / Life Balance

Extended workdays, additional responsibilities, and a hybrid workforce has made work/life balance even more difficult to achieve. As Bloomberg reported back in April, “Six weeks into a nationwide work-from-home experiment with no end in sight, whatever boundaries remained between work and life have almost entirely disappeared.”

Unfortunately, several months later, this reality is unchanged, and it’s impacting work quality in profound ways. For example, 58% of employees report feeling burned out, a 13% increase since the pandemic began. This negatively impacts everything from productivity to retention.

It may be tempting to try reaping the benefits of a persistent, always-on work culture, but thriving SMBs will foster healthy work/life balance, seeing it as a way to maximize productivity and employee well-being. Top-down communication standards, workplace norms, and even mandated time off can encourage employees to maintain balance during a destabilizing time.

#4 Lighten the Workload

To be sure, even during a pandemic, SMBs need to function, employees need to be productive, and outcomes need to be pursued, making now the perfect time to consider how to work smarter, not harder.

For instance, SMBs might consider using AI and automation capabilities to bolster their cybersecurity capabilities while lessening the number of support tickets and security incidents that IT staff need to address. Similarly, using monitoring initiatives to make data-driven decisions about meeting schedules and other essential, but often productivity-reducing, tasks can help workers feel more capable and empowered to do their job with excellence.

#5 Move Together

The recent pandemic has produced an abundance of platitudes that collectively remind us that we are “in this together.” It might feel trite, but it’s true. Just like overcoming the immense healthcare, economic, and personal trials of 2020 required collective action, thriving home businesses will eschew the temptation of individualism, choosing instead to move together towards big goals and a prosperous future.

In the future, it’s projected that nearly three-quarters of companies will adopt a permanent remote or hybrid work arrangement. This creates a significant opportunity to rethink company culture, redefine the employee experience, and to create once-unimaginable cohesion among your team.

How this happens will look different for every organization but thriving SMBs will undoubtedly be defined by their unity.

Conclusion

The year ahead will present many challenges for SMBs. Recovering from the second once-in-a-lifetime economic recession, restoring confidence in systems, and renewing enthusiasm for products and services will demand an all-in approach that requires employees to be at their best.

The road ahead won’t be easy, but pursuing the right priorities makes it possible to create thriving organizations from a challenging time.

The post 5 Security & Productivity Hacks for Home Businesses appeared first on Home Business Magazine.

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