The lines between personal and professional life are becoming increasingly blurred. People are often now spending more hours in the office than they do at home. Yet, as many as a quarter do corporate tasks outside of the office. Hinting that the ideal work-life balance may simply not be achievable in modern society.
The lack of separation of what should be carried out at work and what can be done at home could be caused by a rapid rise in the amount of digital information we are all contending with. Both our personal and professional lives are now reliant on such data – storing in social media and email accounts, digital documents and shared folders. A recent Kaspersky report has found that those in employment are often disorganized in how they manage files and credentials.
So, whilst IT departments need to carry the burden of protecting staff from ever-growing cyber threats, the sheer volume of information needed to do jobs effectively has created a huge pressure on employees to help keep the organizations they work for secure.
The death of the work-life balance
Working in an office from nine to five has clear benefits. Steady employment, steady income and steady working hours. Except, the era of the nine to five has long gone. We are all now expected to stay at work a little longer, whether it is for a one-off meeting, a tight deadline or even the Christmas party. For millions of workers, working late is necessary to do their jobs effectively. In fact, it is estimated that staff in Mexico are at work 43 hours a week, with workers in Costa Rica, Greece and South Korea not too far behind.
Such circumstances, while accepted, have led to workers juggling their professional and personal lives across both their workplaces and homes. Leaving personal belongings at the office and doing domestic tasks at our desk is a common occurrence, as we try to strike a balance between our personal and professional lives. It isn’t uncommon for workers to have a change of clothes in their office, so why wouldn’t we do the same for digital information? Having access to the data we need, regardless of its use, at both our house and our office makes life easier.
The big problem with this behaviour for businesses is that staff can become complacent with where they store corporate information. Workers who are comfortable storing it on their personal devices are not being cautious enough to keep it secure. Information can be compromised and left at risk of cyber-theft if it becomes too accessible. This, of course, has far-reaching consequences for the affected business.
Businesses left managing data and their workforce
As workers struggle to manage their personal and business information, businesses are left with the extremely tough task of overseeing an ever-growing number of files and data, while also keeping them secure. The Kaspersky report revealed that 80% of employees don’t think they are responsible for ensuring emails, files and documents have the appropriate access permissions, regardless of whether or not they have created them.
Sensitive personal data, payment details and authorisation codes are just a few examples of the data businesses rely on daily to run efficiently. But staffs are not storing these details securely or properly. Only just over half (56%) of employees delete outdated items from their email inbox on a regular basis and a mere third (34%) get rid of outdated files on their hard drives,
This digital clutter becomes an even greater issue when information is stored in places where it is difficult to control, such as in the cloud, in shared folders or file transfers. Add to this the rapid rise in the number of files being generated and it becomes harder for organizations to manage corporate information. Despite this, they are still responsible for ensuring sensitive or confidential data isn’t easy to access and find by those who are not permitted to see it. If an employee can stumble across their colleagues’ salaries, for example, then why not a hacker?
Businesses rely on their staff to support them in managing data securely. If employees and organizations can tackle the challenge of information security together, it is more likely to foster a corporate ethos and culture where everyone cares about protecting the business and helps one another to achieve it. This is where educating employees is so important, so they understand the importance of data security, their role in it and the steps they need to take to keep data safe. Only then will employees better manage their professional and personal information.
Relieving the pressure
Modern working habits may have resigned the concept of a work-life balance to the brink of extinction, but businesses still have a chance to turn things around for their workers and the security of corporate data. This may seem difficult at first, as you need to retain employees’ freedom to do their jobs well, whilst reminding them to remain cautious about how they use and access corporate information.
One way to alleviate this pressure is to encourage staff to leave the office on time and only put in extra hours when it is completely necessary. This not only gives employees more time to spend with their family or socialize with their friends, but also allows them to manage their personal information at home. Additionally, while working from home does have its benefits; businesses need to ensure their staffs are properly equipped to keep corporate data out of the wrong hands.
For instance, companies can ensure information remains safe by installing dedicated security solutions onto personal devices, such as mobile devices that employees normally used for working purposes. Coupled with security awareness training, these measures can help staff improve their personal digital lives too. Organizations can show they not only care about their employees’ work-life balance, but also want them to stay protected at home.
By introducing rigorous processes to protect corporate information (such as endpoint security, two-factor authentication, strong passwords, security awareness training and corporate cybersecurity policies) businesses can grant access only to those who need it. Such measures relieve pressure on employees and reduce the risk of data falling into the wrong hands. With a bit of understanding, organizations can revive the work-life balance and stop digital clutter from leaving them vulnerable to cybercrime.