Gone are the days when work predominantly takes place in an office building. In the last few years, corporate teams have experienced a big shift to remote work. And while this change has a lot of positives—including increased flexibility, more diversified teams, and the ability to work with clients across the country—it comes with a new set of challenges.
Remote teams now must address how to virtually adapt to limited face-to-face interactions, which means establishing effective communication methods beyond email. Additionally, these new collaboration methods must ensure that confidential and sensitive information is securely handled—particularly important for regulated industries. So, we’ve put together a few tips to help safely enhance virtual communication.
When you can’t simply walk down the hallway to ask your coworker a question, virtual collaboration tools make it quick and easy to stay connected. Platforms like Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Google Meet allow teams to:
Instant message individuals or groups
Edit documents collaboratively
Place voice calls
Hold video conferences
Remote teams need to set up a variety of virtual collaboration occasions, such as all-employee meetings, project-related chats, and 1:1 check-ins to stay connected.
Of course, the tools your office chooses must be secure, especially for confidential document sharing and sensitive information collection. The risk of data breaches and unauthorized access is higher with remote work, but this risk can be mitigated by setting clear protocols for each virtual channel and implementing cybersecurity measures.
Remote teams need to implement a few communication channels, including email, virtual meetings, and direct messaging if they want to ensure seamless communication with colleagues. To do this, it’s imperative to create communication protocols for each channel.
Chat and Email Response Time Expectations: Teams that use direct messaging platforms, like Microsoft Teams or Slack, to collaborate should know what working hours they are expected to be online and active on chats. The same goes for email expectations. Also, encourage coworkers to use status update features, such as in a meeting, offline, available, or work-focused so everyone knows when they can be reasonably contacted.
Thread Usage in Direct Messaging Platforms: Establish guidelines for when to use a group or company-wide channel to collaborate with more than one person and when to directly message coworkers individually.
Video and Audio Meeting Etiquette: Provide expectations around camera usage, meeting recording, and audio preferences for more effective virtual meetings. Keep in mind that some teams prefer everyone turn their camera on for smaller meetings to encourage real-time collaboration, while other times having everyone’s cameras and microphones turned off helps eliminate distractions during larger team meetings. Outline whether certain meetings, like company-wide calls or project check-ins, need to be recorded.
Additionally, security protocols must be clearly outlined. Clients entrust their personal, legal, health, and financial information to all kinds of businesses, which is why all brands have to be clear about regulatory requirements for each platform.
Employees must be cautious when sharing sensitive information across communication channels. The company’s compliance officer should provide clear expectations for secure file sharing, such as only allowing file sharing through encrypted platforms, like OneDrive or SharePoint.
Integrating cybersecurity measures into the team’s remote culture is the best way to protect sensitive financial information. A multi-layered approach makes it harder for cyber attacks to happen, which is why we recommend these three security practices.
With remote employees, firms have less control over how their teams are connecting to the Internet. If an employee connects to a public network, like free WiFi in a coffee shop or library, data can be exposed to cyberattacks. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) creates an encrypted connection between two networks–an employee’s device and the company’s network or sensitive financial database. This adds an extra layer of security, making it harder for cybercriminals to gain access to confidential information.
Requiring employees to use Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) for all accounts and systems at a company is becoming standard. It simply asks users to verify their identity through more than one method, like passwords and temporary passcodes. If an employee’s login information was compromised, having MFA setup could prevent someone from breaking into their files.
In a technology-forward world, it’s essential to stay in the know about updated security practices. Remote teams should work closely with their compliance officer to implement the latest security practices and complete training on how to safely handle confidential information.
VPNs provide a secure conduit for data transmission, crucial for safeguarding financial information—especially in remote work environments. Meanwhile, MFA adds another layer of defense and user authentication. These measures create a formidable defense against cyber threats. However, when teams have unique workflows and client portfolios, it’s imperative to tailor additional security measures to specific needs. Ready to fortify your security? Our detailed insights for financial security protocols can help any brand that uses confidential information take action.
Use secure platforms for messaging, editing, calls, and conferences.
Establish clear guidelines and expectations for virtual channels.
Implement VPN, MFA, and stay updated on cybersecurity practices.
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