How To Onboard Remote Employees Securely

How To Onboard Remote Employees Securely

Employee onboarding is a critical moment for your organization and the new hire. Get it right, and you will find that everyone achieves productivity quickly. Further, your new hire will be positioned for success, and you will make the most of their positive attitude. On the other hand, a failed or poorly coordinated employee onboarding process results in delays and frustration for everybody involved.

The Remote Employee Security Challenge

Remote employee working arrangements are booming in 2020, and it is unlikely that this trend will disappear anytime soon. You may no longer have the option of asking employees to come to a single location and go through training as a cohort. Instead, your employee onboarding playbook will need to be revised and adapted to a “remote first” context. For some of us, this is scary and unknown territory. There are ways to navigate this territory if you leverage these tips.

Onboarding Remote Employees Securely: Your Checklist For Success

For this onboarding process to unfold securely, you need cooperation from multiple stakeholders. At a minimum, you need support from the hiring manager, the newly hired employee, and human resources. However, you might also want to arrange for a peer mentor and a center of remote working excellence if you have a large number of employees in this situation.

1. Evaluate Your Forecast Remote Employee Onboarding Requirements

Your remote onboarding plan should correspond to your planned workforce decisions. For example, if you are only going to hire a handful of remote employees in the next 12 months, a simple process will be adequate. On the other hand, if you are hiring dozens, hundreds or more employees on a remote basis, a more robust process will be needed.

To develop a reasonable forecast for your remote employee onboarding, you will need to do some research inside the organization. First, check your remote working policies to see what is possible or encouraged at the company. Second, check with human resources regarding their observations for recent hires. For the rest of this article, we will assume your organization needs to build a remote employee onboarding process that will need to operate at scale for the long term.

2. Identify Required Systems and Hardware Required For Employee Success

Put yourself in the shoes of a newly hired remote employee. They will need an “office in a box” to work productively. As you develop this package to be sent to new hires, critically evaluate each time from a security perspective.

To get your process started, use the following self-assessment questions:

●  Work Phone. Is the phone equipped with a remote deletion or tracking options in case of theft or loss? These protective measures are vital since smartphones are relatively easy to lose and are filled with sensitive data.

●  What Privacy Safeguards Do You Provide? Your employees may be working at home and other locations with less than ideal security arrangements. Therefore, review the privacy safeguards that you offer to remote employees so they can protect sensitive data. At a minimum, we recommend providing VPN access. For more insight into this technology, check out our previous article: What You Need To Know About VPN Security.

●  Is There An Easy Way For Remote Employees To Request The Access They Need? Sometimes, remote employees have a more difficult time obtaining the resources they need at work. Don’t let this happen to your newly hired staff! For example, offer Apollo to all employees so that they can obtain password resets whenever they need it.

3. Clarify High-Risk Security Needs For Remote Employees

In a remote employee situation, security requirements need to evolve. For example, you can no longer count on the benefits of an office’s physical security. Instead, physical security quality will vary considerably depending on the circumstances of each remote employee. As an employer, you need to pick and choose how to address these risks.

Therefore, we suggest developing a simple list of dos and don’ts to address high-risk remote employee security concerns. Consider the following ideas as you develop guidelines for your organization. Once you have these guidelines in place, share them with new hires as part of the onboarding process.

●  Printer Access. Printed documents are complicated to control in a remote working context. Therefore, you might consider prohibiting or logging all remote printing for security.

●  Hardcopy Information Handling. If remote employees need access to hardcopy materials (e.g., contracts), you will need to provide a secure storage option for those materials.

●  Hardware Inventory. Ask managers to periodically verify the company hardware (e.g., laptop, tablet, phone, USB drives, etc.) that remote employees have.

●  Support For IT Security. Provide clear instructions to help employees get support by phone, email and other means when they have questions. As more questions come in, consider publishing a “frequently asked questions” document for remote employees to consult.

●  Shared Responsibility For IT Security. Emphasize that every employee has a role to play in protecting company, customer and employee data and assets. The central IT security team will do what they can, but it is up to each individual to do the right thing as well.

4. Offer Remote Employee Security Training

Many professionals, even outside of specialist IT security groups, understand the overall value of IT security. However, new hires cannot be expected to understand your organization’s specific practices. That’s why we suggest offering a remote employee security training session.

At a minimum, provide a “cheat sheet” with tips, techniques and where to get further help. However, this approach may not give a high enough level of skills in your staff. Instead, consider offering a few one-hour sessions where employees can attend a training session and ask questions. Provide as many examples of real-world security situations to bring your principles to life.

5. Practice Continuous Improvement For Your Remote Employee Security

Nobody expects to have remote employee security perfect, especially when you are getting started. Therefore, we recommend setting a calendar reminder to seek feedback and suggestions to improve your onboarding process every quarter. Each new tip and refinement you add to the onboarding process will make your organization more secure.

Written by Nelson Cicchitto