Members of the mobile workforce – and the companies that employ them – face a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it’s desirable for mobile workers to remain as productive as possible when they’re on the road. However, not all venues that accommodate these workers are entirely conducive to productivity.
What’s more, hackers routinely "sniff out" unsecured laptops, smartphones and other handheld devices in use at coffee shops, libraries, restaurants, and other locations, making special precautions imperative if data security is to be maintained in public places.
Below is a brief look at the best mobile workforce management tips, with some essentials suggestions on how to protect devices when using Wi-Fi hotspots.
Certain national restaurant chains and coffee shops now provide free Wi-Fi to patrons, as do local cafes and restaurants. Bookstores like Barnes & Noble, along with office supply stores, have also jumped on the free Wi-Fi bandwagon. Even large public spaces and parks, including Millennium Park in Chicago, Ill. and Washington Square Park in New York City, N.Y., offer free Wi-Fi to individuals who need or want to get work done beyond the confines of their offices.
If possible, mobile workers should scout out establishments before setting up camp there. Some locations are noisy, making phone conversations difficult. Others want to rapidly "turn over" tables and efficiently handle busy meal crowds, spurring them to limit the duration of patrons’ access to their Wi-Fi connections.
Hotels, too, represent a viable option for achieving mobile workforce productivity. Many properties tout a full complement of mobile amenities, ranging from ample workspace to high outlet availability and everything in between. Wi-Fi has become widely available in guest rooms, but in some hotels, particularly downtown locations, guests must pay to make a Wi-Fi connection. Hotels are also creating"worker-friendly" lobbies equipped with such perks as touchscreens that display weather forecasts, travel information and similar valuable data.
Need a more professional setting? Shared workplaces are becoming more popular in areas on the West Coast and will likely gain traction in the rest of the country soon.
These offices combine the concept of office-space rental and on-demand availability. Mobile workers can rent locations on an hourly or daily basis, rather than paying for weeks or months at a time.
One caveat to keep in mind: Establishing a temporary mobile office at any of the above-mentioned locations may bring with it the challenge of slow connection speeds, particularly when there are a lot of users on the network. Additionally, most of the above locations do not have onsite IT staff to fix technical issues. So, it’s best to have a backup location (or two) planned when on the road.
Mobile workforce management security tips
Just as the mobile workforce is growing bigger every day, hackers are becoming smarter and more effective in their quest to infiltrate the masses. To minimize the potential for hacking as well as its consequences, take the following steps:
Use advanced threat protection. Deck your device with comprehensive security that blocks the cornucopia of malware that’s floating around. And don’t forget firewall and network monitor protection; both are important for fending off hostile intruders.
Make sure you’re encrypted. Always look for the "HTTPS" in the URL bar when using public Wi-Fi hotspots. The added"s" means that communication between you’re browser and the website you’re accessing is encrypted. You can further protect private information (like passwords and credit card numbers) from keyloggers with an encryption-security product.
Perform online financial activity at home. Take further precautions with your financial security, do your online banking at home, preferably from a WPA2-protected network.
Delete important company data. If you don’t want to take any chances, remove all sensitive company information and keep it stored in a remote cloud-based location. Not only is this a sound security measure, but it also adds convenience, as you’ll be able to access vital information from any device you’re using, anywhere.
Ensure security updates are performed routinely. Nothing beats cloud-based security when it comes to keeping current with updates. The cloud automatically keeps you up to date so you can spend your time focused on meeting deadlines and making clients, or your boss, happy.
Keep a lookout for shoulder-surfing activity. It seems so elementary, the act of stealing information by looking over another person’s shoulder to see his or her screen. But it happens. Be aware of your device’s screen angle and who’s sitting near you. Somebody could be seeing what you are seeing, or even worse, taking a video of it.
Don’t forget about your smartphones and iPads. While smartphones and iPads can’t do the heavy lifting of laptops, they play a vital role in the receiving and sending of business communication. Integrate mobile protection into your security strategy so all endpoint devices are covered.
By selecting the right remote locations and security measures, mobile workers set themselves up for optimized productivity while connected to public Wi-Fi hotspots.