Skip to content

Security Measures to Consider as Employees Return to the Office

Best Cybersecurity Practices for Your Employees as They Return to the Office during COVID-19

At long last, the COVID-19 pandemic seems to be slowing down, at least in the USA. Although millions of more people still need to be vaccinated, and there is a chance that the coronavirus will mutate and become dangerous once again, the next few months will likely continue to see a gradual lifting of pandemic restrictions. Some companies are already starting to ask their workers to return to the office. Even though many people are eager to get back to the way things were before the pandemic, office administrators and company executives need to consider several significant security measures as their workers return.

There are two primary security measures to keep in mind: digital security measures and pandemic security policies.


Security Measure #1: Remote Work and Digital Security Challenges

The COVID-19 pandemic caused a wide range of changes to the greater economy, but the most widespread of all was the sudden (and largely required) shift to remote work. According to  Mimecast Limited , 71% of employees are currently working from home.



Although remote work will no longer be strictly necessary once the pandemic is fully over, many companies are considering allowing certain segments of their workforce to continue to work from home, at least on a part-time basis. But while remote work can be convenient and even more productive for certain employees, it also introduces unique security challenges.


VPNs and Antivirus

One of the top cybersecurity recommendations we have is that organizations should look into upgrading or establishing VPN and antivirus software and policies for their workforces if they haven’t yet already. VPNs or virtual private networks help to mask IP addresses and prevent hackers or other cybercriminals from infiltrating your organization. Antivirus prevents malware and other digital threats from attacking your company’s data or systems.
VPNs can be beneficial for remote workers, especially if they like to do some of their work in public places on local Wi-Fi networks (such as coffee shops, etc.). Companies looking to maximize security should make VPN usage a requirement and educate their employees about how to use these new digital tools correctly and safely.
While VPNs can be very helpful for maximizing company security, it’s also important to remember that they aren’t foolproof. A VPN doesn’t prevent an employee’s computer from being hacked, so they still need to practice good digital hygiene to prevent compromising their company’s security as they work from afar.

Remote Log-In Protocols

By the same token, companies should endeavor to educate their employees about secure remote login protocols. Here are just a couple of ideas:
  • Never leave a work laptop or computer unattended
  • Never share workplace login info with anyone
  • Don’t use public Wi-Fi with a work computer (even with a VPN)
  • And so on.
By establishing remote login protocols now, any remote employees who continue working for your company from home won’t compromise your organizational security or allow bad actors into your systems.

These guidelines might seem like common sense for your responsible employees, but making them into companywide policies can protect your company in the event of legal trouble and help you to crack down on compliance if necessary.

Educating employees is essential for security; be sure to stay on top of current trends to help you avoid cyberattacks.

Have Cyber Hygiene Training Ready for Employees that Return to the Office

Beyond these remote work-specific tips, it’s never a bad idea to have “cyber-hygiene” seminars and quarterly meetings, especially for your in-person employees.
Digital hygiene is surprisingly relaxed in many organizations across America. If you want your workplace to be as secure as possible, you have to teach employees how to practice good digital hygiene, such as not leaving ID badges or other identifying information around, never sharing workplace passwords with anyone else, and more.
Cyber-hygiene training seminars allow everyone to get back on the same page as they re-acclimate to working in an office environment. Many employees have likely lessened their security practices during the pandemic, as many of them have primarily been working from home, but it’s time to get back to work and strive to keep the workplace secure in our modern, digital-focused environment.

Security Measure #2: COVID-19 Concerns – How to Keep Employees Safe

The other significant aspect of security as your workforce returns to the office focuses on pandemic concerns. Even though many companies are now allowing their employees to return to the office, we’re still in the midst of a pandemic. Even with increased vaccination rates throughout the country, it will likely still be some months before everyone is immune to the virus.
To that end, you should keep these strategies in mind to keep your employees safe as they return to the office.

Update Everyone on New Policies – Including Security Protocols – As They Return to the Office

Any office targeting 100% security and health compliance should update their current employees about new policies they might have implemented during the pandemic, especially the policies developed specifically for returning to work in the office.
Many of your employees might have even forgotten the standard security protocols in place before the pandemic. For both of these reasons, consider sending out a security protocol packet or email to employees before their first scheduled day of work back in the office.
For example, your office might consider installing a new security checkpoint before employees can enter your building. You can take the temperatures of ingoing and outgoing employees at this checkpoint, ask for ID badges to scan people in, and more. Still, this new security measure will go over a lot more smoothly with your employees if you alert them to it before they arrive.

Vaccination Requirements and Regular Tests

Your company might also consider adopting vaccination requirements, especially if you plan to bring your workers back into the office in waves. Vaccination requirements help ensure the lowest possible likelihood of COVID-19 transmission and bring peace of mind to all the employees already in the office.
If everyone at your physical workplace has been vaccinated, the chance of a coronavirus outbreak in your office is near zero.
Additionally, regular COVID-19 tests can help to bolster peace of mind and reinforce a sense of security and efficiency at your workplace. Tests should be used if vaccination is not yet available for everyone in your area or in the weeks and months leading up to 100% vaccination for your workforce.
Of course, these measures aren’t possible for every company, and some organizations may need all hands on deck ASAP. Still, if it’s at all possible to mandate vaccination before a return to office work, you’ll do any returning employees a big favor, maximizing their security to the best of your ability.

Social Distancing and Physical Barriers as Employees Return to the Office

As you enforce regular COVID-19 tests for your employees, you should still mandate some social distancing and physical barrier rules, particularly in crowded areas. Masks are always a good idea, especially as employees will still pass one another closely even while they generally adhere to social distancing restrictions.
Physical barriers, such as enclosed office cubicles, can help to bring privacy back to the workplace and prevent the spread of micro-droplets if employees want to take their masks off while seated at their desks.
These measures may seem a little restrictive, but they can help lower the likelihood of a COVID-19 flare-up. Even better, you can reassure your employees that these measures are only temporary until everyone in your office has been vaccinated or until the risk of COVID-19 subsides.

Keep Health and Disinfectant Supplies Readily Available

Lastly, you’ll want to keep lots of health supplies – such as hand sanitizer, soap and water, and antibacterial wipes – on hand and within easy access for your employees. Even once they get vaccinated, many employees may want to maintain top-tier hygiene to protect people they have back home.
Giving them the tools to stay healthy and to keep their workplaces clean will show your employees that you care about the safety of them and their families and will help facilitate an environment of safety and trust.

Find the Right Balance Between Productivity and Security as Your Employees Return to the Office

All of these security tips are crucial, but it’s important as an office administrator or executive to strike a balance between productivity and security. The point of bringing everyone back to the office is to bring collaboration back, as well as make everyone feel like they’re part of a team once again.
With this in mind, consider asking your employees what security measures or restrictions they feel would best suit them and their needs. An open-door policy (and establishing an ongoing dialogue between yourself and your workforce) is the best way to make sure you can keep your organization safe and secure, plus make your employees feel heard.
For instance, your office employees might not feel that masks are necessary if you have a vaccination requirement. Alternatively, several people who work for you might still feel strongly about social distancing and maintaining health protocols over the next couple of months because they have an immunocompromised family member at home. Regardless, having these discussions can help you calibrate your security response, at least regarding COVID-19 policies.
If your company is still working partially or fully remote, check out the blog post below for tips on how to maintain the cybersecurity of your remote employees.

COVID-19 has been challenging for us all, but things are starting to look up again. As we stick to secure practices and finish strong, we can reach the second half of 2021 healthier and more productive than ever before. 

If you’d like to find out where you company stands in terms of cybersecurity, schedule a call with us or take our free, self-guided IT Security Risk Assessment


Related Blogs