What is secure remote work?

Let's explore secure remote work

The traditional 9-to-5 workday in a physical office is no longer status quo. Even before the coronavirus pandemic forced most of the workforce into at least temporary remote status, 43% of the U.S. workforce had spent some amount of time working remotely.¹  Now, that number has increased dramatically, and organizations around the world are quickly realizing they need to enable secure remote work for the long-term.


Remote work has become mainstream

Whether the goal is a permanent shift, a flexible work environment, or an emergency plan, remote work capability is now essential to the way most organizations operate. People simply expect an intuitive, user-friendly experience, access to the tools and apps they prefer, and ways to get work done that feel agile and easy. You must be able to support your teams in doing their best work, anywhere, anytime, no longer confined to an office or restrained behind a firewall. That means adopting new tools and systems for working in the cloud.


Content is at the heart of secure remote work

The first step to supporting remote work is to give your people access to all the files and information they need to get work done from anywhere. If that content access is limited or hindered in some way — say they can view files but not easily edit them in line, or have to download various new apps they're not used to — they're not truly empowered to be productive. 


A centralized content platform like Box is the foundation of your work-from-anywhere initiative. It ensures that all your content is easily available (and secure) in the cloud. People can access and edit documents, spreadsheets, creative projects, financial information, legal contracts — anything they'd need to get work done and keep workflows moving forward. What's more, with Box Sign, anyone in your organization has the freedom to send documents out for e-signature at no additional cost. And they can work on these files from a desktop or a mobile device. After all, work from anywhere doesn't always mean work from home. Sometimes, it means working in a hotel, from mom's house, or in the kitchen while multitasking and making kids dinner.


Ensure security is at the center of your approach

Along with a shift to remote work comes the question of security. How do you protect all your content in the cloud? It might seem ideal to give your teams and external partners, customers, and vendors access to files and data from anywhere. But without security mechanisms in place, that idea strikes anxiety deep in the heart of IT leaders. Every company worries about intellectual property and data breaches, especially when dealing with sensitive customer information. And each industry has its own regulatory and compliance requirements, such as FINRA, HIPAA, and GxP — not to mention GDPR and CCPA. These are all factors that come into play when you consider how to facilitate work from anywhere.


So how do you make sure that your organization can collaborate smoothly and do its best work remotely — without worrying about security? How can you power secure remote work without hindering creativity and innovation?


Here are some key points to think about.

1. Choose tools that support secure remote work

To support an increasingly mobile and connected workforce, you have to provide people with the right productivity and collaboration tools. Yet, those tools aren't the same for every company or team. Even if your whole company is on board with the same interfaces and apps, what about external partners and vendors? You're working in G Suite, and they're converting everything to Microsoft Office.


Further complicating the goal of secure remote work, within the course of collaboration, people often need to use several different categories of software — not just writing and editing tools, but communication, project management, and specific line-of-business apps. To solve for this situation, we built Box on an open platform that connects to 1,400+ leading software providers, including the apps you and your teams already know and love. Here are a few that specifically support secure remote work.

  • Productivity tools: Pre-built integrations with productivity suites like G Suite and Office 365 from within Box avoid interrupting your pace of work
  • Collaboration workspaces: Deep integrations with key collaboration workspaces like Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Hangouts help connect teams and conversations to content
  • Video communication: With our latest Zoom integration, people can share files directly from their Box account into a Zoom Meeting using the screen sharing function, without ever leaving the Zoom app
  • Line-of-business apps: Support front- and back-office departments with critical line-of-business applications like Salesforce, NetSuite, and AutoCAD
  • Security: Apps like Okta, onelogin, and Azure Active Directory not only support single sign-on, but mobile device management and cloud security as well

As you're building your secure remote work strategy, it's critical to choose which best-of-breed tools will best support all the different types of stakeholders who need access to your content. On Box, people can stick with all the apps they're used to, while you keep content under your control.


2. Start with everything in one place

Content and information sprawl: It’s real and it's growing. In fact, the IDC predicts that in 2025 the world will have created 175 ZB of data.² To put that in perspective, if you were to download all that data onto today's largest hard drive on the market, you'd need 12.5 billion hard drives — far, far more than they make.³


Quickly growing content is increasingly scattered across servers and applications in the cloud. Email sharing is rampant and highly insecure, with files duplicated and copied countless times. No one knows which version is current. It's simply too hard for people to securely access and share the information they need to get their work done with teammates, partners, and customers outside their corporate boundaries. This has resulted in a lot of shadow IT and data silos — not to mention the hit productivity takes.


By centralizing content in Box, you offer your business more than just a single repository for cloud storage. Users get a rich and simple collaboration experience on any device, while IT gets the granular security controls it needs to support sharing with internal and external teams. In short, your people save time and effort, with consistent access to the right content in a single location. This ensures that a secure remote work strategy doesn't inadvertently add to the noise and confusion.


3. Make the experience both secure and usable for everyone

As the flow of content and volume of interaction increases, and the number of people touching content expands, the potential for risk typically expands, too. More and more devices, applications, people, and processes are using content, so IT teams need a centralized way to control and manage access. Without a layer of admin control, there's no true way to secure remote work


At Box, we enable collaboration while preventing security vulnerabilities, governing all of your content, and responding to threats. Here's how we do it.

  • Built-in security: Security features are baked into the core of Box; capabilities like 2FA, SSO, device trust, and DLP help keep your invaluable business information from falling into the wrong hands
  • Centralized control and visibility: The Box Admin Console gives you the access management you need to centrally manage security and access across remote teams — and comprehensive IT controls let you manage how your teams collaborate and share content, which ensures you're staying secure and compliant
  • Simple governance and compliance: With simplified retention policies and compliance requirements to support the full range of industry and geographic-specific regulations, you properly retain documents such as employee information or financial records
  • Threat detection and smart access: Box Shield alerts you about suspicious behavior, such as unusually high downloads of content in Box, and automatically classifies your confidential content to prevent leaks in real time

With content centralized on Box, you can protect and govern the flow of information within, across, and way beyond your company. You get full visibility and control without hindering collaboration, productivity, and user experience.


Resources for secure remote work

Remote work is only going to become more of a focus in the future. As a cloud collaboration platform, Box has long been a part of how our customers support secure remote work and enable mobile workflows. Your teams can securely store and manage all of their files while supporting real-time collaboration with partners and vendors. And for IT, setting up secure remote work is incredibly simple. With just a few clicks, you're up and running.


There are plenty of resources available for companies navigating the shift to secure remote work. Our Work Unleashed page is a great place to get started, where we've compiled in-depth guides and other assets to empower you and your teams during this transition. We've also had conversations with a wide range of Box customers— from Nationwide to GE to Shopify — on how well prepared they were to make a shift to remote work, and they've shared valuable takeaways and insights. You can watch the videos and read their stories on our Work Unleashed resource hub.


In addition, we offer a number of on-demand education classes and a one-hour, instructor-led User Essentials course where users learn how to navigate their Box account and build an environment that promotes collaboration with colleagues. You’ll discover tools that eliminate the need for email attachments, allow you to collaborate with people outside the firewall, and make it easy for you to access your content and unleash your best work when on the go.


After all, the cloud has always been about helping connect people and making them more powerful than they could be on their own. The easier we make it for people to work together, no matter where they are, the more we can all achieve.


¹ Out of the Office: More People Are Working Remotely, Survey Finds, 15 February 2017, The New York Times

² The Digitization of the World From Edge to Core, 2018, IDC

³ IDC: Expect 175 zettabytes of data worldwide by 2025, 3 December 2018, Network World