Virtual office set-ups have been a growing trend for several years, but the coronavirus pandemic has rapidly accelerated the home working movement. And although businesses were forced to make this transition at short notice, for many, the change will be permanent.

While companies have been quick to create virtual offices, finding the best ways for employees to communicate and collaborate, now is the time to look at the longer-term implications of remote working. Every aspect of managing your people needs to take place online – including HR interactions. Watertight security is needed to safeguard sensitive employee data and ensure you’re fully trusted by employees.

To help your business step-up data protection, let’s look at the danger of relying on non-secure systems to coordinate staff information. We’ll also explain how moving to an online HR system can both make life easier for your team and improve your level of data security.

The biggest HR data threat lies within your business

Data security is under closer scrutiny than ever before, as a result of GDPR. Companies have a legal responsibility to protect sensitive information, yet over half of businesses admit to experiencing a data breach in the past four years.

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It’s easy to assume that hackers or other external vulnerabilities are the source of data issues, but for most firms, the biggest threat comes from within. When you’re relying on emails and spreadsheets (which often aren’t password protected), it’s easy for someone to accidentally open the wrong document, or for confidential information to fall into the wrong hands.

COVID-19 has put these risk factors under a microscope. When the UK went into lockdown, more data than ever began flowing virtually between business colleagues – and not just customer information. Managers and HR teams have conducted staff wellbeing surveys and performance reviews online this year, which contain detailed personal information.

With 82% of organisations now planning to make switch to remote working permanent, digital HR documents can’t be seen as a ‘one off solution’ in an extraordinary year. Now is the time for your firm to invest in online systems that enable you to run employee HR programmes confidentially, safeguarding staff information.

Quality, quantity, digitally

When you’re looking at data security, there are two types of information to consider. The first is quantitative; data logs such as staff holiday, time off in lieu and number of absences. If your business is shift-based, you also need to hold a record of upcoming or planned schedules. These aren’t necessarily sensitive details, but they must be recorded accurately to manage people efficiently.

The second type of data your business controls is qualitative. Every well-run organisation should hold records on each employee, containing essential details such as their address, contact number, emergency contacts and medical conditions. They will also have an employment contract – which may need to be accessed in shift-based businesses, as team leaders need to ensure that assigned schedules correlate with contracted hours.

There are other useful qualitative documents that fall under the HR umbrella. These include performance reviews, annual objectives and targets, disciplinary records, and correspondence relating to people’s progression and general wellbeing, to name a few. All of this information is (a) difficult to collate if it’s spread across multiple emails, and (b) highly sensitive.

The simplest, most secure way to deal with both types of data is through a people management platform. On a functional level, it makes operations easier to coordinate because every type of interaction is centralised – holiday requests, shift planning, HR documentation and so forth. But more importantly, individual logins and customised access keep sensitive details secure.

Overview of employees by age group

Improving HR processes at every level

Moving your HR communications onto a people management platform creates a comprehensive employee record, without having to worry about sensitive documents going astray.

HR personnel can set access levels so that your employees are able view their own record and manage basic tasks, but they can’t see information beyond what’s relevant to them. Senior staff, however, will have enhanced access, so they can manage and contribute to each of their team members’ HR files, and gather valuable data insights on their performance.

Another advantage of digitising staff records is that the right software will enable HR teams to launch, track and resolve issues relating to employees in a single, paperless process – so staff can monitor all active discussions within a secure environment

Learning from disruption

2020 has been a disruptive year for businesses, in so many ways. The companies that emerge stronger from this year’s challenges will be the ones that learn from disruption and find stronger ways to operate. Internally, one major lesson is to ensure staff can trust your data security in a remote working environment.

While some business improvements involve complex change, improving data security by running HR matters through online software is a ‘quick win’. With the right people management platform, your business can be up and running with a secure, cloud-based system within days – starting 2021 as you mean to go on.

WhosOffice is currently developing and will soon be rolling out new HR functionality onto our shift planning platform.

HR and Document Storage platform currently being developed at WhosOffice
Sneak peek of our new HR Dashboard, keep checking our Road Map for more

Book a free trial to see what our people management software can do.

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