In contrast to classic telecommuting models (working from home), ‘mobile work’ allows freedom of choice with regard to location and working hours.  In other words, employees can work whenever they like, and – more importantly – wherever they like.

The mobile work trend is on the rise

Mobile work is increasingly replacing the classic telecommuting arrangements that once involved working from home, using equipment provided by the employer, in an environment which was inspected at least once by the employer. The latest trend of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) points in a similar direction. Mobile work not only cuts costs and personnel requirements for employers; it also offers numerous advantages to employees. Depending on circumstances or even on their mood, employees can choose to work from home, on the road, in their favourite café, in a co-working space or in a library.

Many people regard mobile work as a key ingredient of a healthy work/life balance. Young digital natives prefer (and demand!) flexible workplace arrangements, while older employees are attracted by the opportunity to juggle work with the varying demands of family life, whether caring for young children or aging parents.

Despite – or perhaps because of – the lack of regulations governing mobile work, there are certain aspects which you should always take into consideration, depending on the type of work you do and the place you choose to work in.

Requirements for mobile work

Mobility is inherent to some tasks but precluded entirely by others. However, this is not the only important factor. Whether or not mobile work is a viable option also depends on the size of the respective company, the attitude managers take to the subject, the level of social acceptance, personal aptitude, and – last but not least – the technological wherewithal.

Integration in organisational processes

Not only does mobile work have to be viable in theory; it also has to be viable in practice. In other words, it has to be integrable into existing company processes. In some cases, for example, tasks can only be completed by liaising directly and immediately with colleagues; other tasks involve face-to-face interaction with customers.

Is a mobile workplace by definition a free workplace?

In principle, yes. Nonetheless, various requirements apply in certain cases.

  1. A discreet environment
    If you need to make lots of telephone calls, you will need a quiet place to work so as not to disturb others, and also to ensure confidential conversations are not overheard.
  2. High-speed internet
    Obviously, you need internet access – but more specifically, you will need broadband, because slow internet will also slow down your work. In general, most cafés and coworking spaces offer broadband. However, you will need to check. Most train stations and airports also offer the required infrastructure. If you’re working somewhere that doesn’t have broadband, you’ll need a good data plan instead. The prices for mobile data have been falling now for some time. However, caution is required; public networks are often used for attacks, so you will also need:
  3. A secure connection
    For data protection purposes and also to protect yourself against cyber attacks, you will need a secure internet connection. This could be a VPN (Virtual Private Network) or a TLS-based solution such as the SecurePIM Gateway.

Occupational safety

Companies are not legally required to apply classic occupational safety measures to mobile work arrangements. Nonetheless, mobile workers are well advised to comply with the relevant regulations, since these are designed to provide protection.

The more your private life intersects with your work life, the more necessary it becomes to draw clear dividing lines between the two. For example, not only should you adhere to the specified number of working hours; you should also safeguard your mobile workplace against unauthorised access. If these aspects are not monitored centrally by the employer, employees are personally responsible for ensuring compliance with minimum standards.

Data protection

Under no circumstances should data be endangered or compromised by a mobile work arrangement. Employees have the same obligation to exercise due diligence as at any other workplace. The GDPR has raised the benchmark considerably in this respect. If you use a mobile device for both private and professional purposes, you are legally required to ensure there is a clean division between the two sets of data. You are not allowed to ‘privately’ access personal details from your professional environment, nor vice versa.

This is where it gets complicated. Because in most cases, people aren’t protected by the same technological framework as to be found in an office workplace. Thus if you’re a mobile worker, it’s important to take all the necessary safety precautions on the devices you use. The biggest problem with mobile devices is that virtually all apps request access to most of your data. And who bothers scrolling to the end before they click on ‘I agree’? Or knows exactly what data the app is accessing, or what it is being used for? If you store business data on your smartphone or tablet, you need to be extremely careful when you install or use apps. One of the recommendations in their list is data encryption. In some business contexts affected by the GDPR, this is regarded as an ‘appropriate technical and organisational measure’ to protect data.

Data security

One of the greatest challenges in mobile work is safeguarding data. Obviously, it’s somewhat easier to protect sensitive data against unauthorised access in an office environment, surrounded by an extensive IT infrastructure. Problems are much more likely to arise in the context of mobile work, not only because the technological framework is different here, but also because there are so many more points of intersection with people outside of the company. This is what makes mobile devices disproportionately more vulnerable to attack than fixed work environments in safe offices.

SecurePIM: Container app as the smart solution

So what’s the answer? The answer provided by Virtual Solution is SecurePIM. SecurePIM is a container app which can be used on the respective mobile device to create a virtual environment which cleanly and permanently separates business data from the unsafe standard environment. Even if someone gains unauthorised access to the device, they won’t get any further because they can’t access the business content without access rights for SecurePIM. Moreover, SecurePIM is administered centrally by the company itself, which means the company can delete all data remotely if they suspect unauthorised access – without rendering the mobile device unusable.

SecurePIM, however, is useful for more than just extreme emergencies. Thanks to high security standards and the encryption not only of files but also of communication channels, it reliably wards off attempts to intercept data during transmission. For this purpose, SecurePIM uses the TLS-based SecurePIM Gateway together with encryption for all communication channels and email encryption via S/MIME. For particularly high-profile jobs, it can also be used in conjunction with smart cards.

Summary

SecurePIM is a safe container app that enables mobile workers to comply with the strictest security standards and data protection requirements. This is particularly important given the fact that the more popular mobile work becomes, the more new threats arise.