Stay-at-Home Workforce: Best Practices for Compliant Adoption of Collaboration Platforms
Working from home — the once-a-week perk some businesses offer to attract talent — has suddenly become the standard “day at the office” for nearly all office jobs in recent times. COVID-19 is forcing businesses of all sizes around the world to put their disaster preparedness to the test to support an almost entirely remote workforce.
Even for the few companies that were ready to deploy compliant collaboration tools, the pandemic is spotlighting the challenges of capturing communication records in heavily regulated industries.
On our latest webinar, Shaun Hurst, Director of Solutions Engineering at Smarsh, and Dean Elwood, CEO and founder of Umony Limited, discussed how firms in the UK and around the world can help their remote staff balance productivity and collaboration with compliance.
Identify Remote Communication Habits and Common Tools
If there was no pandemic and it was business as usual, organizations would still need to recognize that the way workers communicate is changing. Email is no longer the dominant channel, with more teams taking to collaborative technology like Microsoft Teams, Slack and Zoom for quick interactions over chat, phone or video.
Even texting is changing. Texting apps like WhatsApp, WeChat and Facebook Messenger are experiencing huge growth as they allow more comprehensive communication than the basic SMS or MMS.
Within 10 days of most businesses shifting to WFH environments, communication technologies are seeing substantial bumps in activity:
- Microsoft Teams meetings, calls and conferences up 500%
- Call recordings are up 600%
- SMS recording up 250%
- Average mobile call duration up 300%
“People are realizing the benefits of communicating and collaborating with the tools we have available to us today,” said Hurst. “Chat and instant messaging have become dominant and the immediacy of this form of communication is attractive and a little bit addictive.”
Where Does Records Compliance Fit in WFH Workplaces?
Compliance remains a priority whether work is completed at home or in the office. When major banks are allowing their traders to execute orders from home, there are still rules to follow.
“The same regulatory obligations apply, which can be a challenge when considering the variety of methods of communication that are available to them while working from home,” said Hurst. “They still need to ensure that their actions are regulated and that they are being responsible.”
Despite the pandemic, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK still expects firms to maintain appropriate records during this period.
“Firms need to continue meeting regulatory obligations,” said Hurst. “For example, if a firm closes a call center and requires staff to work from other locations — including their homes — then the firm should establish appropriate systems and controls to ensure it maintains appropriate records.”
It gets even more complicated for executing orders from home, he added.
“Not only do traders need to record all their phone calls, but every other form of communication that could potentially end with a trade.”
Balancing Compliance with Working Remotely
There are risks when working remotely, including potential cybersecurity, data privacy and regulatory compliance vulnerabilities. Firms need to take these into consideration when they move to WFH environments.
Every collaboration and conferencing application have their own approaches to security and archiving, but these features may not meet a firm’s industry requirements.
“It's worth remembering that these tools are not designed for compliance from the ground up,” said Elwood. “It’s not just about recording or capturing. There's more to compliance than that.”
While third-party capture and archive solutions are a crucial technology and infrastructure addition to any company that works in a heavily regulated industry, compliance comes down to training the staff. Working remotely work can be a major adjustment for individuals accustomed to an office environment.
“When businesses invest in collaboration conferencing technologies, they need to work closely with their leaders and key departments,” said Hurst. “These firms need to design training programs that reflect the nature, timing and business impact that these tools are going to have.”
Watch the full webinar, Stay-at-Home Workforce: Best Practices for the Compliant Adoption of Collaboration Platforms, to learn more about balancing productivity and collaboration with compliance.
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