COVID-19 has had an impact on all of the interviewed companies in regards to remote working. Depending on the industry, about thirty to eighty percent of employees have worked from home since the beginning of the pandemic. In some industries only a proportion of employees have been able to work from home. In a few companies all employees have worked from home.
In most of the interviewed companies a large part of the workforce were working from home in the beginning of the pandemic, in March, April, May and June. In August and September, the workforce in a majority of the companies were working part time from home and part time at the office. There is a consensus that the change to remote work has worked surprisingly well, and has been largely unproblematic.
“Almost everybody, with just a few exceptions, have been working from home.”
“The change to remote work has worked very well, if anything we have almost seen an increase in effectiveness.”
Many positive effects are generated by working from home, such as work-life balance, reduced commuting, less need for expensive office space etc. However, there are also negative effects, like compliance risks and IT security risks. These increased risks place new demands on companies.
“There are more challenges and more demands in a world where we work remotely, which leads to a need to have more control measures in place.”
Increase in compliance risk
Several of the companies highlight that working remotely generally increases the compliance and IT security risks. Compliance risks increase outside of the corporate culture, with distance and less social control, and it is easier to commit crimes in the home environment than in the office environment. The companies also identified a risk that addictions, such as alcoholism or gambling, can get worse when working from home.
“The internal controls are clearer when sitting together in the office.”
“When people break habits and experience increased pressure and stress, that can also increase negative behaviour.”
“We have seen an increased risk for corruption and ethical violations, and we have also seen a considerable increase in theft reports.”
IT security risks
Regarding IT security there is a risk that employees are less careful and security conscious in the home environment. It is also a less controlled IT environment, which means that it is easier to circumvent firewalls and other protection. Some companies have seen an increase in external cyber-attacks.
Risk related to CSAM
Most of the interviewed individuals say that there could be an increased risk that work IT equipment is used to download or consume child sexual abuse material (CSAM) when more employees work from home.
“The situation with many employees working from home can increase the risk that individuals who handle this type of material have more privacy and time to do so.”
There are also a number of factors which may work to decrease risk, or leave it unchanged. Some interviewees say that the social world at home, with other family members, and limited private space, could decrease the risk. Others mention that with less business travel, the risk could decrease. Working from home also means that individuals may have access to private devices, which might decrease how much company IT equipment is used to view or download CSAM. Others say that risks have remained stable. That either a person has this interest or not.
The companies differ in whether they have seen an actual increase in CSAM related incidents or not. A few of the respondents have seen an increase in incidents, but the majority of respondents have not seen an increase.
“Working from home means an increased risk. We’ve had more incidents than we otherwise have, which is what we expected.”
“We have had some incidents, but not more than we usually have. Theoretically it should go up, we know that employees do this during their working hours and at home they have more possibilities than in the workplace.”
“We have not seen an increase in incidents. Perhaps it is more difficult to find the time and space to watch such material at home.”
Future of remote work
All of the interviewed companies say that they think there will be a bigger tolerance towards working from home when the pandemic ends. Only one person intimated that they will probably go back to operating the same as before. All other companies say that they will continue to work from home, and probably to a fairly high degree.
“I don’t think we will go back to how it was. We had to develop a new infrastructure that we now have in place, and it works well. I think we will end up in a new world where a majority of our employees work sometimes from home, sometimes in office.”
“I think it will become norm to work from home much more than before.
I think employees will demand the possibility, and there are many positive aspects for both employee and employer.”