As a result of COVID-19, many workplaces had to suddenly transition to remote working, despite a lack of training, remote-working policies, or in some cases, work devices. Coupled with the pressures of working from home in this context (e.g. childcare, impaired work-life balance), this new way of working has changed the risks and challenges surrounding workplace Trust, Identity, Privacy and Security (TIPS). This is exacerbated even further with the increase in cyberattacks specifically targeting remote workers. This work will therefore aim to explore and identify these issues, taking a socio-technical approach and focusing on small and large organisations. Our goal is to provide key, novel insights into the new challenges and tensions in relation to TIPS in these environments, and thereby provide the much-need foundation for approaches to address these issues.
Despite some similarities with previous ways of working, the sudden transition to working from home has introduced unique challenges. Our research has found that often difficult balances need to be made, e.g., the balance between trusting employees, the need to maintain (and monitor) productivity, and the need for employee autonomy.
The working from home context that includes co-located families or housemates, shared spaces, and caring responsibilities introduces complexities around these conflicting identities, and the ability to keep work-life separate from home-life. This blurring of work and home also means privacy is difficult to maintain, with greater opportunities for accidental disclosures in both directions. However, many also failed to appreciate the risks these possible invasions of privacy may introduce.
Finally, whilst some workplaces have been able to support heightened security measures while working from home, for many there remains a chasm between best practice and actual behaviour afforded by the more relaxed working environment.
Overall, this work highlights the support needed for both organisations and their employees to ensure trust, identity, privacy, and security (TIPS) continue to be considered despite these new challenges.
This work showcases an improved understanding of what risks remote working has brought about. The project’s findings could influence policy advice on remote working.
Businesses could use the project outputs to inform their innovation work, test their business strategy in the light of new working normals, and consider what new advice they could provide internally, and to their customers.
We plan to build upon these findings and explore in greater detail aspects such as the development of TIPS norms when working from home, the impact of employee monitoring, the perception (or lack thereof) of privacy concerns and how security behaviour can be better supported when working from home. Follow-on proposals with these aims in mind are currently in development and will further contribute to our understanding of TIPS within post-COVID-19 remote workforces.
Call for Events is now open! We're supporting Members and Expert Fellows to lead activities that explore aspects of TIPS in the Digital Economy. We will help to organise the activity with up to £5,000 to cover the associated costs.