Cyber threats to organisations on the rise as more people work from home outside of corporate firewalls
Remote work during the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in high office vacancy rates. The facilities management industry has had to deploy smart solutions for manage work from home strategies, space planning, security and utilities management.
According to a December 2020 South African Property Owners Association (SAPOA) office vacancy survey, overall office vacancy is at 13.3% - the highest since 2004. The report found that this has increased dramatically since March 2020 as tenants come under financial pressure, compelling them to reconsider their office space needs.
The growth of remote work is having ripple effects on the facilities management industry as well. Increasing office vacancies are compelling the industry to find innovative, customised ways of providing services to clients. The industry needs to adopt tailored technological solutions that cater to the evolving landscape.
Space management software developed during the lockdown, due to the need for landlords to optimise the use of their real estate in the light of dwindling demand, is key in identifying cost efficiencies and forecasting future real estate needs. It uses data such as building occupation levels and the distribution of occupation.
Some owners have resorted to sub-letting to optimise the use of their space. While this may be a good intervention, multiple tenants present owners new challenges when allocating utility usage to tenants.
As less people occupy office buildings, the number of security personnel required is reduced; this will reduce the financial burden, but safe and secure work environments are still required.
Cyber threats to organisations have also increased exponentially as more people work from home, outside of corporate firewalls. Research company Cybersecurity Ventures predicts that in 2021 there will be a cyberattack incident every 11 seconds.
Cybercrime costs the global economy $6.1 trillion annually and according to the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric), cyberattacks cost the country over R2.2 billion a year.
A PwC report noted that 77% of South African organisations have experienced economic crimes, therefore, organisations need robust online security measures against potential cyber-attacks.
Online security measures protect employees and organisational systems from potential attacks. Areas targeted include e-mails, via phishing, and attacks on third party enterprise-wide communication and collaboration applications. Organisations must update their systems with the latest security patches and implement holistic security frameworks, including user training, access control, intrusion detection, and real-time network anomaly analysis.
Many organisations are struggling to implement a remote management strategy that suits their culture. Some employees struggle to cope with reduced access to leadership and co-worker support, reduced connection with colleagues; and home distractions.
There are a number of interventions that can mitigate against these challenges. These include regular check-ins with staff, the availability of adequate tools to communicate and collaborate, tracking productivity output instead of timesheets, and providing work-from-home support.
*Khaya Mbanga, Group Director for Technology and Digital Transformation at Servest.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of The Star or IOL.