data security

By Rieva Lesonsky

If your employees are like most these days, even when they go on vacation, they’re still connected with the office through their email, voice mail and devices. More than half (59 percent) of employees in a recent study by Pertino say they regularly check email, take phone calls and do other work-related activities on vacation, and 36 percent say they do so at least once a day.

But far from stressing them out, constant connectivity has the opposite effect. Nearly half (47 percent) of survey respondents say they are less stressed on vacation because they can stay connected to the office. In fact, the survey found being disconnected can actually lead to more anxiety, not less.

But for business owners, employees’ constant connectivity has both good and bad sides. Since a whopping 77 percent of employees can’t access their company networks while on vacation, many of them cobble together various ways of getting the files. About one-third admit they’ve taken their work computer along on vacation, while a similar percentage use unsecure cloud file-sharing services. Employees also use their personal computers (52 percent), smartphones (51 percent) and tablets (30 percent). This means employees could be putting your business’s data at risk.

To protect your business from data loss, Pertino recommends these steps:

  • Make sure employees can access the apps, files and resources they need from a secure cloud storage service so that they won’t have to resort to unsecure options or USB drives that can be lost or stolen.
  • If employees do take company computers, tablets or smartphones with them on their vacations, make sure they use common sense, such as not leaving them out in plain sight, not leaving them unattended and storing them in the hotel safe when not in use. (How often do you read about secure data being breached because an employee’s laptop was stolen from a car?)
  • Watch out for public Wi-Fi. Public Wi-Fi hotspots are convenient, but risky—criminals can access them to hack into your employees’ passwords and your company’s data. Remind employees to make sure they use a network that provides authentication and encryption.
  • Encourage employees to get the R&R they need. It’s great that employees can stay plugged in on vacation, but encourage them to cut the cord (or the Wi-Fi) at least a little bit. For example, by setting a designated time every day to check email and voice mail for any emergencies, then enjoying the rest of their day, your team will come back refreshed—not frustrated by feeling that they didn’t get time off.

And keep in mind, if you’re lucky enough to take a vacation this summer, that these tips apply to you, too.