The advantages of hiring remote employees are many, with lower overhead costs and increased productivity at or near the top of the list. One study, highlighted in the Harvard Business Review, found that the travel Website Ctrip not only saved $1,900 per employee on furniture and space over the course of a nine month trial, but that its team of remote workers was 13.5% more productive than the team that worked in the corporate office. Moreover, the results of the study also indicated that remote employees encounter fewer distractions, take fewer sick days, and work more hours than their more traditional counterparts.

Of course, employing remote workers typically requires a few adjustments on the part of the employer, one of which concerns keeping computers, mobile devices, and data secure in a decentralized computing environment. It should be noted, though, that virtually all companies - even those without remote employees - face these same issues, as all but the most cloistered in-house employees periodically venture outside to work from a client office, hotel, or even under a cabana at the beach.

With that in mind, following are a handful of tips for maintaining security with remote workers and teams.

First, it's imperative that remote workers' computers and devices are protected with up-to-date security software, which dramatically reduces the chance of your company being impacted by malware or a computer virus. Security experts also advise "activat[ing] automatic updates from software makers or us[ing] a patch-management tool," (as even tech-savvy workers like freelance web developers and php developers aren't necessarily fastidious about updating software). It's also wise to mitigate potential damage from lost devices by utilizing remote-wipe apps on all company-issued mobile devices and installing whole-disk encryption software on computers.

Second, consider operating in the cloud, as storing data remotely eliminates the possibility of physical theft of devices, and also has the advantage of housing that data in a single, centralized location, one protected by a cloud service provider (which likely has considerably more resources to devote to security than any individual small- or medium-size company).

Remote teams

Establish formal policies for passwords and usage of computers.

Third, it's critical that all employees use strong passwords, refrain from re-using passwords for multiple accounts, and change passwords on a regular basis. Perhaps this seems obvious, but one might be surprised how many people still use "admin" as a user name, or "password123" for their password.

Fourth, insist that your remote workers utilize secure Internet connections and that they steer clear of the free Wi-Fi at the local coffee shop, for instance. Creating a secure connection to your company network using virtual private network (VPN) software also deserves strong consideration.

Last but not least, it's vital to establish formal policies for business computers, mobile devices, and passwords, so company policies and procedures are clear.

If you have any questions about maintaining security with remote teams or the advantages of hiring remote workers, contact DistantJob today. With over a decade of experience in this emerging field, our company, DistantJob, has the expertise to help your company hire high-quality remote workers at a fraction of the cost of traditional employees.