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IT Pro Podcast Special Edition: Learning to live with risk

Taking shortcuts is part of human nature, but it doesn’t have to be a threat to your business

Most human beings crave efficiency. Sooner or later, we all gravitate towards the quickest way to do something, and that’s especially true when it comes to the world of work. Taking shortcuts to get things done faster and more easily is a fact of life, whether it’s using the public Wi-Fi at the coffee shop rather than the company VPN, or emailing a document to yourself for access on a different device.

However, these time-saving tactics can sometimes present unintended risks for businesses. Even if it’s not intended maliciously, when staff cut the wrong corner it can expose organisations to possible cyber attacks, or potentially leave them in breach of data protection regulations. On the other hand, humans are persistent creatures, and trying to get them to adhere strictly to official procedure with no deviation is like trying to hold back the tide.

That’s why it’s important to embrace this tendency, by allowing your staff to take shortcuts in a way that’s safe and sustainable, without introducing unnecessary dangers. According to Phil Shepley, vice president and general manager of Northern Europe for Iron Mountain, there are a number of ways that companies can do this, starting by giving staff the digital collaboration tools they need to get their jobs done in the most efficient manner possible. If employees are stuck using clunky and outdated communication and file sharing platforms, they’re more likely to circumnavigate them in a potentially dangerous way.

Training for employees should also be up to date, particularly in relation to areas and systems where digital risks are prone to rapid evolution. If they’ve got an accurate picture of the relative risks – and the potential consequences – of not following procedure, staff can make more informed decisions about the risks they’re taking on a day-to-day basis, and may be more likely to avoid particularly dangerous shortcuts.

Finally, organisations should strive to create an open and supportive culture, where workers can feel comfortable admitting when they’ve cut corners, and asking for help if this leads to problems. They should also feel empowered to call out areas where processes and procedures are unnecessarily complex and burdensome, providing an opportunity for the business to reevaluate its practices and speed them up.

Risk is an unavoidable part of life, but by embracing our natural drive for efficiency, businesses can keep their employees happy while still acting in a safe and responsible manner. For more information on how to effectively manage your organisation’s risk appetite and how technology can help match this to staff behaviour, check out this IT Pro Podcast Special Edition, brought to you in association with Iron Mountain.

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