How a VPN Can Help Small Businesses Boost Productivity

If you want to ensure your employees can securely work remotely, consider implementing a VPN.

person working from home
4 ways VPNs can boost productivity — plus what to look for when choosing one

An increasing number of employees are now working remotely. Data from FlexJobs found that remote work has increased over 44%.

Remote work offers many benefits for workers — it gives them flexible schedules, reduces commute stress, and improves overall productivity. More organizations are now embracing remote work to attract and retain talent. Giving employees the option to work from home seems like a no-brainer, but security is a critical issue.

According to the Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR), 43% of data breaches involved small businesses. Businesses need to take security seriously, but the reality is that home environments typically don’t have the same safeguards that offices do. This can present security challenges for companies that offer remote work.

So how can you ensure that employees can securely work remotely? One solution is to use a VPN or Virtual Private Network.

Here we’ll take an in-depth look at what a VPN is and how it can improve productivity for your small business. We’ll also give you tips on choosing the right one.

What is a VPN?

A VPN is a tool that creates a secure connection for your device over the internet. All data is encrypted and kept hidden from prying eyes.

Connecting to a VPN allows you to browse the web using a different server’s connection. This means you can access websites privately and keep your real IP address and location hidden.

A good analogy is mailing a postcard, as it can be read by anyone handling it. But when you use a VPN, no one would be able to read your message (or your browsing activity in this case). Even if someone manages to intercept it, they would only see a jumbled message.

Now let’s look at how a VPN can boost productivity for small businesses.

1. Creates a more secure connection

What makes working remotely attractive is the degree of flexibility it provides. You can set your  own schedule as long as you get your work done.

Being able to work remotely is clearly important for many employees today. When faced with 2 similar job offers, 80% of workers said they would choose a job that offered flexible work options over a job that didn’t.

A VPN encrypts all web traffic even on unsecured networks. Employees can work more productively knowing that their connections are secure whether they’re at home or sipping a cappuccino in their favorite cafe.
One security risk, however, is if employees connect to unsecured networks. This can be the case if an employee works out of a cafe or a library that offers free Wi-Fi. If these public networks aren’t secure, anyone can monitor and steal any sensitive data that goes through them.

A VPN encrypts all web traffic even on unsecured networks. Employees can work more productively knowing that their connections are secure whether they’re at home or sipping a cappuccino in their favorite cafe.

2. Facilitates file sharing and collaboration

Office networks make file sharing convenient and accessible. For obvious reasons, it’s strongly recommended to secure and prevent outside access to these networks.

Keeping these networks secure is critical to protect sensitive information. But doing so may block access to files that remote workers need to do their work.

A remote access VPN allows users to access data and use applications that reside in the company network. Once connected to a VPN, remote workers can access resources on the network as if they were physically in the office.

The connection between an employee’s device and the network is encrypted, so users can collaborate on files even when they’re traveling abroad. Allowing secure access to the company network has a positive impact on overall productivity.

3. Enables access to restricted websites

Some countries have internet restrictions for its citizens and visitors. For example, you can’t access sites like Google, Facebook, or YouTube in China. Even Dropbox is blocked. This means remote workers can’t access files from this cloud storage service if they’re traveling to China.

When using a VPN, you can connect to a server that’s based in a country that has no restrictions on the sites you can visit. Even if remote workers travel to a country with restricted internet access, they can still access the websites or files they need for their work (as long as they have an internet connection).

But there is one caveat — not all VPNs work in countries with internet restrictions like China. So if you plan to travel there or countries with similar restrictions, be sure to check in advance that the VPN will work.

4. Can increase internet speeds

All businesses depend on fast connections to get work done. If your internet connection is throttled, pages that normally took a few seconds to load will take much longer. The wasted time it takes for applications to load and emails to send can really add up over the course of a day.

Throttling occurs when a ISP (Internet Service Provider) intentionally slows down bandwidth or internet speed. Your connection might be throttled due to network congestion or if they detect certain types of traffic (e.g., torrenting, streaming, etc.).

ISPs can view the websites you’re browsing and decide to throttle your connection. One way to bypass throttling is with a VPN as it encrypts your data and hides your browsing activity. ISPs won’t be able to tell what types of data you’re downloading.

You can test if your ISP is throttling your bandwidth by running a speed test before and activating a VPN. Just note that using a VPN won’t work if your connection is throttled because of data caps since they would be restricting total bandwidth instead of content types.

A VPN can be a valuable tool for your small business. But one challenge is finding the right one for your business, as there are tons of options on the market.

What to look for when choosing a VPN

Choosing a VPN is an important decision because you’re trusting them to protect your data and keep your business safe online. Here are some things to look for as you choose a VPN for your business.

  • Speed: Nothing is more frustrating than staring at a blank page as it continues to load. A fast connection is a must when deciding on a VPN.
  • Security: Security is another top priority when choosing a VPN. Look for a VPN that offers VPN protocols like OpenVPN and encryption over 256 bits.
  • Kill switch: A kill switch automatically disables your internet connection if your VPN disconnects for any reason. This is to prevent your IP address or location from being exposed. Look for a VPN that has a kill switch.
  • Server locations: If you need to make your location appear as if you’re in another country, then you’ll need a VPN that has servers in that specific geographic region.
  • Logging policy: Look for a VPN provider that doesn’t log data about their users. This ensures that your browsing activity is secure.
  • Compatible devices: Most VPNs offer support for Windows and macOS. But if you plan to use a VPN while on a mobile device, be sure to check that they have apps available for iOS and Android devices.
  • Usability: The last thing you want is for employees not to use a VPN because it’s difficult to use. A VPN with a user-friendly interface is a must.
  • Customer service: You never know when you’ll run into an issue, so it’s important to choose a VPN with reliable customer service.
  • Pricing: While you certainly want to save money for your business, don’t always opt for the cheapest options as certain features could be missing. Instead, look for VPNs that offer all the features that are important for your business.

While you certainly want to save money for your business, don’t always opt for the cheapest options as certain features could be missing. Instead, look for VPNs that offer all the features that are important for your business.

Top VPN providers

Still need some help choosing a VPN? Here’s a comparison chart that looks at the best VPN providers (click through to view the spreadsheet) and the features they offer.

Data source: TheBestVPN.com.

Share the importance of data security

Implementing a VPN for your small business allows remote workers to securely browse the web and connect to office networks. VPNs are effective security solutions, but they only work when everyone on the team is actually using them.

The good news is that VPNs are simple to install and easy to use. Be sure to communicate the importance of data security and establish a policy for employees to follow when they need to access sensitive information.

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