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YouTube and Netflix are the favorite procrastination tools of remote workers

(Image credit: Shutterstock / maryna rodyukova)

Analysis of aggregated VPN traffic data has shown that the vast majority of remote workers are using corporate devices for entertainment purposes.

A study by NetMotion Software found that more than three quarters (74%) of employees are streaming video content on popular platforms such as YouTube and Netflix via company-owned devices.

YouTube is far and away the most popular service with the remote workforce, accounting for 71% of streaming activity, followed by Netflix (14%) and Hulu (9%).

The findings raise concerns that the widespread shift to remote working could be having a negative effect on employee productivity - and on cybersecurity.

Remote working productivity

Designed to assess the changes in worker behavior and device usage brought about by the pandemic, the study found that a significant amount of time is spent streaming content via corporate devices.

NetMotion Software say that one fifth of workers are spending more than 10 hours per week streaming content on entertainment platforms, while 45% are streaming video content for 5-10 hours per week.

Almost a third, meanwhile, admitted to accessing non work-related content via corporate devices during the working day, highlighting a potential productivity drain.

Beyond video streaming, NetMotion believes workers could be using company-owned devices to access all manner of platforms and services, some of which could pose a threat to security.

“With the majority of employees now working remote, IT teams appear to be struggling to gain visibility into how their devices are being used,” reads the report.

“If they aren’t able to see or limit the use of corporate-owned devices for relatively harmless activities like streaming YouTube content, then they also cannot determine whether employees are engaging in potentially risky behavior, such as visiting unsuitable or unsavory websites that may introduce malware into the network.”

To mitigate against threats of this kind, the report advocates a shift towards decentralized and zero trust architectures, which are better aligned with remote-first environments than traditional network-centric approaches.