Gartner predicts that 48% of employees will continue to work from home at least part time, compared with 30% pre-pandemic. Planning for this remote workforce and optimising IT will be high on everyone’s agenda for some time. Lee Evans, Head of Pre-Sales, and Geert Busse, NGS Business Development Lead, look at how to optimise infrastructure and capabilities for the new way of working.

As lockdown restrictions are eased, we’re going back to radically different workplaces. Social distancing has made crowded workplaces a thing of the past, the traditional 9-to-5 work day has been upended, and many of us are unlikely to return to the office any time soon. The remote, flexible workforce is here to stay.

Research by Salesforce’s Customer & Market Insights group predicts tech spending and remote working will increase post pandemic, with 48% of business leaders expecting it to be driven by burgeoning remote workforces.

With this in mind, every business should take the time to assess their remote working capabilities, and analyse the impact of the transition on their day-to-day operations. With the ‘react’ and ‘enhance’ phases behind us, it’s time to plan for the future of work.

React and enhance

When lockdown was imposed around the world, businesses had to react rapidly to implement remote working, often relying on their current technology and vendors. This included activating remote-access VPNs, policy and configuration changes to allow users to connect to applications from home, and addressing lack of knowledge of tools and security protocols.

Once in play, businesses then began to enhance their connectivity, security and collaboration: beefing up security with Zero Trust Network Access technology, evaluating endpoint protection, implementing multi-factor authentication, security patching, adding a cloud security layer, or adding higher-quality, purpose-built peripherals.

Plan for the future

Now the dust is starting to settle and staff are productive and safe. Governments are starting to ease the lockdown. Business is returning. As we enter the ‘plan’ phase, what now? We’ve created a seven-point checklist to optimise teams and infrastructure as remote working becomes the ‘new normal’.

  1. Security posture assessment

What was the impact of the crisis on your security posture, and could you measure the extra security risk from the increased attack surface? Did you measure and improve your cybersecurity controls, reduce software vulnerabilities and limit their exposure?

  1. Incident response plan

How well did your incident response process cope? With your IT staff focused on enabling people to work from home, can they still react swiftly to a ransomware or phishing threat? Is their incident response limited because they are also working from home?

  1. Monitoring and breach detection

Would your IT team have detected a breach during the COVID-19 crisis? In the react phase, security may not have been optimal. Did you have sufficient device monitoring in place, or an additional detection and response layer in case prevention failed? Did that monitoring also cover remote systems? Is it now time to talk to an external provider to provide assessment and monitoring?

  1. On-premises vs cloud UC

Evaluate your current communications tools and set-ups. Due to restricted site access, maintenance costs, speed of deployment and monthly billing options, UCaaS is increasingly attractive. Given the feature-rich capabilities and low touch required to complete the sales cycle, evaluating UCaaS should be part of any plan. 

  1. Revisit contingency plans

Reflecting on the initial ‘react’ phase, it’s likely some key areas were missed. This could be staff not all having a laptop or the ability to push security policy. What happens when equipment fails? If your offices are still closed, how do you dispatch and remotely configure or provision devices on delivery?

  1. Budget reconciliation

Budgets will shift to higher investment in cybersecurity and employee equipment. Customers are spending more on renewals of support contracts to ensure they keep the lights on. As the dust settles, budgets will shift again. LAN upgrades have been put on hold while UCaaS and UC are seeing more interest than ever.

  1. Better connectivity

Consider enhancing your connectivity through high speed access points to cater for the increased volume of high-bandwidth services such as video meetings, with the need for wireless networks and associated services.

The future is now

Only by stitching together security, communications and system integration can you build a solution that matches your customers’ individual needs, tech maturity, budget and workforce – and deliver maximum value.

As one of the world’s leading distributors of remote-working solutions, our aim is to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and help partners and end-customers maintain business continuity and thrive. Get in touch to discover how we can optimise your remote workforce for today and tomorrow.

Alongside our expertise in technology and solution design, we also offer remote professional and technical services to help make planning a reality – even in times of social distancing. Request a free home working assessment or find more insight and resources in our remote working content hub.

If you missed our React, Enhance, Plan webinar on the future of work, you can watch it here.