This week Google confirmed it expects around 20 percent of its employees to work from home, with 60 percent meeting their teams in the office a few days a week, validating the view that the new ‘norm’ for working post pandemic will be a hybrid home/office model.
This is further verified by a BBC survey, which indicates that 43 of the UK’s top 50 companies would embrace a mix of home and office working, with staff encouraged to work from home two to three days a week.
Mark Read, CEO of advertising firm WPP told the BBC “We’re never going to go back to working the way we used to work”.
Research commissioned by CANCOM, conducted with UK HR suggested that that only one-in-ten organisations does not intend to run a hybrid way of working.
Whilst it will take some time to analyse and determine the pros and cons are of this new working practise, one thing is clear, there will be major challenges for IT teams.
According to new data, collated across France, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK and the US, from the Neustar International Security Council (NISC) over half of organisations are still experiencing downtime and disruption due to network security issues, caused by employees working from home.
One area of focus has been the VPN, with the survey revealing that 79% of organisations have improved the security of their corporate networks as a result of enforced home working.
During January and February of this year, DDoS was considered the greatest concern for respondents (23 percent), closely followed by system compromise (22 percent) and ransomware (17 percent). CTOs and security professionals perceived criminals to be the most likely threat (74%).
Understandably, the enforced ‘rush’ to ensure business continuance in the early days of the pandemic effectively meant that there was little time and opportunity to implement and test rigorous security and data protection procedures. This was born out by data produced by Citrix that suggested nearly 40% of home workers were using apps that had not been approved or were actually banned by their tech departments.
Within days the ‘work’ laptop morphed to the ‘family’ one with requirements for home schooling, web chats to distant family members and keeping up with the latest on-line exercise class becoming as important as responding to work related email. The terms of Acceptable Use Policies becoming less ‘important’ as people struggled to cope with this new work/life balance.
Both data security and physical security become critical. How is data stored at home, how is the actual laptop stored, is it shut down or is it passed to a family member to watch a dodgy stream?
Then of course you have the issue of connectivity or to be more precise, lack of it. Just this week Virgin Media broadband was down for thousands of customers, not too traumatic if you’re simply watching catch up TV but rather more stressful if you’re presenting your company’s annual results to over 50 analysts via Teams. The CANCOM findings suggested that poor network connectivity between those working at home and in the office was the largest challenge faced by organisations if hybrid working is to be successful.
As we emerge from lockdown, and accept hybrid working, we now have time to plan and consider how to manage the new norm safely, efficiently and securely. Part of this planning process must encapsulate the consideration of partnership working with an IT managed services company such as vXtream, particularly if you are a smaller organisation where internal resources are tight.
Guaranteed dedicated connectivity, data security, business resilience, patching, threat detection and protection are all services that are offered by MSPs. Cloud-based services such as Desktop-as-a-Service and back up provide you with secure access to corporate data and services, and can be deployed, configured and managed centrally on your behalf.
Microsoft has already reported a 775 percent rise in cloud-services since the beginning of the pandemic, as more and more organisations facilitate working from home, accelerating the pace at which they would ordinarily adopt new IT practises. But it’s not an easy process and support will be required.
Who knew that having spent the past 10 years talking about hybrid working – diverse data centre, cloud resources and workloads managed centrally – as a solution for many challenges faced in the virtual world, we’d be using the same term as a solution for many of the challenges faced in the physical world.