How To Address The Challenges Of A Remote Workforce
Everyone is familiar with the scenario of trying to accomplish some task online and being frustrated by a poor internet connection, or with the issue of a security breach due to an unsecure network. These issues were already a common frustration, but since 2020, they’ve become a greater and more detrimental nuisance as the majority of the workforce has turned to remote work as a result of the pandemic.
Remote Work Is Here To Stay But Not Without Challenges
It is projected that by 2025, there will be 87% more work-from-home employees than there were before the pandemic. The problem is that, currently, IT departments have to use multiple hardware and software updates to keep remote workers securely and reliably connected, but only 39% of businesses are confident that they have the expertise and manpower needed to manage remote work and the new security issues that it brings.
According to statistics, 80% of executives expect remote work to be here for the long haul. While 96% of employees are satisfied with this change, 94% are also experiencing new challenges that come with the territory. Some of these challenges relate to the unreliability and lack of security of home network connections. Since the start of quarantines, 60% of all companies report a spike in cyber attacks.
Increase in Cyber Attacks
It’s easy to understand why, as employees are no longer doing the majority of their work on the more reliably secure, in-house networks of their company headquarters. Remote work can be done from any number of locations including home office, but also even less secure networks such as public ones in coffee shops and shared work spaces.
The three top security risks come from VDI or RDP at 60%, phishing at 30%, and VPN vulnerabilities at 20%. Before the pandemic, 71% of businesses reported satisfaction with their network security, but the “new normal” of remote work has caused a sudden, sharp downward spiral. Currently, only 44% of those same businesses are satisfied that they’re cyber security risks are being mitigated.
Slow Internet Speed and Connection Issues
Another issue which is far more prominent in the work-from-home business world is that of slow internet and unreliable connection. Part of this problem is actually created by the huge spike in in-home data usage brought on by the influx of remote workers. In 2020, in-home data usage jumped by 38%, bringing it up to 16.6 GB per month.
Not only does this affect internet speed, but it also has a stifling effect on real-time services like VoIP and video conferencing, which have become far more necessary in day-to-day business interactions. Other connectivity issues have meant that 38% of surveyed remote employees have, at some point, been unable to complete their work due to a poor network connection.
Another 43% report having resorted to the use of their phones and hotspots for remote work during the height of the pandemic. Sixty-nine percent also report having issues with their VPN, which has taken an unexpected toll on businesses.
In order for the internet to catch up to the needs and challenges of a remote workforce, there are several obstacles which must be quickly addressed. Companies and employees need access to a private, cloud-managed SASE model network connection. This connection would be able to deliver stronger security with zero-trust access and full visibility.
This kind of network also means increased speed performance with optimized protocols and routes, which means great network reliability. These private networks would also simplify connectivity, by removing unnecessary hardware, which automatically lowers administrative costs.
It is clear that remote work is here to say for the foreseeable future. Eighty percent of executives agree that remote work will still be here long after the pandemic is over. It’s time for the networks to improve to support the needs of a fully functioning business.
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Author: Brian Wallace
Brian Wallace is the Founder and President of NowSourcing, an industry leading infographic design agency based in Louisville, KY and Cincinnati, OH which works with companies that range from startups to Fortune 500s. Brian also runs #LinkedInLocal events nationwide, and hosts the Next Action Podcast. Brian has been named a Google Small Business Advisor for 2016-present and joined the SXSW Advisory Board in 2019.