Remote working - the new reality is staying
2020 was the year of the big remote work shift. Many organisations that didn’t believe in the power of telecommuting had no choice but to re-adjust to a completely new reality in a very short period of time. And for most of them it has ended up being the best possible response to incredibly difficult times, proving that we can work from home and do it effectively—without losing productivity.
Looking ahead to 2021-22, it seems likely that remote working will become a standard part of daily life for an ever-increasing portion of the world’s population. Research in America suggests that over two-thirds (74%) of companies plan to permanently shift employees to remote work after the Covid-19 crisis ends. As recently as May, Twitter told its employees that they could work from home indefinitely. And according to some pundits, the need for large physical office spaces will gradually become a thing of the past.
While UK businesses may not see such a paradigm shift in their practices in the foreseeable future, many companies are adopting a new hybrid work model, with a combination of remote and on-site working. This means they will reserve specific days for in-person meetings and collaboration on issues such as new projects or team-building exercises and other days will be set aside for remote work that can be performed individually. One practical effect is that offices are being redesigned and reorganised with fewer cubicles and more collaborative meeting spaces.
Cybersecurity is vital
Remote working may bring certain benefits to the organisation and to individual workers, but it is not a panacea. Indeed, one immediate impact of remote working that must be addressed is data protection. With a significant portion of its workforce operating from home, an organisation’s cybersecurity will become an even greater concern throughout 2021 and beyond. This is highlighted in Cisco’s ‘Future of Secure Remote Work Report’, which reports that 85% of all respondents consider cybersecurity to be extremely important or more important than before the pandemic. The challenge is that protecting the remote workers’ data and equipment requires a significant investment in IT systems and infrastructure and this hasn’t always been addressed.
Is domestic broadband adequate?
The shift to more home working raises some delicate questions, such as who should foot the bill for work-related connectivity. It also focuses attention on some practical issues, including the quality and reliability of domestic broadband. Video calls and document downloads put extra pressure on domestic bandwidth – especially if other members of the household are vying for it at the same time. It is a good idea for home workers to test their broadband speed with a free test such as that offered via Ofcom. Anything upwards of 25Mbps should be adequate to work effectively from home, but with 10Mbps or less, action should be taken to improve home internet.
Plan ahead now
Remote working is here to stay and its widespread adoption will require many changes, including reorganising office space and reinventing many traditional processes and practices. Above all, it means investing in digital infrastructure to maintain operational efficiencies and security. If you would like investigate your options for fast, secure broadband as part of your remote working plans, call me, Paul Hagan, or any member of the High Performance Networks team on 028 9053 8411. We’ll help you manage your broadband in ways that are right for your business.