How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed our definition of ‘going to work’?
Are the changes we are seeing short-term, or long-term? When the pandemic ends, will the many benefits of remote work overcome the enterprise’s attachment to the status quo?
And the biggest question of all, will work from home (WFH) finally become the new normal?
No individual, company or country was prepared for how ‘work’ changed almost overnight.
A 2018 report from Owl Labs found that two years ago only 16% of companies had full remote capability, 40% offered both remote and in-office work opportunities, and 44% of companies did not allow any remote work at all. Even the companies that gave workers the option to work from home were only allowing it for one to two days a week.
Over the last few months, the onset of COVID-19 and mandated social distancing has blown those numbers away. Around the globe, millions of employees have adopted working from home to “flatten the curve.”
Most companies were caught flat-footed, but even companies that were successfully supporting some of their workers remotely were not ready for all of them, and certainly not so quickly.
Based on our experience of now 20 years delivering mobility workforce solutions in the cloud, we’ve seen a lot – in particular what makes the difference between a good (and secure) WFH setup vs one that lacks in both efficiency or security.
So to help you guide your own transition here are some IT issues to consider when supporting WFH at scale?
A VPN Is Mandatory
Whether your remote workers rely on legacy systems or critical files and databases, they need access to the company network to do their job. But when they work from home, everything they do is sent/received over the public IP network and must be encrypted. Especially critical for regulated industries such as healthcare and finance.
The best way to secure remote access is through a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN creates a secure tunnel between the remote worker and your enterprise network to prevent packet sniffing and man-in-the-middle attacks.
The VPN can be secured even further using multi-factor authentication (MFA) and one-time passwords (OTP) generators.
The bottom line is that if you want communications with your WFH employees to be secure, you need to use a VPN.
Get Serious About Security
As more and more employees work from home, IT also needs to extend its security mandate outside of the company’s walls to include every worker’s home office.
COVID-19 has created a target-rich environment for cybercriminals, and they are aggressively attacking WFH employees around the globe.
Checkpoint Software has tracked over 16,000 new COVID-19 related domains since January 2020. Close to 1% of them were found to be malicious and one in five suspicious. Attacks vectors are all over the map, from bogus e-commerce sites selling “COVID cures”, to phishing attacks that launch dangerous ransomware.
In addition to getting first-time home workers up and running effectively, Enterprise IT must take steps to lock them down to prevent unauthorized access. Here is a list of things you can do to improve the security of your worker’s home offices.
Document And Publish Everything You Learn
Remote work may not be new to your enterprise, but WFH at scale likely is. Your IT staff may be stressed and overworked as they get people up and running in the short term.
To make their life easier in the long-term you should capture, document and publish everything you learn. Then make the knowledge available in FAQ sheets, tutorial videos or a knowledge base for self-help.
And because an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, you should create a distribute a formal work from home policy to guide WFH employees into good habits.
No one knows how long this pandemic is going to last and whether we will see echoes in the months ahead. But an almost certain aftermath is a permanent increase in the number of employees working from home.
When things do get back to normal, we expect to see many companies buy into WFH to keep their workers happier, saves costs and increases sustainability.
And while it took the global pandemic for many companies to learn that working from home done right can be a win-win for everyone, now the next big challenge facing is to make it secure, sustainable and streamlined.
Need help fine-tuning or “securing up” your VPN or WFH strategy? Doing it “properly” may be more economical than you think, and you’ll reap dividends for years to come.
We can have you fully mobile with robust security within a day. Drop us an email to find out more.