By Ian Pitt is the Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer at LogMeIn
It’s no secret that workplaces around the world are having to adjust the way business is conducted. The full-scale transition to remote work has brought countless challenges, from managing disparate teams to ensuring employees have the tools needed to continue work from afar. For small and medium-sized businesses, this has created a new reality.
Improving the existing technology stack can often take a backseat on the priority list for SMBs, whether due to budget and resource constraints or simply other priorities taking over. However, the pandemic necessitated a quick and drastic shift in this approach and made improved technology critical to operating in a remote work environment. Now more than six months since this transition, things are about to change again.
A New Paradigm Takes Shape: The Hybrid Workforce
We are on the verge of a new shift in the workforce which will push every organization to rethink how they manage their infrastructure, provide resources in an efficient way and keep employees secure. We are talking about a “split workforce.”
While the majority of employees are still working from home, a new report shows that most Americans are expected to slowly begin returning to the office over the next 12 to 18 months – giving rise to a new hybrid workforce. Expectations are that not everyone will be back in the office, but rather organizations will give more flexibility to employees to split their time between the physical office and their home, creating a rotating pattern.
Key Considerations for a Secured Hybrid Workforce
The shift in the workforce paradigm will have direct effects on the technology organizations choose to rely on, how they are managed, and the way people leverage it on a daily basis. From infrastructure and physical offices to changes in the organization’s culture, SMBs will have many elements to consider as a new year quickly approaches.
Moreover, cyber threats are on the rise. In fact, 90 percent of organizations report experiencing an increase in attacks, and 80 percent say those attacks are more sophisticated. Small and mid-size organizations need to be ready for the hybrid workforce, which will only add complexity to IT and security operations.
To adapt to and secure this new workforce, SMBs will have to take into consideration the following:
Infrastructure Shifts – In a post-pandemic world, no organization, from SMBs to large enterprises, should continue having infrastructure ‘on site’ that ties the team members to a physical location. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) will be critical to helping SMBs navigate this shift. SaaS allows organizations to access, support and monitor everything from anywhere. This cloud versus on-prem approach provides employees with access to the resources they need while giving IT and security teams more control over the network no matter where teams are located.
Zero-Touch Tech Delivery – With employees more dispersed than ever, organizations will need to have zero-touch tech delivery in place. Many organizations are still delivering pre-imaged devices from company IT teams which can introduce unnecessary steps and shipping delays. Moving forward, a fully zero-touch process will be critical to provide users with the equipment they need directly and set up by themselves – a much more frictionless approach to remote onboarding and maintenance. Additionally, “bring your own device” will come back into consideration to simplify supply chains and delivery in this new hybrid environment.
Shadow IT – In a remote work environment, IT proliferates more than ever before. Employees connect their work devices through their home network, leverage personal devices and rely on a variety of online tools – some which are unsanctioned by IT, which leaves more entry points for security threats. Having a strong identity and access management strategy is critical to ensure both employees within the corporate perimeter and those in home offices are secure at all times.
Security Culture – In the 2020 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, phishing is noted as the top threat action against small businesses. Building a strong security culture can help to minimize security risks like these among a widely dispersed workforce. Maintaining regular security trainings – whether in-person or virtual – will instill stronger awareness among employees and enhance security overall.
Physical Environment – Remote work can also be an opportunity to streamline your office network. For instance, if you had multiple offices with an inter-office connection, consider if you need that now. If the offices are turned into an “offsite” location, treat them as isolated environments. This leads to a lower infrastructure management burden and ironically leads to lower IT service desk calls.
The “Work from Anywhere” Future
The corporate office is no longer the perimeter. Organizations need to acknowledge this and take the “work from anywhere” approach as an opportunity to simplify the workspace, boost your technology stack and implement new processes that will help both your company and employees stay secure. In a post-pandemic world, hybrid workforce models are likely here to stay. Consider the flexibility and efficiency new technology and processes like SaaS and zero-touch device delivery can bring to your organization and get started building it into your SMB’s business plans today.