Remote Work: What’s Next?
Are you a remote worker, office worker, or both right now? What does your back-to-the-office look like? Will you still be a remote worker in July or September or January of 2021? If you have lost track of time, January 2021 is only six months away. There are many unknowns and in-betweens right now. Lots of questions, not many answers. How should your business prepare? The best way out is through as the saying goes—so, let's go through it.
Remote Worker Predictions
As the ongoing threat of Covid-19 evolves, predictions regarding how many workers will remain remote varies. Some in the tech world like Twitter have moved their workforce to remote status permanently. Other offices will have some or all of their workers return to in-office schedules. In a recent Gallup poll, workers were asked about their preferences for remote versus in-office work if they could choose once the Covid-19 threat subsides. Almost sixty percent (59%) said they’d like to work remotely as much as possible post-Covid while 41% said they wanted to return to the office as much as before.
Ivanti also conducted a poll recently during one of our Threat Thursday webinars to grab a snapshot of what people are currently doing in their remote world. Our poll showed over 93% of workers are working remotely in some fashion right now. This 93% spanned answers from ‘everyone is at home working’ to ‘more in the office than working from home’. Of that 93% group, 71% were working from home at least half the time.
Before You Go Back: Plan
How then, should IT plan for these different scenarios? To add to this situation, bad actors are predicted to create a rise in cybersecurity attacks on businesses when remote workers do return to the office. To help your IT Security team with its business continuity planning, begin with MSSL: mobilize, stabilize, strategize and leverage -- a framework from Price Waterhouse Coopers and extended by Ivanti to include cloud.
Step 1: Mobilize
How do you manage and mobilize a workforce working mostly at home now?
There are many criteria to consider when you bring your workforce back to the office. For one, how do you communicate? Remote workers rely heavily now as we know on collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams or Webex. How do you maintain on-going contact with your workforce and respect their privacy? Do you have one way to reach existing employees and another method for furloughed ones? Gone for now is the walk to someone’s desk for a check-in; in this environment you might need to reach employees on their personal cell phones or call after hours.
Step 2: Stabilize
How do you stabilize and maintain your business-critical functions?
You must protect functions that generate revenue for your business. This is a huge challenge. Bringing in revenue is complex and includes much more than making a sale. Product delivery, payment processing and many other processes need to be considered. Identify what your key business activities are and adopt laser-focus strategies to make sure those activities run effectively. At Ivanti, our technical content team, that produces timely security content each week, went through a successful stabilization exercise. An additional layer of scrutiny around the team’s turnaround times was added to ensure the same level of performance was maintained on and off network before our employees became remote workers.
Step 3: Strategize
How do you pivot to meet the needs of this new-world environment and beyond?
We have watched many industries recently make innovative transitions from restaurants converting to take-out models, stores moving to curbside pick-up, and manufacturers shifting to producing personal protection equipment. Because of pandemic-induced stressors, businesses have responded by increasing demand, changing supplies, altering capacities, staying agile and reigniting digital transformation plans to fuel change, remain profitable, and stay in business. Those that do not transform and adjust could sadly go out of business.
Step 4: Leverage the Cloud
Finally, how do you add adaptability to your business during these times?
Cloud is a key contributor to your return to work continuity planning process. Even if your organization was invested in cloud pre-Covid-19, the cloud’s benefits have accelerated. For example, investing in a SaaS solution removes the requirements of having servers and staff manage critical physical infrastructure at a physical location. At Ivanti our hybrid cloud strategy allows customers to maintain their on-prem physical environments and flex to the right cloud environment as well.
For more information on business continuity planning for your company’s remote, in-office, hybrid or other back-to-office planning needs, download more information from our May Threat Thursday webinar.
If you are interested in on-going information to monitor cybersecurity threats including lessons learned from Covid-19, please subscribe to our monthly Threat Thursdays Series where we review threat management measures for your IT security teams to avoid ransomware and other types of malware attacks.