Remote workers, the networks that support them and the new normal

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by JP González

 “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” — Albert Einstein

The list of benefits companies reaped from flexible work policies had been growing almost as fast as the share of remote knowledge workers long before “social distancing” entered the vernacular. Working from home is considered an “employee perk,” but it is just as beneficial for employers in terms of improved job satisfaction, higher productivity, effective recruiting, greater retention, fewer sick days, and lower emissions. With the current lockdown/shelter-in-place orders, business continuity is now a noteworthy perk. While the projected unemployment figures coming out of the pandemic are staggering, the ability for a large segment of the workforce to remain productive is helping shore-up the economy and keeping the bottom from falling-out in the face of a tremendously disruptive force.

Underpinning this “hidden workforce” is a patchwork of residential broadband, wireless connectivity, and enterprise networks being put to the test. Video conferences are competing for bandwidth with streaming services and educational tools. Remote access to corporate applications has grown dramatically as businesses scramble to address an evolving connectivity and threat landscape. Communications service providers are working to address increased demand for collaboration and communication tools, datacenter connectivity, internet services and IPSec access to VPNs amidst limitations on physical access to buildings and locations.

When the world emerges from crisis mode (and trust me, we will), the remote worker paradigm will have been put to the test. Enterprises who may have been reluctant to give up the cubicle farm will be armed with first-hand experience with the pros and cons of a remote workforce. I wager the pros will outweigh the cons and what started reluctantly will engender a voracious appetite for remote work –both in terms of increased flexibility as well as, in some cases, full-time remote work. The “new normal” folks keep talking about will likely include a higher proportion of knowledge workers telecommuting. Enterprises and service providers alike would be well advised to shore-up the makeshift infrastructure put in place to react to the curve ball being thrown their way by this new virus.

As the dust begins to settle, savvy enterprises and the communications service providers that support them will analyze this experience and take stock of lessons learned. What worked, what didn’t, and how can we make it better? How do we better prepare for the next surprise mother nature sends our way? How can the business model be improved to optimize connectivity, enhance collaboration and improve network security? In the continuous improvement cycle of planning, building and running business processes it is important to take the data the business generates and create a feedback loop to inform the next plan, build, and run cycle. As enterprises evolve work policies, Communications Service Providers will need to be ready to securely deliver the unified communications, collaboration, and network connectivity services they will need –and Ronin Technology Advisors will be ready to help.

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