Many businesses were left scrambling in the wake of last year’s lockdown, and the quick fix solutions adopted to rapidly allow for a remote workforce were often full of holes. Given the economic circumstances and the pressure to be up and running fast, many businesses simply patched up the holes in their technology.
However, organisations that took this ‘band-aid’ approach are starting to realise the vulnerabilities in their systems. The time has come to rip off the band-aids and invest in robust solutions that will make remote working a viable solution in the long-term. From an organisational point of view, there is no going back to our pre-Covid ways, and the future involves a remote workforce.
Not a temporary situation
Modern tech companies may have been well positioned in terms of infrastructure and policy needed for remote working. However, for the vast majority of organisations, remote working was limited to a small number of staff, and mainly for email and other non-operational systems. The lockdown in 2020 was a disruptor of unprecedented proportions, forcing remote workforces to be enabled on a large scale.
To accommodate this need quickly and affordably, the bare minimum requirements were met, but as we adjust to a new world in which the remote workforce has a central role to play, more robust solutions are needed. The large remote workforce shifts organisations’ perimeters and increases the attack vector, leaving data vulnerable to malicious parties if a robust cyber security strategy is not in place.
Data is currency in a digital world. With increased scrutiny on data privacy and protection, and the full enforcement of the Protection of Personal Information Act (PoPIA) on the horizon, securing it is critical. Security, connectivity and data management need to form part of the overarching cybersecurity policy, and remote working policies need to be defined, including secure remote connectivity and end point security. Failing to address these concerns introduces risk and leaves businesses open to security breaches, data loss and non-compliance penalties.
To ensure sustainable, large-scale futuristic work operations that fully support remote working, a combination of technologies is essential. This should include cloud-based robust application infrastructure with no Virtual Private Network (VPNless) access, and a unified engagement platform from employee onboarding and orientation through to communication and collaboration, performance management, reporting and analytics.
From a cybersecurity point of view, organisations need to enforce device encryption, strong password polices, multi-factor contextual access and authentication, as well as data governance policies and practices. It is also essential to develop a remote culture to support employees in developing healthy work-life balance in this new environment.
The future is hybrid
While it is not possible for all employees to work remotely all the time, the reality of the post-Covid world demands that at least certain staff must work outside of the office at least some of the time. Even before Covid, Gartner predicted that, by 2030, the demand for remote work would increase by 30%. However, to successfully incorporate a remote workforce in the long term, a more measured approach is required. A patchwork approach of quick fixes and band-aids is not sustainable and introduces businesses to risk. Data governance and cybersecurity need to be addressed from a holistic point of view, and organisational culture, policies, practices and processes need to be updated. Embracing intelligent technologies to accelerate digital transformation will be key for recovery and competitive advantage.
By Sarthak Rohal, VP – IT Services at AlphaCodes