For the flexible work revolution to succeed long-term, it needs a secure internet to match.  The truth is, most employees and executives want to continue working remotely. Eighty percent of executives intend to continue allowing remote work after the COVID-19 pandemic is resolved, and 96% of employees want remote work to continue in some capacity as well. Some big tech companies like Zillow, Twitter, and Nationwide Insurance are announcing a permanent shift to remote work.

Despite the clearly expressed preference for it, 94% of professionals report they face challenges when working from home. The big three challenges troubling workers with regard to their internet are speed, security, and simplicity. Regarding speed, research suggests that weak internet disables productivity. Despite many companies providing employees a VPN, over two-thirds of workers had issues with it. Thirty-five percent of surveyors reported not completing work due to slow internet. At the height of COVID, 43% used their phones as hotspots to keep their internet connection running. Compounding the issue of speed is in-home data usage, which reached 16.6 GB per month. When data usage rises quickly, real time services such as VoIP and video conferencing are the first to be affected.

On the issue of security, 60% of organizations report an increase in cyberattacks since transitioning to remote work. The top risks are, in order: VDI/RDP, Phishing, and VPN vulnerability. Before the pandemic, 71% of companies believed their security measures were effective. Now, only 44% do. A permanent transition to remote work will require companies to perform serious upgrades to their cybersecurity infrastructure.

Finally, on the subject of simplicity, clunky VPNs and remote access software can be difficult for non-technically inclined workers to understand. Their lack of understanding and subsequent struggle to use the software makes it difficult to be productive. Surveys suggest the majority of remote workers are unhappy with their VPN experience. On the side of IT administrators, there currently exists a need to deploy multiple hardware and software solutions to connect remote users in a secure fashion. Virtual desktop infrastructure (the VDI referenced earlier) creates additional struggles. 

At this time, just 39% of organizations say they have the expertise required to manage remote work and mitigate the associated security risks. Before remote work can become permanent, that number needs to be far higher. Tasks that companies must tackle to remove remote work obstacles include setting up zero-trust network access with full visibility, optimizing network protocols and rotes while increasing network reliability, and simplifying connectivity by removing unnecessary hardware and lowering administrative costs.

Brian Wallace is the Founder and President of NowSourcing, an industry leading content marketing agency that makes the world’s ideas simple, visual, and influential. Brian has been named a Google Small Business Advisor for 2016-present and joined the SXSW Advisory Board in 2019-present. One way to accomplish the reimagination of network access for a remote workforce is by working with Ananda Networks. They can help companies move to a cloud-managed SASE model. Working with them allows companies to develop a private network in minutes instead of weeks using only a software deployment. Additionally, they will upgrade security to zero-trust and bring companies up to 25x performance. All these benefits come with cost savings as Ananda significantly lowers the total cost of ownership.

Remote working stock photo by fizkes/Shutterstock