There’s no doubt the events of 2020 have changed how we do business. Around the globe, employees are fashioning DIY workspaces from kitchen tables and sharing virtual lunch breaks with their colleagues by video.

However, the shift towards remote work started long ago.  According to the Federal Reserve, the number of employees working from home has tripled over the last 15 years. 2020 has only accelerated this trend.

And, new opportunities are emerging. For example, as companies start planning to return to the workplace, many are formalizing broader remote working policies. This is driven by improvements in workplace productivity, reduced operational costs, and the fact many employees want to keep working from home once organizations reopen their doors.

To build a more resilient business model, and replace uncertainty with confidence, it’s critical to strengthen your remote strategy for the long term – starting today.

Remote working is the new normal

Diagram 2 Remote Work

According to a recent Gartner study, some employees who have been working from home due to recent events will continue to do so after workers return to the office. Nearly a quarter of CFOs are planning to move at least 20% of their on-site employees to permanent remote positions to keep costs down. By 2030, as Generation Z fully enters the workforce, the demand for remote work is expected to increase by 30%.

Currently, many employees are using temporary infrastructures to work from home – and while these ad hoc arrangements do the job for now, there are important requirements to address before they become permanent.

Investing in resilience today

Recent research shows there’s a gap between the need for remote work and the technology to achieve it. For example, 54% of HR leaders told Gartner that a lack of infrastructure is the biggest barrier to working remotely in their organization.

From adversity comes innovation, so the growing demand for remote working technology – alongside security and network access – creates an enormous opportunity for digital transformation. But first, you need to help secure your future with time-tested tools that meet your organization’s unique requirements. Here’s where to start.

Network and security

To optimize for remote work, your employees need the right tools, and your company needs a secure, always-on network. Without it, IT teams will face challenges in delivering 24×7 availability, resolving network and server issues, and preventing security breaches.

As an immediate concern, cyberattacks have been increasing, with attackers exploiting vulnerable remote workers. In response, organizations should consider adding security reminders on lock screens, and improving training, as well as bolstering at-scale security technology.

Server access

By providing your workers with an encrypted connection to your company’s server through a VPN, you can give them access to confidential files on demand to meet critical deadlines.

Lack of vigilance is already the biggest risk to cybersecurity, so VPN server access can help protect your organization as staff connect to unsecured Wi-Fi networks from home.

Collaboration software

Video conferencing and collaboration software are in extraordinary demand, but their popularity has exposed some security and reliability issues. To help your teams work safely and privately, no matter where they’re located, invest in an enterprise-friendly solution with strong security, and options for voice, video, and text.

High-quality enterprise software can also record meetings, share transcriptions of calls, and provide the ability to set up recurring meetings as needed.

Strengthening remote work for the future

If there’s one lesson for businesses to take from this turbulent period, it’s that change happens fast. But that’s not to say an organization can’t prepare.

To stay resilient for the future, it’s important to revisit your existing emergency measures now – assessing what must be updated, changed, or replaced to overcome obstacles to productivity.

As part of this effort, you should understand your network’s availability and address any recurring performance issues. Also, keep your focus on cybersecurity and continue training your teams to prevent attacks. After all, remote working isn’t just a viable strategy for today – it will help you thrive in the long term.

Getting more from your technology

There’s an old saying that an organization built on innovation is better prepared for change. At Cisco, we’re working to do our part by providing solutions, technology, tips, and resources to help you stay ahead and focus your business on what truly matters. That includes helping our customers continue to invest in the necessary tools and solutions to be secure, connected, and productive.

Recently, we announced $2.5 billion in financing with a new Business Resiliency Program, designed to help you access the technology you need now, so you can invest in recovery. We’re also providing free technology and support to meet your requirements for remote working, contact center, and security.

To get the most from your technology investments, Cisco Business Critical Services (BCS) experts are available for:

  • Targeted remote solution sessions: Your IT team can explore questions about quickly deploying remote work solutions to optimize for high performance
  • Meetings with consulting engineers: Discuss topics like device-level performance and configuration compliance to address your corporate policies
  • Change window support: Connect with BCS experts to discuss how to address change windows as you deploy or upgrade
  • 1:1 Accelerator workshops: Engage with our experts on specific use cases you encounter

As you plan, design, deploy, and manage your company’s technologies, BCS can help you build a strong and resilient remote workforce that’s secure, connected, and productive, whether they’re at work in the office, or the home office.

For more insights on optimizing remote working, visit Business Critical Services.