The COVID-19 pandemic inspired a flexible work revolution. By 2025, 87% more Americans will be working from home than before the COVID-19 pandemic. For working from home to stick around after the pandemic is resolved, companies and homes will need the network of the future to match.
Demand for the new order is certainly present. 80% of executives plan to keep remote work around even once COVID-19 is no longer a threat. 96% of employees want remote work to continue, either full time or with some time still spent in the office. In the tech world, some big companies are announcing a permanent shift to remote work for all or most of their employees. This list includes Square, Facebook, and Coinbase.
Despite the overwhelming desire for working from home, 94% of professionals say they face tech challenges associated with the new way of doing things. The 3 biggest hurdles to a smooth remote work experience are speed, security, and simplicity. For speed, weak internet connections lead to lags on the worker’s end and reduce productivity. Over a third of workers surveyed said they were unable to complete some work due to a slow internet connection. At the height of the pandemic, 43% resorted to using their phones as hotspots in order to meet deadlines. While companies do provide remote workers VPN access, 69% of employees had issues with theirs. In addition, there is an unexpected toll on businesses from VPN/remote access: data usage. In 2020, in-home data usage rose 38% to 16.6 gigabytes per month. Real-time services like VoIP and video conferencing are the first affected by lags and increased usage.
Regarding security, 3 in 5 of organizations have reported an increase in cyberattacks since transitioning to remote work. The top risks are, in order, weaknesses in the virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) or remote desktop services (RDP), as a result of phishing, or due to VPN vulnerabilities. Before COVID-19 hit, 71% of companies believed their security measures were effective at preventing cyberattacks. Now, just 44% of companies believe the same thing.
On the subject of simplicity, many remote procedures have not been around for long enough to become streamlined. Clunky VPNs and remote access software makes it difficult for workers to be productive. Some resources are not available or not easily available when an employee is remote. As a result, the majority of workers are unhappy with their VPN experience. This puts additional strain on IT workers, whose administrators currently need to deploy multiple hardware and software solutions to connect remote users securely to the company network. While VDI can be a great tool in this case, it comes with its own struggles.
At a snapshot, just 39% of organizations say they have the expertise required to manage remote work and mitigate security risks. If they want work from home to be permanent, they need to invest in stronger security, faster networking, and simplified connectivity. The future is close, but it won’t bring itself into existence. Innovation takes work.