As governments around the world respond to developments in the ongoing health crisis by relaxing lockdown strictures, you may be looking forward for the opportunity for things to just get back to normal. But it’s safe to say that a lot of things have changed over the past few months, most likely for your business included. What will the new normal be?
For starters, many business adopted a temporary work-from-home policy for their employees who could fulfill normal office duties from their living room. It’s likely that many of those employees will remain working from home even after the pandemic wraps up – once the concept is proven to work reasonably well, a company with new remote work arrangements may just decide to stay the course.
Furthermore, a recent Gallup poll found that 60% of workers would prefer an arrangement to work from home as much as possible. This means that remote work arrangements will likely become more commonplace even for businesses who are not currently operating under such a system, in order for those firms to remain competitive in the hiring market going forward. After all, ‘skipping the morning commute’ is a heck of a benefit to throw into the corporate benefits package – and it costs the company nothing!
Secondly, a rapid expansion in work from home arrangements among businesses could lead to corporate office space shuffling. A firm that suddenly relegates half of its onsite workers to remote working arrangements could very soon decide to downsize its leased office space at the earliest opportunity, or at the very least delay a planned expansion of space. For those firms delaying further expansion, of course nothing must be done from a security perspective. However, any change in an existing system opens up the risk of a misconfiguration or other problem that exposes a network to attacks. Firms that relocate or change their office space plans should add a thorough review of their current and projected network architecture, so as to not inadvertently expose themselves to security risks during the changeover.
Speaking of network risks, now is as good of a time as any to consider redundancy for your office’s network connectivity. One risk that a heavily weighted work-from-home environment must plan for is a sudden internet outage. Just as a sudden power outage at the office could interrupt the work day under normal circumstances, an internet outage at the main office could materially interrupt work for remote workers. Being unable to temporarily access company resources during an internet outage could freeze your employees until service is restored.
That means it’s a good idea to consider a few backup solutions for your network connectivity. First, if it’s available in your area, one thing your company can do is to have redundant internet connections from different internet providers leading to your network. You might have one ‘fast’ link for main usage and one inexpensive ‘slow’ link that sits idle in the background, or you might just have two links of identical speed for full redundancy. Your system can be configured to automatically change over if one link goes down, and alert you in the process that something is wrong.
Also, you can consider hosting some of your resources on the internet as well. Whether that means keeping a cloud-hosted backup for your onsite server, or by hosting the entire server online in the cloud, shifting some resources online provides additional redundancy for your business by ensuring that those resources are hosted in extremely secure and accessible locations around the world. Cloud-based computing offers 99.99% uptime or better guarantees for hosted resources and hosts your data at multiple sites – that way, even if a massive disaster hits one datacenter, your data is safe in another.
Business has changed a lot over the last few months, and some of that’s for the better. By being forced to rapidly adjust to unusual circumstances, businesses have had the opportunity to try new and potentially more viable working arrangements once the status quo was no longer possible. With change comes risk, however, and businesses should take extra care during this adjustment period to ensure that their networks remain secure.