Flexible working has jumped from being a pipeline goal to being part of our daily life in a matter of weeks. As employees across Ireland face yet another day in their home office, remote working technologies are being put to the test in a serious way – and all businesses are impacted, regardless of size.
Today, the ability to work flexibly is business-critical and presents certain challenges for medium businesses in Ireland, with remote working quickly becoming a reality for the public sector. But adapting to the new normal is a collaborative effort, calling for unity between senior leaders, IT departments and third-party technology experts. The question is: are organisations prepared for a long-term stint of remote working across the entire workforce – and will they rise to evolving needs when it comes to keeping business rolling?
Public sector organisations also face the prospect of having many of their staff working from home over the coming months. Over a matter of weeks, civil and public servants have had to embrace new ways of working and many organisations are having to adapt their service model to ensure they can continue meeting the needs of citizens in Ireland. The question for the public sector is: how can organisations use technology to foster a remote working culture that’s engaging, productive and which meets the needs of service users?
Working from home is not new. The connected office has long been deemed a critical enabler of the modern era’s distributed workforce, bringing productivity and experience boosters. By 2018, 15% of workers across Europe were able to work from home with Ireland slightly above the average, at 19.3%.
These numbers might sound low given the sharp shift in working practices today as we come to terms with a pandemic, but they add to the upward trajectory of the trend towards more flexible working – though proportionally, the self-employed tend to account for the majority here. Future working has now been fast-tracked. Now, it needs to be sustainable in order to keep workers at home and safe for as long as necessary.
While challenging, this is also a massive opportunity for organisations in Ireland to demonstrate their agility – and for those lacking agility, to prioritise it. There is no doubt that this seismic shift will test both security and infrastructure, but flexible working can boost productivity too.
For example, becoming less camera shy and switching on webcams means better employee and client engagement – essential for continued relationship building and productivity. As the workforce settles into their home office, there are considerations that need to be made in terms of security – keeping applications safe in the data centre and protecting end-point data – supporting network traffic and enabling increased flexibility.
Small and medium businesses in Ireland are well placed to adapt – without the burden of legacy technologies that slow down larger organisations. Progress is also visible in the public sector with technology keeping teachers connected with students and keeping frontline workers safe while remaining connected to their patients.
Setting up the home office with the right devices gives the connectivity and performance essential to sustain collaborative teams. With a remote workforce, it’s more important than ever to provide the tools, training and resources to ensure teams collaborate and stay connected.
Extending security to the home office
By increasing the number of devices connected to the network, the challenge will be managing and processing the additional data. To completely overhaul existing current networks is unrealistic for most organisations, as this not only takes time but is a drain on resources. Instead, edge computing can help to process data while limiting the impact on the enterprise cloud by only sending selected data.
All the while, questions around security are universally relevant as thousands of employees in the world of business and in the public sector log on from home – for organisations not as accustomed to flexible working, these might be relatively fresh.
A new Europol report on the criminal landscape reveals that the number of cyber-attacks against individuals and organisations is expected to increase. This is due to the increased surface area susceptible to attack now that the home workforce is connecting remotely to their organisations’ systems. For smaller or medium businesses, cyber-attacks can be devastating as the ability to recover is curbed by a lack of resources, while for public sector organizations they can impinge upon their vital day-to-day operations as data is now integral to the success of public services
Data must be protected from the endpoint to the data centre, which means every step of the chain needs to be assessed and also reviewed as the business landscape changes. A key element to that is to ensure team members have a good understanding of cybersecurity basics. Regular training and testing of workers to help them identify security threats, which can come in many forms including phishing attacks, are good practice and especially when the threats are high.
Seamless, scalable remote working solutions
Thanks to software-defined workspaces, employees can access the tools and apps they need on any device. This keeps the day-to-day business rolling, ensuring the playing field is levelled in terms of accessibility and updates.
As organisations across the private and public sector adjust to the all-in working from home demands, they may find that consumption and ‘as-a-service’ solutions on-premise will help – particularly with economics and the short turn-around they have been faced with. For example, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure provides secure, high-performance access for critical users while the Hybrid Cloud can scale data centre resources without on-prem.
Despite new challenges that will undoubtedly be uncovered, organizations in Ireland can discover new ways of working that could change the shape of work as we know it. But collaboration is key. We transform as an ecosystem with the support of our colleagues and partners – not alone. We are all in this together.
*Dell Technologies supports remote working with Unified Workspace deploying, securing and managing devices from the cloud. Meanwhile, with the Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, remote workers are enabled to boost productivity – while IT management costs are streamlined.
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