Adapt to enable the new normal: Work from home   

The last couple of weeks have been an entirely new experience for Indians. Never in my memory have so many people been confined to their homes, and never have we been forced to find overnight solutions for maintaining work or learn ‘normality’. While working from home may now be the ‘new normal’, the speed at which individuals and organizations have had to adapt to this change has left them grappling. Not only do they have to find ways of making sure business continues with the least disruption, but they also need to do it in a safe and secure manner. 

 Adaptation is the need of the hour

With an increased focus on business continuity amid this health emergency, organizations need to think both from short term and long-term perspective. Having said that, most companies are not yet there in having the right IT infrastructure and homes are also under-equipped to enable a seamless remote working. A recent report by research and advisory firm Gartner pointed out the fact that many organisations’ inadequate technology and/or infrastructure has been the biggest barrier to effective remote working. 

 Today, there is hardly any aspect of life that remains untouched. Businesses have been at the forefront of this adoption and significant investments have been made on this front. But a bulk of these IT investments have been centred around the office. As a result, many companies have struggled to maintain business continuity as employees have not been able to log in from home. Even governments have faced this situation, as a large part of the government’s IT infrastructure is built around legacy systems – a fact that presents obvious challenges for an ideal “work from home” scenario.

 Working remotely comes with its unique challenges – of collaboration, of connectivity, of security – and companies must think of ways to address these aspects to be able to adapt efficiently. The first aspect is fairly easy – a laptop computer with a mic enabled headset, wi-fi connectivity – along with productivity and collaboration tools to is all that is needed for an employee to log in remotely and keep operations running. 

 Fighting on unfamiliar turf

 In a situation where a majority of the workforce is logging in remotely, may also result in a risk to sensitive information. Home or networks are vulnerable to cybercriminals. Hence, network and device security have become one of the key concerns for both small and large organizations. This is all the more critical in India, which is among the top targets for malicious cyber-attacks in the world. As per industry reports, India ranks among the top 5 nations in the world targeted by cyber attackers through malicious attempts such as hacking and ransomware. 

 And it’s not just the private sector that needs to be prepared for such an eventuality; the Government should too, as their workforce has started embracing this model. There is a dire need for considering appropriate security and device solutions to ensure mobility and flexibility – so government staff can work remotely when needed, to keep the public services afloat in testing times like now. 

 Solving the conundrum

While most office IT infrastructure is designed to safeguard against such threats, a typical home may not have the right level of security solution along with the device ecosystem. Endpoints such as PCs, printers, Wi-Fi routers and IoT devices are on the frontline of the cybersecurity battleground. Investing in devices that come with advanced security features like in-built LTE connectivity, webcam kill switches and BIOS security should be the top priority. 

 Further, companies and government should also look at counselling employees on security best practices while working remotely and mandating multi-factor authentication access. Going forward, we will see an increasing need for such remote collaboration across sectors especially in the healthcare, public utilities and security space. The authorities and government bodies need to work together with solution providers to make the home offices effective and services more productive with the assurance of data security.

 What lies in the future?

The open, borderless world has been thwarted in such an unprecedented situation. Businesses and governments are showing resilience and adapting to the new normal. The silver lining is we are having clarity of prioritization for the future. Risk management plans for both public and private enterprises will have to be reviewed, security protocols need to be addressed, and infrastructure is updated to provide mobility and flexibility to address any such situations that may arise again. It doesn’t have to be daunting as collaboration and security are not always about the technology alone. 

 Individuals, companies and governments need to invest in the right tools and technology solutions – with the right level of security, to build a culture which will ensure that we can work seamlessly and efficiently anytime, anywhere. It is the only way that we make sure that that the effects of any such eventuality creates a far lesser disruption to our lives, as we are seeing today.

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.

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