COVID-19 has indeed turned out to be a black swan event. None of us have ever seen anything even remotely like this in our lifetime. This is undoubtedly going to change the world as we have known it to be.
Regardless of how long the current situation persists and as countries, communities and businesses limp back to some sort of near normalcy, what is certain is that there will be the emergence of a “New Normal”. A new normal where in-person and face to face interaction will be minimized, and transacting digitally and conducting business through virtual platforms is going to become increasingly prevalent and eventually a de facto standard.
While there will be an explosion of a broad spectrum of Digital Channels and Platforms, it will also lead to the mass adoption of Remote Working and Work from anywhere as a commonly accepted corporate practice. Even though remote working has been common in certain industry sectors, especially with the tech companies, however there is now a paradigm shift with companies and sectors across the board where flexible and remote working will become a business necessity.
For companies and businesses that are not used to Remote working, this is a lot easier said than done. While technology will play a huge role, however there are certain broader aspects of approaching this, which will be crucial in defining the successful and pervasive adoption of this change.
Here is a take on the macro aspects of putting together a four point Remote Working Strategy for an Enterprise :
Any Remote access solution, be it VPN or VDI based, that was designed pre-Covid will have to be re engineered like a platform, to take into consideration the multi fold increase in scale and user traffic. It will need to have the capacity to onboard a very large number of users and also manage the traffic that is routed back to the corporate intranet or directly to the internet for SaaS applications. This will also have to take into account that fact that organizations will increase their use of SaaS applications itself significantly from email, to collaboration to security and so on.
When users are inside an office, they are protected by the highly robust Security infrastructure that has been put in place in Enterprise Networks and Datacenters. However when the same user is now connecting from a broadband internet, they are openly exposed to attackers and hackers and no amount of investment in the corporate security infrastructure is enough if that user gets compromised.
It is now critically important to build an integrated security architecture which provides authentication to both the users and devices they use and also monitors and protects them from connecting to or accessing malicious internet domains. This also needs to seamlessly work in conjunction with the malware detection and prevention software on the device for this framework to be effective.
How remote workers communicate and collaborate with each other is the most important aspect of any successful remote working strategy and solution. This applies equally to both internal employees and customers. A seamless collaboration experience is the ability of a user to join a virtual meeting from anywhere and any device with one touch and with the best quality of audio and video.
Users should be able to access these meetings from their laptops, smartphones, tablets or room based video conferencing units in office, and even take calls on their home landlines or mobile phones with the same ease. This is internal employee Digitization and is not just a part of a BCP strategy but eventually becomes a way of life which allows organizations to unlock enormous productivity benefits and long term value.
None of the above are possible if organizations don’t embrace this as a cultural change. Culture is a reflection of the true identity of any organization and it is always driven top down from the CEOs and CXOs. The technology element is a manifestation of the cultural element, however once a certain critical mass is achieved, these 2 elements will start feeding off each other and lead to the evolution of a truly democratized organizational culture. Trust will also play a crucial role, as managers will have to trust their subordinates working from home and the employees will have to live up to that trust.
The digital disruption is inevitable. Crisis will create opportunity and adversity will drive change. But only those organization which have the ability to unlearn and embrace change not because it was imposed but because it presented an incredible opportunity to transform, will emerge as the leaders in their respective domains. Regardless of how one sees it, remote and flexible working is here to stay.
Director Enterprise Business,