Move Over IT: The New Remote Work Perk is a Top-Down Strategy with Multiple Players

More than a year into working remotely during the pandemic, one thing is clear: The majority of employees don’t want to return to the pre-pandemic daily grind. Instead, many of them now consider a hybrid work environment (working in a remote/in-office combination) as a preferred “perk.”

In one recent poll of U.S. employees, for example, half noted they would not return to a job, post-pandemic, that didn’t offer them remote work as an option.1

Thanks to higher productivity from remote workers and lower operating costs, companies are seriously considering offering that perk. Indeed, some major brands (Spotify, Google, and Microsoft, for example) have already announced plans for supporting a remote work environment as a way to attract and retain the best and brightest individuals.

IT’s Supporting Role in the Remote Work Perk

No company can offer the perk of remote work without a network that can support it securely from any device and location. And not just support it, but make network access intuitive, homogenous, and collaborative for an exponential amount of end-users.

It’s a formidable task for corporate IT staff members, not only because the directive is being mandated from the top down, but also because it involves a supporting role for corporate IT. Indeed, to offer the perk of remote work, IT is now one of three players, including Facilities and HR — departments that may have an incomplete understanding of the complexities involved in retooling and reimagining a network that optimizes and transforms the way work gets done.

An important part of IT’s role in this cooperative process involves thinking about and promoting — step by step — the job of transforming an existing legacy system into a truly optimized, resilient network that employees can access freely, including:

  • Key functions:
    • Zero-trust security is the top priority. Data has to be protected against purposeful attacks from cybercriminals and accidental breaches from employees who are logging in from a myriad of devices and locations.
    • Centralized control for deploying, managing, and troubleshooting
    • Optimized applications
    • Scalability that adjusts to remote user growth

  • Core capabilities: This includes the hardware and software that enables secure remote work on-premise, hybrid, or in the cloud. SD-WAN and Wi-Fi provide the “remote” piece of secure remote work, with the network prepped and ready for the future state of Wi-Fi 6. Core capabilities also encompass optimization tools and emerging technologies for analytics and troubleshooting, as well as the eventual procedures and processes for returning to the corporate office in some capacity.

  • End-user characteristics: For employees to do their best work on their own and with others (co-workers, vendors, customers), the network has to support communication and collaboration in a way that feels natural and barely there.

  • Resiliency: To ensure business continuity, the network must be resilient and able to recover — rapidly — from planned and unplanned disruptions, including those caused by civil unrest, environmental disasters, and terrorism.

Choosing a Secure Remote Work Partner

If you don’t have the resources in place to accomplish a network transformation — one that’s on a demanding, highly-visible deadline and includes shared input of other departments — you may want to partner with expert who has your best interests in mind. 

When choosing a partner who can help you reimagine your current network, consider these attributes:

  • Certified, experienced architects and engineers who offer solution lifecycle support for deep knowledge and discounts — and less stress on your IT staff. Look for knowledgeable assessments of your current environment; a thoughtful, detailed roll-out plan; and post-implementation support.  
  • A full security suite of hardware and software. Security should be built-in from the ground up and not as an afterthought. The suite must work together seamlessly with the strength of a strong brand behind it.
  • Simplified license management, such as one subscription and renewal rate purchased through one vendor.
  • Discounts for purchasing products together, as well as free, built-in growth.
  • The ability to try before you buy with trials and proof of value (POV).

Ready to take the next step? As a gold-certified Cisco partner, Black Box can help you secure, retool, and reimagine a network that’s optimized for secure remote work, resilient to disruption, and a perk for attracting and retaining leading job candidates.

To learn more about secure remote work, download our Secure Remote Worker guide “So Long 9-5”.

1State of Remote Work, COVID Edition 2020: How employees across the U.S. feel about working remotely in a post-COVID-19 world, their new workplace expectations, and what employers need to know to recruit and retain top talent; OWL Labs, Global Workplace Analytics

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