The devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic came with many difficulties, but there were a few consolation prizes along the way. For companies, one of those was the ability to see whether remote work could be a viable option as a widespread policy. As a result of this forced experiment, many companies are permanently adopting hybrid or remote work environments. However, ensuring adequate connectivity to employees remains a challenge.
If connectivity is a central priority for supporting remote work at your organization, here are four ways you may want to think about it:
The Relationship with the ISP: Providing connectivity to your geographically dispersed workforce is challenging without involvement from the Internet Service Provider (ISP). Talk with the provider to see if they offer what’s often referred to as a “business-lite” option that offers improved security features and better service level agreements. These plans are growing due to the widespread growth of remote work.
It would help if you also talked with the ISP about the security of the Internet connection and whether it can securely support virtual private networks (VPNs) and antivirus software.
The Network Perimeter: When everyone was working in-house, and before the advent of broad cloud access, the network had a precise perimeter. Network engineers secured the perimeter with firewalls, effectively blocking any suspicious traffic.
The perimeter has eroded and all but disappeared in the age of cloud solutions and remote work. However, it also demands the education of employees about the risk of using VPNs over public Wi-Fi and the importance of robust user and device authentication.
The Use of VPNs: VPNs provide a way for remote employees to access secure connectivity through a virtual tunnel. However, they were never intended for the level of connectivity that permanently remote or hybrid environments demand. With additional levels of security, upstream traffic can become congested. In addition, residential, particularly cable, networks tend to be constrained on upstream flows, so performance becomes an issue.
Where this often comes into play with remote work is equipping employees for collaboration. VPNs are not designed for lengthy collaborations between geographically disparate parties.
Underserved Locations: Another concern on network professionals' minds is those employees in rural areas where broadband may be promised but has yet to be installed. This circumstance may limit the connectivity to certain workers. A new Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act should help remedy the limited connectivity with far-reaching high-speed connections, but it will take time to implement.
Addressing the connectivity of your teams is an ongoing process, but there may be immediate steps you can take to remedy some of your challenges. Contact us at ITBroker.com for guidance in leveraging the right policies and solutions to improve performance, as well as access to your company resources for remote teams.