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Scaling remote working & work from home in bigger companies

12 Feb 2021

Nearly three-quarters (74%) of companies plan to shift at least 5% of their on-site employees to permanent remote working in the near future, according to a Gartner report. About a quarter say one in five on-site employees will work remotely in the future.

Moving to remote working in the long-term requires a more strategic approach to policies, processes and technologies.

For businesses not used to working in this way, the last year has been about adapting processes quickly to deal with short-term disruption.

Any plans to now adopt these changes long term requires a rethink of how to effectively scale remote working and what role technology will play.

Are you getting what you need from the cloud?

Using the cloud is the ideal platform to build a remote working solution that allows employees to work from anywhere, without the risk of losing access to communication tools or suffering falls in productivity.

Wherever they are, they’ll have access to a virtual environment, with all the applications and information they’d have from a physical office. It’s also highly flexible, secure and scalable.

For a business needing to adapt quickly to change, the cloud offers the perfect place to operate.

Which is why (according to this report):

  • 94% of organisations use cloud services
  • 66% of organisations have a central cloud management team
  • 30% of IT spend is used on cloud platforms.

But while the need to use and expand cloud computing is increasing, so is the need to improve access controls for security, stay compliant with data protection and improve the efficiency of the cloud network.

Plus, with 44% of businesses expecting flexible and remote working practices to remain in place long term according to our Future Ready Report, now is the ideal time to assess the health of your cloud estate and understand how it can help you fine-tune your remote working solution.

Access demand and control

As the number of people working remotely increases, businesses are seeing greater network usage and bandwidth demand.

Employees are trying to access their business’ applications and data using a variety of devices — smartphones, tablets and laptops — and from different networks, like public Wi-Fi or home broadband.

As a result, it’s difficult to accurately determine the specific needs of teams and individuals working from home or in-the-field.

Providing the right devices

To address these challenges, you need to provide employees with the best tools for the job and the connectivity to support them.

In a home-based or remote working environment, employees need devices that maximise their mobility. Who knows when they may need to work from a cafe instead of the kitchen or meet a client for a quick impromptu debrief.

Using Device Lifecycle Management, for example, you can select the best devices for your employees from top distributors. These devices can then be built and configured based on your requirements.

This means your employees always have the tools they need. Once they’re configured, the devices are then delivered straight to your workforce. All they have to do is turn them on.

Thinking about connectivity

As well as providing the right devices, you also need to deliver the right connectivity and access for home-based and remote workers.

Executives, for example, need the highest level of access as they’re meeting with clients and managing deals. They’ll need quick access to specific facts and figures around company performance or projections, along with the highest levels of security.

Customer service representatives, on the other hand, need reliable connectivity and up-to-date information on customer engagements.

When dealing with customers they’ll need reliable access to their management system so they can see the contact history for customers and easily pick up where their colleague get to with handling an ongoing enquiry.

They can’t keep customers on hold for five minutes (or sometimes longer) every time they need to pull up a record.

Finally, there’s the question of how your business’ infrastructure is hosted — and whether that will change in the future. With demand increasing and ways of working changing, is it enough to have everything on-premise?

Will employees need 24/7 access to their applications and data moving forward? And can your cloud infrastructure scale to accommodate new needs?

Scaling and capacity planning

In the immediate future, this shift to remote working is creating several critical questions which businesses need answers to:

  • How many people will need access to the network remotely?
  • How much bandwidth will each user require for their roles? (for example, web and email applications will need lower bandwidth than video conferencing)
  • How sensitive to latency are particular applications going to be?
  • Are there any predictable increases in demand you need to plan into the network?

Figuring out the answers to these questions will help businesses understand how their remote access infrastructure will meet the needs of their business in the long term.

Network capacity planning is one of the most important considerations for businesses – particularly as many businesses turn to a hybrid working environment.

Location data and technology platform HERE is one business that needs reliable network capacity. The HERE platform uses connected devices and data to alert drivers of obstacles in the road and send real-time alerts so they can take action.

In this situation, ensuring there is no lag between data being sent and received is critical. They’re working to solve the problem using Distributed Edge Computing (along with 5G) which means data is managed closer to the end-user, removing delays in data being transferred.

This is a unique and specific example of the necessity of building scale and reliability into networks, but the principles play out the same in any business situation.

Even something as simple as lag on a customer video call can lead to lost business. So understanding how your network and connections can handle increasing use of video conferencing is becoming essential.

Creating a multi-cloud environment

While many organisations have moved to the cloud, 81% of enterprises have operated a multi-cloud strategy up until now.

With a multi-cloud strategy, you aren’t limited to the solutions of a single provider, giving you access to a much broader range of tools and services, and you can allocate your cloud budget better based on your requirements. It’s also much easier to manage, scalable and — if done correctly — faster.

The key is to choose the right multi-cloud platform that offers you the greatest choice of additional services (or the means to build your own) without creating integration problems.

As it stands, more than 70% of organisations today use up to 15 cloud environments — but the interconnectivity of these clouds and how they can be accessed causes data vulnerabilities. This is just one of the reasons why we’ve partnered with IBM to help remove the complexity and barriers from multi-cloud solutions to ensure data and applications flow freely and securely.

Clients will also be able to access the open, flexible technologies they need to integrate multiple clouds and prepare for the next wave of digital transformation enabled by AI, 5G, Edge Computing and Software-Defined Networking (SDN).

Similarly, you don’t want to replicate services across different clouds. Instead, use services that compliment each other and add capabilities. This way you’ll be able to draw from services and solutions across multiple cloud providers while keeping their management centralised.

This has all the benefits of accessing multiple clouds, without the added administration.

Benefits of assessing your cloud infrastructure today

Ultimately, as more organisations look to the cloud to keep employees connected, and productive, those with an existing cloud infrastructure have an opportunity to optimise their cloud environment.

By taking steps now to remove unnecessary aspects, understand existing cloud assets, reassign access controls, and identify security vulnerabilities, businesses can start to make their cloud environment more efficient to deal with the changing demands of a remote workforce.

Looking further into the future and what we’re seeing with the development of intelligent networks, businesses will start to bring in tools like SD-WAN, which allows for data to be automatically sent down the most available route to avoid disruption or delays.

These autonomous networks, built on top of existing cloud infrastructure, will help take the management of capacity and data transfer away from IT teams and provide almost real-time feedback on the performance of the network so managers can plan for adding more capacity in the future.

As teams become more dispersed permanently with remote working, and businesses begin to move towards a hybrid working model, management of data and network capacity needs to be brought up to date to create an efficient platform for workers to operate.

Ready to find out more? Download our guide on how to manage the evolving remote workplace.

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