Admins, start your VPNs! As oil and gas prices soar, IT organizations should prepare to support more remote workers.

On Tuesday, Goldman Sachs analyst Arjun N. Murti predicted that oil prices may hit $150 or even $200 a barrel in the next six months to two years. Murti believes this “super-spike” will be driven by a lack of adequate growth in supply and could lead to demand rationing in developed nations (particularly the United States). Whether Murti’s prediction comes to fruition or not, fuel prices and transportation costs are likely to continue their steep rise for the foreseeable future–barring the unlikely discovery of new, easily-accessible oil reserves or the rapid development of alternative energy sources.

As transportation costs rise, organizations and workers will look for ways to reduce travel. For many employees, this will mean working from home to eliminate the daily commute. As I wrote in response to IBM’s prediction that the “virtual workplace will become the rule”, I’m not convinced the traditional office workplace is in immediate peril, but I believe a hybrid model will emerge. Employees will work from home a few days each week.

Today’s lesson: Start preparing now

Many IT organizations, particularly in large enterprises, already support a distributed workforce. IT leaders within this category should ensure their infrastructure has the capacity to support increased demand. IT departments not currently supporting remote users should begin exploring their options now. At the very least, you should make certain your network can support existing remote workplace technologies. Also, IT will not be immune from this trend. IT leaders must develop the skills and techniques required to manage a distributed workforce.

Here are resources that can help you support and manage remote workers: