The coronavirus pandemic forced organizations to quickly transition to a remote work environment. Such a rapid shift created several challenges, and many of those challenges continue two years later, especially with a hybrid workforce increasingly becoming the norm. A report released Tuesday by cloud platform provider Workspot examines how the move toward a remote workforce has affected cybersecurity and other areas for many organizations.
For its report “The State of Remote Work 2022: A Survey of End-User Computing Decision Makers,” Workspot commissioned market research firm Dimensional Research to survey 304 IT professionals about their remote workforce. The respondents all held responsibility for end-user computing and remote work at companies with more than 200 desktops.
Among those surveyed, virtually all of them acknowledged that they face challenges in supporting remote workers. By far, the top challenge was security, as 71% specifically pointed to issues maintaining security across a wide range of work environments.
The second challenge, cited by 60%, was making sure that remote employees are compliant with new controls. Close behind, as mentioned by 59%, was ensuring that user devices deliver the expected performance in remote locations.
Other challenges included managing data on local devices, enabling collaboration for teams, acquiring and delivering the right hardware for remote workers, supporting changing network requirements, handling increased calls to the help desk, identifying and delivering applications that fit the needs of remote workers, and establishing productive technology environments for remote employees.
Focusing on security, the respondents identified several specific challenges they’ve faced in securing a remote or hybrid workforce. Some 67% said that the expanded security perimeter has demanded new approaches and new tools, 54% said it’s harder to secure user devices outside the corporate firewall, 51% pointed to challenges in evaluating risk levels for unknown environments and 48% said that using identity management tools to ensure the right authentication and authorization is more difficult.
With the shift toward remote and hybrid work, IT budgets have had to adapt and change accordingly. Asked which areas of the budget would be increased this year, 92% of the respondents pointed to security, 78% cited cloud infrastructure and 75% mentioned cloud services.
Other areas due for an increase in funding included collaboration tools, productivity solutions, employee environments (audio, video, etc.), virtual desktop infrastructure (on-premises or cloud-based) and user experience monitoring.
Despite the budget boosts, many of the IT professionals admitted difficulties in properly supporting their remote workforce. Asked if they have the necessary resources for this type of support, 30% said they have everything they need and more. However, 37% said they have enough but just barely, 26% said that it’s never enough, and 6% said they clearly lack the necessary resources.
“IT leaders continue to face many challenges in the midst of the new workplace paradigm, but through this process they have realized the power of the cloud,” Workspot co-founder and CEO Amitabh Sinha said in a press release. “To continue supporting the ‘anywhere’ workforce, more established strategies around cloud migration, VDI modernization and implementation of SaaS applications [should] become mainstream to help future-looking organizations evolve for years to come.”
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To help organizations better handle security issues and related challenges for a remote or hybrid workforce, Workspot chief product officer Jimmy Chang offers the following advice:
Adopt a zero-trust strategy. This means that you trust no one inside or outside the organization unless they’re properly verified. The goal is to safeguard your applications and data and set up strong controls to make sure that employees and contractors can access only what they need to do their work.
Consider cloud PCs. Cloud PCs help with centralized management of the OS and security patching while removing sensitive data from endpoints. They can also enhance security for BYOD environments and other unmanaged endpoints.
Monitor everything. Prioritize real-time visibility into your network environment. Your IT staff must be able to monitor user access and proactively mitigate any threats or risks that could impact your business.