Steve Law, CTO, Giacom

The future workplace – making it seamless and secure

Giacom’s, CTO, Steve Law explains how the channel can support organisations when making the transition to the future hybrid workplace in a seamless and secure way.

After many months of changing lockdown rules where companies have had to implement remote and hybrid working policies accordingly, businesses are starting to look to the future beyond COVID-19 when workforces can return. What will the future workplace look like?

Since lockdown changes, according to new research, businesses have found that their employees prefer a mixture of remote and office-based working, with over three-quarters of staff wanting a hybrid approach long term. Proving that they can work just as successfully and productively from home, it is now the employer’s job to adapt their business model to support both remote and office-based working.

An Evolving Landscape
The pace of change businesses in all industries have had to undergo over 2020 so far has highlighted the importance of being agile during challenging times. COVID-19 has accelerated the need for digital transformation, as without the right technology in place, organisations will either sink or swim.

The role of the channel has been to continuously support its customers through the journey of adapting to remote working and digitally transforming in order to stay ahead. By educating customers on the importance of security, as well as the available technologies and strategies that can support their transition, they will have the right support system in place to maintain business as usual – or even unlock additional productivity – during unprecedented times.

The amount of change we’re experiencing as a nation is far from over, which means that business can’t hold still. Organisations are trying to be agile to survive, but there is always room for improvement. Quickly and easily responding to change needs to become a core competence natively for all businesses to be able to adapt, as it’s clear that this is not a problem that’s going to go away – and the likelihood of more uncertainty heading our way is high. By working with a reliable partner, companies will have the right tools in place in order for them to succeed through the pandemic and into the future.

Leveraging Existing Technologies to Collaborate
Technology plays a key role in the smooth transition to a ‘new normal,’ keeping virtual teams engaged while enabling seamless and secure communication within a dispersed workforce. Digital solutions must be able to support both employees who choose to work from home, as well as those who have returned to the office.

The channel’s role in enabling seamless collaboration and communication is vital in order to combat any further disruption and keep businesses functioning. MSP’s must rethink how they can best support their customers, while embracing new and innovative ways of working to fulfil their demands and expectations. Vendors who offer a range of products to fit diverse needs and the tools to deliver outstanding customer service won’t only help businesses right now, but will help unlock long term productivity, security and collaboration.

The pandemic has significantly accelerated the adoption and usage of cloud solutions to support remote working. Many businesses already had these tools in place, but just weren’t using them effectively across their workforce. For example, many companies have Microsoft 365 deployed, which includes Microsoft Teams. These organisations have had access to such video conferencing tools, but had not needed to use it effectively until COVID-19. Since March 2020 Microsoft Teams has experienced a mass surge of users, jumping by 70% to 75 million daily active users.

Additionally, COVID-19 has acted as a catalyst for the interest in virtual desktop solution such as Microsoft Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD), which provides each member of the workforce with the same IT environment, regardless of the device including Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) they’re using and whether they are remote or office-based. The desktop effectively becomes cloud-hosted, providing a more secure electronic perimeter which replicates that of the physical office, making it easier to manage one central location.

The Importance of Security
When implementing a hybrid approach, security becomes a complex issue, as the risk landscape has changed. In the office, it’s easier to manage and control security within a physical perimeter and managed environment. As soon as you have a scattered workforce, this perimeter disappears, and now organisations have to put in place additional digital protocols to mitigate any cyber risks. Having a good quality MSP partner that understands the importance of security, and thinks about it in a proactive way is key for end customers.

Using technologies such as a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to provide secure access from home into remote business systems enables users to securely access systems that the business wants them to gain entry to, but more importantly, making sure that outsiders can’t.

However, fundamentally, the biggest weakness in an organisation’s security infrastructure is the human user. Cybercriminals are always upgrading their tactics, often more quickly than businesses can train their staff. In order to keep up to date, businesses must take a more proactive approach and utilise cybersecurity resources, such as security training and threat detection tools. Solutions such as VADE and USecure helps to educate and alert the user on any potential risks, providing in-time coaching and training so that cybersecurity remains at the forefront of their thinking.

The Future Workplace
Without education and support from the channel, businesses will struggle to keep pace with the amount of change and understand what tools they need to survive and thrive. Reliable partners are needed now more than ever to support companies with workforces working from home and also in the office.

Offices will become places that people visit less frequently, perhaps only to collaborate and to host necessary meetings. Successfully implementing a hybrid approach is still a work in progress for many, and collectively, the channel will begin to find better ways of working and implementing this strategy. Of course, existing and new technologies will continue to play a key role in this transition as we undergo the next digital transformation.

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