Many organisations transitioned to remote working at the start of the coronavirus crisis. Now, some five months later, life is starting to return to normal - but businesses and staff are finding that there are many benefits to a smaller office presence. The signs are that people will not be returning to the office en masse any time soon.
But it is also clear that the pandemic and associated lockdown measures only accelerated a growing trend. Digital technology has unlocked new possibilities for productive remote working that were unthinkable at the turn of the century. Organisations that have long relied on stacking staff in skyscrapers are coming to accept that that may be a thing of the past; their finance departments certainly have.
Computing research has shown that nearly nine-tenths of IT leaders (87 percent) said that remote working at their organisations had increased significantly as a result of the pandemic; and 86 percent said that home working will remain "somewhat" or "considerably" higher once social distancing is phased out.
As people stay away from cities and transport networks, and organisations strive to lower their costs, the likelihood is that many changes in customer and employee behaviour will be with us for the long term. And that means cyber security, and IT more generally, should adapt for a long haul, too.
Strict password policies, VPNs and multi-factor authentication - generally low-cost solutions with a relatively simple rollout - are already widely adopted. Other elements are more complex to implement, like cloud-based security tools and security automation. Our research, however, shows that these will be among the most popular measures for organisations to adopt over the next 12 months. We have covered this in depth in a previous article.
CIOs need the tools to see and manage a more complex and exposed network. Our research shows a clear trend towards the cloud, automation and an increased focus on endpoint security, as IT leaders become accustomed to working in the new normal.
If employees lack the tools, policies and training to operate effectively, a breach could bring down the entire organisation's infrastructure - and recovery will not be as simple as it was when everyone was in the office.
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