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Report: Transition to Remote Work Has Long-Term Impact

In a recent survey, 70 percent of global IT leaders reported that more than half of their companies' employees are working remotely due to the pandemic. That's roughly triple the share of staffers working remotely before the COVID-19 shutdown. The survey, conducted by network services company Infoblox and research firm Zogby Analytics, polled 1,077 IT decision-makers in nine countries, across a variety of industries (including education), about the IT challenges they've faced in pandemic times.   

The survey report pointed to the COVID crisis as a catalyst forcing companies to adopt the "borderless enterprise" model — characterized by "high levels of remote work, high adoption of cloud-based services and applications, and a large number of dispersed IoT, mobile and other devices." What's more, 40 percent of respondents said their companies will keep a majority of workers remote permanently — suggesting that "the borderless enterprise is here to stay," the report asserted. And the vast majority — 90 percent — said that digital transformation and cloud-managed services are a priority.

Some of the top IT challenges during the transition to remote work include distributing approved devices (cited by 35 percent of respondents), building network infrastructure (35 percent) and securing the network (29 percent). In particular, IT leaders are concerned about threat mitigation and network visibility: Sixty-eight percent of respondents said better threat detection and/or mitigation technologies would enable more remote work for their organizations. Respondents said they needed better visibility into devices on the corporate network (cited by 65 percent), cloud applications workers are using (61 percent) and compromised devices (46 percent).

At the same time, companies appear torn between the competing priorities of bolstering cybersecurity and enabling remote work. Overall, 46 percent of survey respondents said their organizations have shifted IT resources toward cybersecurity and protecting their network, while 38 percent have moved resources away from cybersecurity and focused more on setting up remote workers. On the security side, respondents' most common investments made to protect networks and employees during remote work include the addition of secure DNS and endpoint security, AI to detect anomalous behavior, multi-factor authentication, DDI for network and device visibility, and security as a service offerings. At the same time, to help foster collaboration, a growing number of companies are allowing workers to use personal applications, such as Skype, WhatsApp, Zoom and Houseparty, on work devices — 63 percent reported doing so, compared to 42 percent whose policies permitted such apps before the pandemic.

"When the COVID-19 shutdown started, organizations rushed to enable remote work overnight. Their top priority was making sure workers could connect to enterprise applications from their homes — sometimes through unsecured personal devices," said Kanaiya Vasani, executive vice president of Products and Corporate Development at Infoblox, in a statement. "While most organizations can now accommodate the basics of remote work, this report highlights the need for more security controls."

The full report is available on the Infoblox site (registration required).

About the Author

Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology, THE Journal, and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].

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