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Opinion | Get equipped quick to work from home

The work scenario today is testing employers’ IT infrastructure, and security policies. Photo: iStockphotoPremium
The work scenario today is testing employers’ IT infrastructure, and security policies. Photo: iStockphoto

  • Many of us are perhaps finding ourselves getting up a little late, not having to rush sending children to school before making the mad dash to office
  • The need of the hour is to equip the workforce with technology solutions for productivity and collaboration to enable seamless execution

Technology gaps need to be filled for companies to transition seamlessly to a work-from-home environment in exceptional times like these and ensure business continuity.

Many of us are perhaps finding ourselves getting up a little late, not having to rush sending children to school before making the mad dash to office. As pleasant as it sounds, millions of people across the world are having to stay at home—as more and more companies are mandating their workforce to sign in from home, and rightly so.

People are the greatest asset to any organisation and their health and safety are paramount. But then again, as Freddie Mercury once sang, “The Show Must Go On"—it is imperative for organisations to keep their wheels turning to ensure business continuity.

How can this be achieved?

Get ready to work from home: Most companies are not yet there in having the right infrastructure and tools to enable a mass remote working scenario. More than half of human resource leaders in a Gartner snap poll indicated that poor technology and/or infrastructure were the biggest barriers to effective remote working. The work scenario today is testing employers’ IT infrastructure, and security policies. The need of the hour is to equip the workforce with technology solutions for productivity and collaboration to enable seamless execution. Going beyond essential devices, companies also need to think about ways to improve productivity around flexible, remote workstyles. Their employees need to be equipped with collaborative tools to interact and work with office groups. Going beyond providing access to company data remotely via mobile phones, IT administrators need to consider a broader ecosystem of devices such as notebooks, AR/VR headsets, and other smart devices.

Secure the remote workplace: Having a large part of the workforce operating from home or remote locations presents organisations with a new set of challenges—chief of them being data security. Regardless of their size, companies spend significant resources in securing the IT infrastructure and networks in their offices. This comes with its own set of challenges though. With remote work becoming essential, it poses major threats to network security, leaving a wealth of sensitive information vulnerable to opportunistic cybercriminals, thus making security one of the key concerns for both small and large organisations.

This is especially of concern in India, which is among the top targets for malicious cyberattacks in the world. Endpoints such personal computers, printers, Wi-Fi routers and Internet of Things devices are on the frontline of the cybersecurity battleground. In addition, investing in devices that come with advanced security features like in-built LTE connectivity, webcam kill switches and BIOS security should be top priority. Further, companies should also look at counselling employees on security best practices while working remotely and mandating multi-factor authentication beyond mere passwords.

Go beyond private enterprises: As concerns around the health situation grow, the central government too has mandated work-from-home for its staff in a staggered manner, and states are likely to follow suit. While this is essential to ensure the safety of the staff, there will be a likely impact on the delivery of government services, as a large part of the government IT infrastructure is based around desktops. Hence, it is critical that governments create a better mix of notebooks and desktop computers. This will ensure government staff too is able to work seamlessly, and services to citizens are affected to the minimum degree possible.

Plan for the long term: But the situations we face today, and their management has already thrown up scenarios that we are likely to face again in the future. Risk management plans for both public and private enterprises will have to be reviewed, and infrastructure updated to provide mobility and flexibility in operations. Security protocols too need to be addressed to cater to any such situations that may arise again.

The open, borderless world that we had so grown used to has been challenged, and businesses and governments have risen to it. Going forward, it will be critical to share the learnings—between businesses, communities and governments. After all, the lessons we learn today will hopefully lead to a more agile and responsive ecosystem. It is the only way we can make sure that that the any eventuality, like the one we currently face, causes far lesser disruption to our lives, as we are seeing today.

The author is managing director, HP Inc., India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka

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