Some things are going to change permanently due to COVID-19, and the way we work is one of the big ones. The pandemic has had such a global impact and has forced people to change their entire way of life for an extended period that, even as the disease fears ease, there are going to be some things that we continue to do in the new ways.
Take working from home, as an example. There’s already research that suggests almost half of the people who started working from home as the lockdowns hit will continue to do so, at least some of the time. Why will employees do that? Because working from home is good for the work/life balance, morale, and because many people have enjoyed the relatively distraction-free experience of a home office and a closed door.
Why will employers let their people continue to work from home? Because working from home increases productivity, and that’s good for business. When employees don’t need to commute and their timelines are a little more flexible, they tend to spend more time working. In fact, research shows that remote employees on average work 1.4 more days per month than their office-bound colleagues.
Not just where we work but how we work will change, and a big part of that will be Bring Your Own Device or BYOD considerations.
Work From Home Considerations
The typical employee who’s working from home will not be using the same equipment that’s in the office. They’ll likely be using their own laptop or PC, with their own tablet devices, and the internet will be delivered over their home connection using a modem/router that they either own or that is provided by their ISP.
Laptops can connect easily to the office cloud environment, and any smartphone can be used to take calls that have been routed over a VoIP connection for calls to an employee’s “office line,” seamlessly and without disruption.
There is, however, one key concern that organizations need to grapple with, and that’s security. Previously, organizations would run internal networks that could protect sensitive information, blocking it from access outside of the organization. A consequence of this approach was that remote workers couldn’t access the information.
To enable working from home, organizations have had to make those networks accessible remotely, via VPNs or other technology. This raises security risks when networks aren’t managed properly. For example, home modems are notorious hack risks, and VoIP – another essential technology for remote work – is also a high risk for attracting hackers.
Another challenge will be the strain on the nation’s digital infrastructure. Through the pandemic, bandwidth use has increased significantly, with ISPs reporting as much as a 25% increase in bandwidth usage.
Remote workers now use video conferencing for meetings, and those video conferencing sessions often include screen sharing and multiple participants that ramp-up bandwidth use. For example, video conferencing provider Zoom’s user base has grown from 10 million users to over 200 million.
The future of BYOD
We’re all going to be working using our own technology in the future, and our employers are likely to relax their previously set rules on IT use. The good news is that, as most of us have discovered, we’re already set up to do that – we’ve got the equipment, access, and broadband speed to work from home effectively.
Throughout the pandemic and beyond, the employers that enable their teams to work remotely will enjoy massive productivity gains over those that don’t.