By Irwin Lazar / Nemertes
Dramatic rise in working from home because of Covid-19
The global Covid-19 pandemic has led to an unprecedented shift to work-from-home. Nemertes’ recent global study of more than 460 organizations found that:
- 91% of organizations now support work-from-home (up from 63% before the pandemic)
- 72% of employees now work at home (up from 34% before the pandemic)
A least 70% likely to continue working from home post-Covid-19
In addition, 70% of participants expect to support work-from-home, even after the impact of the pandemic eases over time, as organizations see benefits in productivity, worker flexibility, carbon reduction, and the ability to reduce real-estate costs. Those returning to the office believe that in-office workers are more productive, or are facing difficulty managing remote employees and providing adequate, and secure, virtual collaboration capabilities.
What the office will look like in a post-pandemic world remains to be seen. IT leaders we’ve recently interviewed say that they expect significant long-term changes in how and where people work. It is likely that organizations will, at least for the foreseeable future, take steps to reduce the number of people in offices at any one time. That could mean flexible work programs that see individuals only work in the office certain days-per- week. Meetings may shift out of the conference room and instead entirely be conducted via desktop apps, potentially creating information security risks while adding additional procurement, licensing, and management costs to support increased remote-work. In CIOs’ minds, there is no doubt: tomorrow will neither be full-time telework nor full-time at the office. And while software experiments (shadow collaboration) have been going on with employees at home, now it’s time to call the match and tidy up these solutions, with the CIO’s department in charge.
Unfortunately, the shift to at-home has highlighted several enterprise collaboration challenges. In some cases, employees still use desktop computers that they are unable to easily bring home. In others, workers lack access to modern collaboration tools that enable workgroups to continue to communicate and collaboration.
In many cases organizations are accelerating their shift to the cloud, or are taking advantage of free and expanded cloud offers to quickly support virtual workers by leveraging applications such as team collaboration and video-based meetings. Each of these apps provides the ability for remote workers to engage more effectively, and to continue to maintain a sense of community and corporate culture, even when not physically in the same workspace, but creates new management challenges, especially when deployments are ad-hoc and rushed.
Catering for evolving needs
Those responsible for managing unified communications environments face the following needs:
- Rapidly provision UC applications, features, and phone numbers to remote users and devices including mobile phones
- Enabling self-service management of UC features and common tasks such as password resets to reduce administrative burdens on IT staff
- Distribution of administrative tasks to business units or workgroups, again to reduce demand on constrained IT resources
- Simplifying operations to minimize costs and to ensure a seamless transition to the cloud, or integration between cloud and on-premises platforms
- Effectively manage UC assets such as phone numbers and licenses
- Address security risks and minimize additional costs that result from individual and line-of-business using from non-approved applications
Meeting these needs requires a proactive strategy for UC management. One that provides UC administrators with the ability to streamline provisioning and on-going management, and that supports both continued use of on-premises platforms as well as a rapid migration to cloud. The ideal administration strategy will allow for bulk provisioning, by role, of workers as they shift location, and role-based access control (RBAC) to distribute administration to local administrators and to ensure application of proper security policies across the organization. IT leaders should look for management tools that address each of these needs in the short term. Long term, they should plan to continue to optimize management operations to reduce cost and complexity and to automate tasks as much as possible.