This year, organizations found an unprecedented amount of their workforces suddenly working remotely. No longer under the same roof—and network—as their colleagues, IT teams were tasked with making crucial adjustments to how they secure their workforce. With little preparation or planning, IT leaders became responsible for an influx of corporate devices across numerous locations and different networks.
In 2021, businesses will continue to allow employees to work from home. How can IT ensure they are able to effectively support their organizations in a long-term remote work environment?
Throughout the remote work revolution, we pulled together some helpful tips to guide IT through some of the challenges of supporting an almost entirely remote workforce. While these tips were written in the early stages of the pandemic, they are worth revisiting as your team looks towards rebuilding and planning in 2021:
Keep the User Top of Mind
It is unlikely most of your employees were prepared to work from home full–time back in March. Throughout the past ten months, your employees have had to alter their physical home environment to accommodate a workspace.
Some might be missing day-to-day human interaction. Others are probably tired of navigating technical difficulties without an IT admin right down the hall. While it’s unclear when consistently working in an office will be a reality again, one thing is certain: your IT team should be helping new and existing employees feel empowered in their long-term remote work environment.
For new hires and existing employees, there are plenty of onboarding and technical considerations you should be thinking about:
• Are new hires using a corporate desktop or their own personal computer?
• Do employees of every level have a stable internet connection?
• Can the corporate VPN handle the additional capacity to support a large remote userbase?
• Does your organization’s helpdesk have the capacity for increased ticket volume?
Having solutions in place to tackle these technical issues will not only help employees feel supported from an IT perspective, but can help prevent potential security threats in the user’s remote work environment – which could ultimately throw a wrench in your business continuity plans.
Choose the Technology That Works Best for You
When the majority of the workforce went remote, one common question we heard was people asking whether VDI or VPN was a better solution. The answer is not as clear as you may think.
To determine which option is best for your organization, your IT team must define and rank its top priorities. What will be the fastest, easiest or cheapest for you to deploy for your specific situation? How important are these factors to you? What will provide the best user experience and work for the most users? And what provides the security model that’s appropriate for your organization?
In the short term, it is wise to do whatever the company was most familiar with, to get employees safely working remotely as soon as possible. But it 2021, organizations may be revisiting this question. Yes, some employees will be coming back into offices, but overall, most organizations will continue to be much more distributed than before 2020.
As companies optimize their approach to remote work, many will look again at their VDI and VPN strategies and consider some of the pros and cons we wrote about in March. But in addition, they will also take time to consider other initiatives, such as Zero Trust security and Windows 10 management from the cloud.
Be Proactive With Intrinsic Zero Trust Security
Business have had to make adjustments in order to ensure the safety of their employees and the smooth operation of their business. Securing the enterprise is a lot easier when all its endpoints (laptops, mobile devices, etc.), applications and users are within the network perimeter. This model was starting to break down long before this year, but of course the effects of 2020 accelerated this trend like never before.
To secure the enterprise beyond the perimeter, IT leaders should adopt a Zero Trust security model. Unlike the traditional security model, Zero Trust does not implicitly trust any device, user or app. Instead, it continuously verifies trust across all three before granting access to data.
This security model offers greater flexibility and choice to employees to work from anywhere and from any device while ensuring optimal security at all times. And while most organizations agree that Zero Trust is the right approach to address the security needs in a dynamic environment, many haven’t taken a holistic approach to deploying it.
This could coincidentally leave holes in your organization’s security posture, leaving cybercriminals with a valuable opportunity to exploit. In order to proactively secure your reputation and company, employee and customer data, intrinsic security cannot be an after-thought.
Invest in a solution that helps you prevent, detect and remediate as quickly as possible for business continuity and productivity.
While these tips have proven useful for employers navigating how to best secure their remote workforce, it’s important to remember that the journey to intrinsic security is just that – a journey.
As we enter 2021, new techniques will likely emerge as businesses evolve with the world around them. Your IT teams are no different. They must continue working towards solutions that will both empower and protect their staff.
For more information on how to manifest Zero Trust intrinsic security in your organization, stay tuned on the VMware EUC blog.