More than two-thirds of firms would invest in dedicated remote working connectivity

Firms are faced with supporting more remote working for their businesses going forward, and a survey has shed light on what form this support will take and what firms believe they will need in the ‘new normal’

As the majority of organisations expect up to half of their employees to keep working from home over the next year, a connectivity imperative is emerging to support distributed workforces in the “new normal” with bespoke network resources, says research from Daisy Corporate Services (DCS).

The provider of IT, communications and cloud services surveyed 350 UK organisations across the private and public sectors. The study was carried out by Larato, which surveyed senior employees, including CEOs, CFOs, CIO/CTOs, heads of IT, IT managers and COOs at UK mid-market businesses during November and December 2020.

The survey revealed that the vast majority (85%) of firms expect up to half of their employees to continue working from home over the next year. As a result, almost a quarter said they were looking to downsize their office space to cope with the new hybrid working environment. However, almost all respondents (97%) said that working environments for home workers needed to be adapted if home and remote working is to be effective in the long term.

The research also found that with shared broadband connections (40%), remote-working cyber security risks (40%) and connectivity performance (39%) emerging as the biggest techn challenges that IT departments have faced during lockdown, just over two-thirds (68%) of organisations would provide their home workers with a dedicated, managed connection to their corporate network to maintain productivity.

IT budgets were found to be set to continue to vary from organisation to organisation, with 38% saying their budget will increase this year, while 30% said they face a decrease. However, DCS said it was clear that the business demands on IT will continue to grow, so, perhaps unsurprisingly, 70% of organisations expected their IT support needs to increase over the next year.

Also not surprisingly, the study found that collaboration tools were being widely used, but not always effectively. During lockdown, Microsoft Teams (94%) and Zoom (78%) were the most adopted collaboration technologies, but a quarter (25%) of organisations admitted facing challenges in making effective use of these technologies.

This will undoubtedly be a big area of focus over the next 12 months, as the organisations surveyed want technology to support home working (22%) and for it to improve productivity and efficiency (21%).

The study also revealed that cyber security will remain a big focus for organisations as home working increasingly becomes the norm. Almost half (46%) of respondents said cyber security risk management of remote workers was an essential part of their ongoing home working strategies.

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Looking at areas of future cyber security investments over the next 12 months, the key areas of focus were protection against data theft (60%), recovery from a cyber breach (47%), virtual private network (48%) and penetration testing (41%).

Assessing the survey, DCS said the last 12 months have illustrated just how important IT has been to supporting “business as usual” operations and the need for robust cyber security practices. Going forward, it suggested that the next stage for many organisations is to ensure employees are making effective use of the technologies they are being provided with, both from a security and productivity perspective.

Organisations that were able to do this effectively would be the home working winners, said DCS product director Richard Beeston. “It is clear that organisations will need to continue to support home working long into the future,” he said. “While many organisations were able to navigate the short-term technology challenges posed by the rapid increase in home working, further transformation is required for it to be effective in the long term.

“To date, many home workers have simply ‘got by’ using their existing internet connectivity, but this does pose both ongoing performance and cyber security challenges for many organisations. As home working models mature, we would expect to see increased investments in connectivity and security as remote access to systems, applications and data becomes the norm.”

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