The New IT Challenge: A Hybrid Workforce as Employees Return to the Office

Brady O. Bruce, VP of Marketing at WiteSand

While some offices are looking to return to an on-site workforce, others are abandoning their physical locations entirely. But after working from home for more than a year, it’s logical to assume employees will need to ease back into an office environment or be given the option to work remotely on a more regular basis. Staggering workspaces and days in the office to encourage continued social distancing are also being considered – all of which leave the door open for networking challenges and compromised security. Here are some of the issues IT teams are facing.

Shared Networks

Since March of last year, employees have been on an isolated network at home. But now as return-to-work policies are being put into place, they will once again plug into a shared network consisting of the same virtual local area networks, posing problems for zero-day infection to spread laterally. Until the vulnerability is mitigated, hackers can exploit it to adversely affect programs, data, additional computers, or a whole network.

Along the same lines, to minimize threats when relocating back to the office, IT staff will have to follow a “zero-trust” model by first ensuring software is up to date, endpoint detection and response is updated, and unregistered software is identified and inventoried.

CapEx vs. OpEx

In the past, companies may have used capital expenditures to buy, maintain, or improve all networking and security systems on site, but now those technologies and funds supporting them are becoming fungible as employees shift from home to campus and back again. The new environment provides an opportunity for many companies to consider switching from a CapEx to OpEx model.

Security Policies

The transition between home and office must be seamless with the same set of security policies in place no matter where an employee happens to be located. Even after cracks in systems have been identified, unauthorized elevation of permissions or privileges and large or continuous uploads of data out of your network are both red flags that can continue to compromise the system. Network and endpoint security solutions are strong baseline defenses against hacking attempts, as well as continued maintenance and monitoring, along with employee training.

Ensuring the Optimal Employee Experience

“My video conferencing is choppy.” “I’m not able to connect to the corporate apps.” “I can’t authenticate to the corp network.” Sound familiar?

A fully remote workforce has presented endless challenges, and there’s no simple tool for a network administrator to diagnose the problem, whether it’s a bad internet connection, latency, or insufficient bandwidth.

Traffic Patterns Are Not Tied to Campus Anymore

One key learning through the COVID pandemic was the effectiveness of employees working from home, enabled with cloud-based services like Office 365, Google Workspace, and Slack. Employee traffic is no longer tied to a campus, but rather wherever they choose to work. These shifted traffic patterns will cause enterprise IT Teams to rethink the optimal ways of running their network.

Bottom Line

Are current solutions in the market today sufficient to fully solve the problem at hand? Or are they missing key elements? Are your networking and security teams struggling to keep up with the challenges of a hybrid workforce?

If you also have similar questions in mind, please register for our launch to learn how we are defining the future of enterprise networking and security at WiteSand.

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