Even as many business leaders debate the boundaries of remote work styles and schedules, there is little doubt that hybrid work will persist for most enterprises.
Yet, how hybrid work takes shape for any given business will likely evolve as business needs and employee expectations change over time. For IT and network security teams, the challenge is to secure their environments, regardless of where people are working.
The disruptions of the pandemic has caused more businesses to explore remote and hybrid work. “COVID-19 has accelerated a trend toward a massively distributed enterprise moving network functionality to the edge of the network,” IDC analysts advise. “The WAN architecture must cater to the needs of office and remote workers with parity in terms of routing policies, security profile, and management of the WAN.”
Certainly, worker expectations have shifted dramatically. The Gallup organization studied experiences, needs, and future plans of more than 140,000 U.S. employees since the onset of the pandemic and concludes the workplace will never be the same as it was. Just 23% of surveyed workers expect to work fully on-site in 2022 and beyond, compared to a pre-pandemic number of 60%, Gallup reports. More than half expect to participate in hybrid work, while 24% expect to be fully remote.
That’s causing a rapid reevaluation of wide-area network (WAN) infrastructure and accelerating deployment of new security technology and policies, such as zero trust network access and secure access service edge (SASE).
CISOs are “revisiting the stopgap security tools and the temporary policies they enacted to quickly enable remote work to replace them with stronger permanent solutions,” declares CSO. Now those leaders are “laying out roadmaps for the future, with plans that feature investments in new technologies and processes to better secure the work-from-anywhere environment that is the norm today and moving forward.”
Shifting locations and network connections
IT leaders must strive to adapt their infrastructure and services to run as efficiently as when everyone mostly worked in the office. They must be able to provide a flexible, seamless experience that fosters collaboration and productivity within a secure framework, all while handling hundreds or thousands of locations and network connections that can often shift depending on where individual users may be located.
“CIOs are challenged with securing an ever-more cloud-reliant, distributed, data-driven, and bandwidth-consuming enterprise with largely the same resources at their disposal,” writes Bob Victor, senior vice president Customer Solutions with Comcast Business. “Addressing the security needs of this new reality comes in part through a unified networking and security approach that not only covers networking from edge to cloud and back again, but better protects an ever-growing attack surface.”
Victor asserts that the “surprising success” of work-from-anywhere has spurred new levels of digital innovation as businesses securely bring together data, applications, and users across environments that are distributed, complex, and expanding. How that will all play out remains to be seen.
Learn more about evolving security frameworks in the on-demand webinar from Comcast Business: “Beyond the Buzzwords – Networks and Security Converge”