According to a recent Gartner Survey of 317 corporate CFOs, remote work and telecommuting will become more permanent and widespread after Covid-19. Among the CFOs surveyed, 74% expect to move previously onsite employees to remote work post-Covid-19, in a bid to cut commercial real estate costs and on-premises IT spending. Nearly a quarter of respondents said they plan to move at least 20% of their on-site employees to remote work on a permanent basis, while 32% have either already decided to cut on-premises IT spending, or are seriously considering it.  The real question for these CFOs and their CIO colleagues is whether their companies can make these shifts without sacrificing employee productivity and corporate data security. In addition, can they avoid getting hit with other costs they might not be anticipating?

So far, results have been mixed. A recent Bloomberg Technology article entitled, “Are You Thankful for Your Corporate IT Person Now?“ reports that Qualcomm’s IT staff worked 72 hours straight trying to prepare laptops for secure, remote access and get other systems ready in preparation for the shutdown. Some organizations mentioned in the article found themselves in urgent need of more network capacity to handle all the new external traffic, while their IT support teams were flooded with calls from employees who’d forgotten remote access passwords, and were struggling with other issues.

A New York Times article entitled, ”The Virus Changed the Way We Internet“ stated that due to Covid-19, “America’s offices and schools have all moved into our basements and living rooms. Nothing is having a more profound impact on online activity than this change.” School assignments are being handed out on Google Classroom. Company meetings are happening on Zoom, Google Hangouts and Microsoft Teams, while security and privacy concerns are escalating. Zoom-bombing and Zoom user data leaks are becoming big issues.  Microsoft is running ads for Teams to take advantage of Zoom’s recent bad press, but is it really any better?  As ISPs struggle to cope with a massive new wave of home Wi-Fi network traffic, online complaints about service quality, along with shaky video conference calls and slow downloads are skyrocketing.

Businesses and educational institutions can upgrade their internal networks to accommodate more external users, and many already have.  However, they don’t control their employees’ and students’ home Wi-Fi networks, or the ISPs they use. They could subsidize increased bandwidth at their homes, but bandwidth isn’t the only factor affecting network performance. Today’s streaming fast data, web, voice, and video applications that send traffic in unpredictable bursts, the virtualized public and private cloud environments that host them, and the sometimes volatile last mile wireless networks used to access them combine to create latency and jitter that can have a far greater impact on network performance than bandwidth. None of these issues are new. Increased remote work is just magnifying them because access is happening outside the control of the corporate network, where centralized quality of service policies can prioritize traffic for some applications to blunt their impact.

Given all these factors, how can companies permanently shift a large percentage of their staff to remote work without risking data security, and sacrificing productivity with poor network performance?  Moreover, is it possible to find a solution that dramatically improves both network performance and data security beyond the levels that existed pre-Covid-19? What’s needed is a solution that combines optimization designed for today’s network and application environments – which presented performance challenges long before Covid-19 came on the scene – with the very latest VPN security and privacy capabilities.  That solution is Roaming VPN for Enterprise.