The future of work needs a strong network backbone

The future of work needs a strong network backbone
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For hybrid working to succeed, an organisation’s dedicated workforce must be able to access the same enterprise-level, in-office experience regardless of work location.

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With the welcome news of current COVID-19 measures gradually easing the past few weeks, it remains uncertain how business processes and working arrangements will change.

When the pandemic took an unfavourable turn with more infectious variants in the region, Singapore swiftly enacted stricter social distancing measures (Phase 2 Heightened Alert). Many non-essential offices were forced to close, and work-from-home is back once again as the default mode.

Over a year of dealing with the pandemic, we witnessed the accelerated and wide-scale adoption of remote working models, and how such changes have shaped employees’ expectations on workplace norms. With newly created job vacancies catered towards this new reality, two-third of Hong Kong corporate leaders are planning to redesign office spaces to accommodate hybrid working.  

In addition, with 61% of employees in APAC showing keen appetite for flexible work arrangements, the future of work is undoubtedly hybrid. But how can organisations strengthen their positioning to ensure they are geared up for this transformation and thrive in this new era?

Ensure connectivity is up to mark

One’s working location is no longer a static choice, and this has brought about wider deployment of new networking systems and working practices. While VPNs, virtual desktops and remote desktops are viable solutions, they are often susceptible to high latency which can be disruptive to real-time collaborations. Aged VPN technology also lack required licenses, updated features and adequate bandwidth to support a distributed workforce remotely and simultaneously.

For a hybrid working policy to be successful, organisations must ensure that their most valuable asset – their dedicated workforce – is able to access the same enterprise-level, in-office experience regardless of work location.

Recently, Singapore Press Holdings Ltd (SPH), modernised its wireless networks to support its 4,000-strong workforce in optimising mobility, agility and operational efficiencies. With a modernised networking infrastructure, SPH strengthens network coverage and performance to deliver a digital-first reality, ensuring that the most valuable asset – its employees – are well-supported to excel, regardless of work locations.

Pivoting to a digital-first business with flexible work conditions demands a secure and seamless network connectivity that enhances workforce productivity and efficiency.

But in securing the most seamless remote working experience, organisations are also extending their network infrastructures to support multiple remote locations. For instance, deploying high-performance Remote Access Points (RAPs) allow employees to benefit from the same service set identifiers as they would in the office, granting them consistent access to the data and applications required for work.

RAPs provide enterprise-grade tele-hardware with cloud-native management for rapid, fuss-free and scalable deployment, eliminating the need to repurpose organisations’ network equipment.

Treasure trove for hackers

Today’s distributed workforce presented new opportunities for hackers and cybercriminals to penetrate the network. Each employee’s remote access to classified data is a potential entry point for any attackers. Additionally, different behavioural hybrid workforce patterns, such as accessing organisation’s network at unpredictable hours and various locations, present a treasure throve of opportunities for hackers to mask infiltration attempts.

During the pandemic, Singapore saw a surge of cyber crimes by 50%, accounting for more than a quarter of all crimes committed while Thailand experienced a 37% increase in cyber attacks.

These malicious attacks have cost Singapore organisations a losses of around S$58 million in 2018. Suffering the same fate, the damage has costed the Thai economy 2.2% of the country’s total GDP. To prevent the expensive history from repeating itself and with new challenges of managing a hybrid work model, it is paramount for organisations to gain full visibility and control of their IoT-driven network.

While it may appear challenging for organisations to ensure that their dispersed workforce is securely connected, organisations can adopt solutions that proactively monitor, troubleshoot, and secure network performance.

New technologies, as such, enable IT personnels to do their jobs more effectively and with less complexity, as well as ensuring that any infancy infrastructure threats can be weeded out efficiently.

Remote working is no longer an alien concept. This shift towards a hybrid workplace will continue to challenge network infrastructures and redefine the risk landscape for organisations. Investing in technologies to modernise and future-proof the enterprise network is no longer a “good to have” but a “must-have” in order to thrive in the post-pandemic era.

 

Justin Chiah, Senior Director, South East Asia, Taiwan and Hong Kong (SEATH) at Aruba

 

Research sources

  1. Lund, S., Madgavkar, A., Manyika, J., & Smit, S. What's next for remote work: An analysis of 2,000 tasks, 800 jobs, and nine countries. McKinsey & Company. https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/future-of-work/whats-next-for-remote-work-an-analysis-of-2000-tasks-800-jobs-and-nine-countries.
  2. Lam , K.-sing. Two out of three Hong Kong office staff want to work from home. South China Morning Post. https://www.scmp.com/business/article/3130267/two-three-hong-kong-office-staff-want-keep-working-home-boding-ill-demand.
  3. Home and away: The new workplace hybrid. JLL Singapore. https://www.jll.com.sg/en/trends-and-insights/research/home-and-away-employee-survey.
  4. Costello, K. Ask These Questions Before Deploying Remote Access Technology Smarter With Gartner. https://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/ask-these-questions-before-deploying-remote-access-technology/.
  5. Tham, D. Cybercrime jumps more than 50% in 2019, new threats emerge from COVID-19 pandemic. CNA. https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/cybercrime-jumps-more-than-50-2019-new-threats-covid-19-csa-12872818.
  6. Cybercrime in Thailand: Current Trends and Solutions. Pacific Prime. https://www.pacificprime.co.th/blog/cybercrime-thailand-trends/.
  7. Around 6,200 cyber-attacks reported in Singapore last year: CSA. CISO MAG | Cyber Security Magazine. https://cisomag.eccouncil.org/around-6200-cyber-attacks-reported-in-singapore-last-year-csa/.
  8. Country heading for Bt286 bn hit from cyber attacks, study finds. Nation Thailand. https://www.nationthailand.com/Economy/30348046.
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