How a remote workforce is shifting priorities

CIO perspective: How a remote workforce is shifting priorities
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The pandemic has accelerated the move to digital transformation, forcing IT and cybersecurity teams to evaluate how they work to ensure that organizations remain secure. In particular, challenges have included the widespread adoption of hardware packages but also guaranteeing that employees have 24/7 access to their organizations’ IT infrastructure and files that are essential to work.

When reflecting on LogMeIn’s journey during the pandemic, it’s hard to imagine that it has been six months since we transitioned nearly 4,000 employees to a complete global work from home policy for the duration of the COVID-19 situation. Of course, the majority of CIOs also had to make this decision, but as a SaaS provider of remote work solutions, I had the extra pressure of aiding our customers to do the exact same. It’s staggering to think that at the height of lockdown, the use of our remote access services increased by 300%.

The pandemic has shone a light on what organizations can do to help others, for me and my team helping our community connect with their colleagues easily and safely with the use of our products has remained at the forefront throughout and has driven us to continue improving.

From equipping employees with devices to ensuring remote access while maintaining compliance and security – there were many critical pieces to consider to keep a company’s operations running from afar. In the absence of company-issued devices, some had to quickly develop ‘zero-touch device delivery’ plans. And while collaboration tools have proven essential in keeping teams connected and foster productivity, many had to tackle quickly implementing these tools and onboarding teams. Above all, the coordination between IT, Security, HR, and Business Operations in continuity plans cannot be overstated. Seamless interaction and decision making among these teams was key to successfully executing plans.

Preparing for increased data traffic

The huge number of remote workers around the globe has created unprecedented network traffic. IT teams have had to implement real-time monitoring to manage capacity and scalability. Product and operations teams must continue to be fully functional even though they are remote from each other. Our capacity management teams focused on capacity validation in light of the increase in use of our video conferencing and remote access solutions, GoToMeeting and GoToMyPC.

While designed to scale, we have had to significantly increase server capacity, CPU allocations, memory and network capacity. We used a combination of colocation data centers and a large public-cloud infrastructure globally to ensure this flexibility for internal teams and our customers.

Benefits of a decentralized structure

Having a decentralized structure has proven to be a winning strategy. This allowed us to operate contact points for incidents at multiple locations around the world and to respond quickly to individual disruptions on our own network. As LogMeIn is cloud and SaaS-based, so our customers can be productive from anywhere and have access to essential business tools from outside the office.

Increasing overall security

With this increase in network activity, also comes increased security risks. IT and security teams are continually tracking new user behavior, while ingesting threat reporting on COVID-19 threats. A remote workforce requires IT to ensure employees have access to the resources they need, all while maintaining security throughout the business. This has required deploying remote access tools, updating single sign-on policies and increasing multi-factor authentication to ensure that all materials are secure and accessed by the right person. It has been a fine line for our customers to walk, but we are leading by example through the internal use of our products.

The creation of virtual war rooms

During other disruptions in operations, IT leadership would typically assemble a “war room” to tackle the challenges head-on. But in this crisis, where leadership and operations teams are dispersed, we have been forced to create a “virtual war room.” This has certainly changed the dynamics and created the need for new processes and approaches. Communication and the chain of command must be made clear and known by all parties. IT teams must adapt quickly, as there’s no time for second guessing.

What can be expected

It’s vital that businesses have a contingency plan in place to ensure that they are prepared for future scenarios. In today’s work environment, we can accurately see what IT equipment employees have, what new equipment had to be deployed for the new normal of working from home, how quickly systems could be set up and running and the time frame it took to go back to normal IT work. Alongside a contingency plan and the development of guidelines, IT teams must continue to focus on how current processes and systems are run and what they need to do to guarantee that they can continue working with no unexpected issues.

Due to the quick shift to remote working, it is essential that companies take care of their digital transformation. At present, they are realizing the underlying value of digital work and have identified where they might need to strengthen their digital transformation in the long term. It’s vital that organizations now not only improve their current processes but also partner with other sectors in their business including legal, finance and HR, to develop the right guidelines and ensure employees are on track with the new digital corporate philosophy.

Ian Pitt

Ian is the CIO of LogMeIn, is responsible for Cyber Security, Governance, Corporate IT, Business applications and Product Operations. He is passionate about enterprise class business solutions covering the full environment of business applications, operations and security. He conducts global transformational work leading to the adoption of SaaS for both product offerings and organizational consumption. He is a proven merger and acquisition skills on both sell and buy sides in high velocity