The pandemic prompted rapid and profound changes to workforce policies, with the crisis stage of COVID-19 resulting in a mass movement to remote work. Now, though, as we move to a future where a hybrid model of both on-site and remote work is the default, delivering a compelling digital employee experience requires much more than simply providing basic connection capabilities. Employees want to be as productive outside of the office as they are in it, with no distinction based on location.
A recent Gallup poll found that more than 80% of workers will be working either fully or partially remotely moving forward and that employers that try to reverse that trend and encourage their workers to come back to the office will end up with lower engagement and a higher intent to leave among employees.1
However, while reluctant to give up the privilege of working remotely, workers are not willing to sacrifice their own productivity to do so. They want to be confident that they are working at their optimal level and that their employer is providing a digital platform that supports productivity and security. The Gallup findings suggest that organizations that tell their employees that the only way to assure full productivity is to work in the office won’t see their cubicles full once more; employees would rather leave and work where the technology gives them what they want.
This puts demands on the business. Cyber-risks must be mitigated and compliance must be maintained, but productivity that delivers business results can’t be impinged.
In short, the digital systems that support hybrid work must be both secure and performant. The remote work technologies that were put together on the fly in response to the pandemic simply don’t pass muster anymore. It will take a superior hybrid work platform to assure a better experience for employees and improve business results for the organization.
Secure, Performant Digital Systems Provide the Perfect Combination
One of the most common complaints from remote workers concerns poor performance. A recent Informa Tech article notes that “network performance is a top concern as employees work from random locations and with any number of devices.”2 Blaming residential broadband connections for the problem is shortsighted and inaccurate. Organizations must recognize that the WANs built over the past few decades were never intended to support hundreds or thousands of remote users connecting through multiple types of connections. Instead, they were meant to connect data centers to data centers or data centers to nodes.
One difficulty is that network visibility is often limited, so performance monitoring may not provide a view of the whole picture and delivering consistency is quite difficult. A cohesive solution for network connections is needed to keep remote workers productive. Performance monitoring must be based on intelligent management and monitoring of the entire remote digital work experience. Using intelligent assessment of the actual performance employees are seeing, analyzing why it may be substandard and understanding why problems occur is the modern approach to ensuring performance. Unlike network performance monitoring that only shows how the network is operating, this new approach, driven by user metrics, provides more information and enough detail to identify which part of the infrastructure is at issue and what should be done to remediate the problem.
Security Is Non-negotiable
A next-generation hybrid work platform must also deliver secure access and usage outside of the office. This requirement is nothing new, but the use of more software-as-a-service applications, the increasing sophistication of attacks and a wider attack surface have changed what is required from cyberdefenses. Simply using a virtual private network and user credentials doesn’t provide viable protection. At the same time, using numerous products for securing hybrid work will result in poorer security, not better, because employees will find security too complicated.
For these reasons, organizations need a comprehensive solution that supports remote and hybrid work in any scenario. The best answer is zero trust security, a “perimeter-less” approach that provides authentication, authorization and continuous validation of security posture before granting access for all apps and services. Deploying secure access using zero trust in a consistent manner enables employees to seamlessly and securely access apps from any device, at any time, from anywhere.
Citrix DaaS and Secure Private Access solutions deliver the performance and security that are necessary to deliver what both employees and organizations need. Using the latest technologies, designed with both current and future demands in mind, these services enable maximum productivity for the hybrid workforce.
1 “The Future of Hybrid Work: 5 Key Questions Answered With Data,” Gallup, March 15, 2022
2 “The Impact of Today’s Hybrid IT Environment on NetOps Pros,” Informa Tech, Sept. 20, 2021