E-Handbook: Maintaining network infrastructure in a pandemic and beyond Article 1 of 4

Build a strong network to support remote workers

The novel coronavirus, which causes the disease known as COVID-19, has rocked the workforce, driving most companies to implement a work from home policy. As workers join video conferences and access corporate resources remotely, they're likely unaware of the network infrastructure that supports those actions -- until something doesn't work.

Behind the scenes, network teams are maintaining network infrastructure to ensure it provides a reliable foundation that enables employee productivity and business continuity. This means having a network that can handle spikes in VPN usage, meet latency requirements for collaboration tools and protect against security threats.

Remote workers need to access business resources and applications, which requires VPN connectivity and proper authentication. Teams should assess their existing VPN policies, checking that the number of available licenses matches the number of potential users. Some companies might already have adequate policies in place, while others will need to consider alternatives.

Remote employees must also be able to communicate with each other. Unified communications tools for voice, video conferencing and chat help employees track projects and create a semblance of business as usual. While these tools are beneficial, the real-time traffic they generate puts a notable strain on the network. Teams must gauge bandwidth estimates, quality of service and traffic volume to better understand how the network can support these applications and limit jitter and latency.

While the drastic work from home measures taken for COVID-19 will -- hopefully -- last only a few months, enterprises will likely see permanent changes in how employees approach remote work. As such, network teams should plan a long-term strategy for maintaining network infrastructure that supports remote workers in the future.