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CIOs are responsible for promoting innovations that support their remote workforce

CIOs are responsible for promoting innovations that support their remote workforce

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As the world becomes more hybrid and people adapt to working remotely, CIOs must be aware of how to mitigate the expanding threat landscape that has intensified as a result. Jonathan Bridges, Chief Innovation Officer at Exponential-e, says CIOs must explore technologies which ensure employees are not being held back at home by the likes of poor connectivity or security issues.

A year on from the first lockdown, businesses across the UK are adjusting their remote and flexible working approaches in response to established home working practices, even as social distancing restrictions begin to ease. But consolidating this hasty, short-term change in practices into a longer-term shift in policy isn’t straightforward. Businesses had to move quickly to move their workforce to a remote working environment this time last year. In their haste, corners were cut and other considerations prioritised. This presents CIOs trying to make hybrid working a successful, permanent working model for the future with a significant challenge.

Add to this the fact that businesses are now responsible for not only providing a productive working set up at the office, but also in employees’ homes, and the scale of this challenge becomes apparent. In response, CIOs must explore technologies which ensure employees are not being held back at home by the likes of poor connectivity or security issues, and that they can instead feel empowered to work productively and effectively, just as though they were in the office.  

The working from home headache

We’ve probably all been on a video call which has frozen because our partner or housemate is using a similar video conferencing platform at the same time, or seen our kids start streaming video games just as we dial into that important meeting, causing video meltdown. These frustrations can be overwhelming and make people feel like they can’t function as well when working from home.

At the start of the first lockdown, Netflix announced that it would slow transmission speeds across Europe so as to guarantee the broadband network could cope. The health of the UK’s broadband infrastructure was such a concern that prior to that, the Labour party made the nationalisation of the network a key policy in their 2019 bid, a year before more strain was put on the network. Despite this, Internet reliability has been one of the biggest causes of concern – and headaches – for workers over the past year.

If we’re going to continue with the hybrid working model, we should all agree this issue needs to be fixed, especially when you take into consideration that many applications, systems and data are now located in the cloud. Poor Internet bandwidth can hinder access to and the performance of these essential working digital tools that employees rely on every day.

Security and compliance when working from home

Working from home greatly increases the threat of cyber-attacks, making security and compliance the second biggest concern for business leaders at this stage in the game. However, due to the lack of readiness for the sudden surge in remote working with the first lockdown, the main priorities then were connectivity, operability and availability. Many IT teams skipped over normal security protocols as a result, reducing security to an afterthought.

The cyber-risks businesses and employees are vulnerable to are exacerbated by the numerous unsecured IoT devices connected to the router in every household. Many of us forget these connections even exist, due to our lack of familiarity with smart appliances. As we talk more to the Alexa and Google Home devices of this world, we need to think about the impact this device can have on corporate security.

With all of this in mind, mitigating this expanding threat landscape has never been more crucial. In fact, it should be seen as an immediate issue that all CIOs must address – not only to protect employees, but also their company and its reputation. That doesn’t mean going into employees’ homes to check what kit they are using, but shoring up your organisation’s cyber defences from the inside – whether that’s through antivirus software, or some form of firewall protection. Cyber-awareness can also go a long way to helping your employees be aware of the potential disguised cyberthreats.

Legacy tech to new tech

The technology world is constantly finding new ways to improve our day-to-day lives and it is up to CIOs to realise the potential of new innovations and not persist with existing legacy technologies when they simply can no longer keep up with today’s digital and remote environment.

Take cloud, for example. As remote working surged in 2020, so did the number of organisations implementing cloud services. Cloud management platforms (CMPs) can help IT teams use cloud resources in a way that is secure and compliant across all functions of businesses. More importantly, they make it easier for businesses to consume whichever of the three most common cloud models – public, private and hybrid cloud – suits them best. Each has its own benefits, but their true power lies in when they are used together in a multi-cloud environment. Such a tailored approach allows organisations to pick and choose the right cloud environments based on what best suits the business’ needs.

Doing so also delivers peace of mind ‘as a service’, as it addresses the challenges of handling rapid growth in volumes of data, and implements an active approach to challenges like privacy, security and compliance. Above all, CMPs allow for the true integration and optimisation of cloud, in line with an organisation’s working policies/practices.

Turning technology from a problem to a solution

CIOs are responsible for not just delivering technology, but implementing it effectively. Whether you are well established in your remote enablement strategy, or fine-tuning some of the processes, technologies are available that help tackle the independent issues each business might face. CIOs must investigate which technologies will best mitigate remote employees’ concerns and help them stay productive and secure in order to prosper in a hybrid working world.

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