In March, for companies across the United States, “business as usual” became business uncharted, as the novel coronavirus spread throughout the nation at an unchecked pace.

Faced with shelter-in-place orders in their home counties and states, countless companies transitioned to entirely remote workforces. Predictably, these near-immediate transitions carried with them some setbacks.

A remote workforce can become a workforce stretched thin: Communication must adapt to online models of email, chat messaging, and video conferencing; collaboration must move to cloud-based storage platforms; and keeping business afloat must take into account the unique cybersecurity needs of now-remote workers who are connecting to potentially unsecured home networks while accessing company resources from personal devices—all without the direct support found within the office.

How prepared were companies transitioning to WFH?

XCOVID-19 caught every company, large or small, off-guard. Organizations’ security budgets may have increased year-over-year and their defensive measures may have become more proactive—but few survey participants could admit they were fully prepared for an immediate transition to work-from-home en masse.

Less than 16 percent of survey participants gave their organization a perfect score on WFH readiness. Still, a significant percentage of respondents expressed high levels of confidence in how prepared their company was for the move to remote work.

To understand the volume of work IT teams would need to tackle in the transition to WFH, we asked survey participants to tell us the percentage of employees that were moved to a WFH model. About onethird of respondents (33.2 percent) moved 81–100 percent—if not all—of their employees home. And 142 respondents, or a little more than 70 percent, moved 61 percent or more of their workforce to a WFH model.

How prepared were companies transitioning to WFH

Which WFH challenges were respondents most worried about?

The shift from working in the office to working from home did not erase cybersecurity problems that were already there, pre-COVID. If anything, organizations were presented with new, compounding challenges that had to be addressed without delay.

Companies that were able to successfully transition to WFH did not do so free from problems:
More than half of IT leaders surveyed reported facing at least three of the challenges listed
in our questionnaire.

The challenge cited most by respondents was training employees on how to be security compliant at home (55.4 percent), followed by setting up work or personal devices with necessary software (53.5 percent). Fifty-one percent of participants felt shifting to a new, remote model of communication was a challenge as well. The challenge selected by the fewest respondents was ensuring work/life balance at 36.6 percent.

Productivity

Many companies have learned that it is cheaper to have some or all of their people work from home. But how did it impact productivity? Looking at the survey results, having a fully remote workforce did not appear to have negatively impacted employee productivity. While a select few (2.5 percent) of the respondents indicated they suffered with significantly lower productivity, a lot more (19.8 percent) answered with a significant improvement in productivity. The rest only noticed slight or no difference at all.

The difference between productivity seems to be related to industry and team structure. In some fields, teams that were no longer in the same room were at a disadvantage. However, many companies gathered enough practical information about their people and teams to enable them to work from home for extended periods of time—even if/ when the pandemic subsides.

Faced with shelter-in-place orders in their home counties and states, countless companies transitioned to entirely remote workforces.

Predictably, these near-immediate transitions carried with them some setbacks.

A remote workforce can become a workforce stretched thin: Communication must adapt to online models of email, chat messaging, and video conferencing; collaboration must move to cloud-based storage platforms; and keeping business afloat must take into account the unique cybersecurity needs of now-remote workers who are connecting to potentially unsecured home networks while accessing company resources from personal devices—all without the direct support found within the office.

To read full download the whitepaper:
Enduring from Home: COVID-19’s impact on business security

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