4 Ways to Prepare Technology Systems for Hybrid Work

The rise of anytime, anywhere data access has changed how and where we conduct business, which means the workday is getting a major upgrade. Working exclusively from an office is no longer mandatory for many businesses, and a blend between in-person and remote work is now the reality. In fact, it’s estimated that by 2025, 70% of employees will be working remotely at least five days per month[1].

To keep up with business demands (and ensure productivity and security) in this new way of working, companies can’t assume the services they use now are the right ones going forward. Savvy leaders are setting up their employees–and their bottom lines–for success by implementing new systems designed for the future of work. Here are four actions many are taking now that can deliver big results–today and tomorrow.

Adopt a SASE approach for efficient security
Working from different locations outside of an office setting has created new security challenges for businesses in the era of remote work. Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) provides efficient and secure access to company data no matter where employees are working. SASE is a cybersecurity concept that incorporates wide area networks (WANs) and network security services into a single cloud-based service. Companies that had started moving to a SASE model when the pandemic hit were better equipped to deal with suddenly having a largely remote workforce.

A SASE model has many benefits, including:

Increased Performance: Employees can easily connect to resources. Apps, the Internet and company data can be accessed globally.
Easy to Use: SASE is managed from one central, cloud-based management application, so the entire service can be controlled from a single point.
More Security: A SASE model includes full content inspection already integrated, providing more visibility into the network for a more secure solution that prevents unauthorized access to systems.
Cost Effective: Since SASE is a single platform, it can save companies money by avoiding the need to purchase multiple products.
Not only is a SASE model a more secure network configuration, but it can also save businesses time and money in the long run.

Convert to the cloud for increased flexibility
If the pandemic has taught business leaders anything, it’s the importance of flexibility. COVID-19 set off a rapid transition to working from home, and many companies’ virtual private networks (VPNs) were overwhelmed as employees tried to access files remotely. On-site data centers, once the go-to solution for housing companies’ networks, are expensive and inconvenient to maintain or expand, making them inefficient solutions for a hybrid workforce.

Converting networks to the cloud allows companies to scale their networks at a moment’s notice, adapting to business growth or increased demand. The cloud is also more secure than on-site data centers because providers ensure key measures like PCI compliance and ISO standards are built in, delivering a more resilient environment for storing data. Because cloud providers specialize in data compliance, they can meet data security needs for specific industries and businesses–taking on the risk that typically falls on the company.

Cloud-based solutions exist to not only ensure businesses are prepared to handle a sudden shift to remote work but also to make sure they have the security and flexibility needed to efficiently conduct business in the long term.

Invest in fiber for faster business
Similar to how race cars run better on high octane fuel, a cloud-based service will perform better with the right type of Internet service. Fiber-optic networks are the new gold standard for powering Internet, phone and TV services. They use small glass fibers to transmit data using pulses of light, allowing them to carry large amounts of data more quickly than the speeds of copper and coax cables.

Fiber-optic networks allow for more bandwidth and the potential for a symmetrical connection, meaning they deliver equally fast upload and download times, even during periods of high demand. Employees will experience better quality for Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calls and video conferencing. And the benefits of fiber extend beyond faster load times.

Fiber cables are also more durable and resistant to fire, electromagnetic interference, lightning and radio signals. Their dependability makes fiber-optic networks ideal for hybrid work environments. Fiber-optic networks are also more secure for remote work, plus an Internet outage that impacts productivity is less likely to occur.

Find a strong regional connection
The advantages of fiber won’t mean anything if the network supporting it isn’t solid. Backhaul refers to the connection point between a business and where its employees access the Internet, and it can make the difference between sluggish Internet and fast, reliable service. A regionally built network shortens the path to get onto the main Internet backbone, so connections aren’t being inefficiently routed across the country. It’s important to understand an Internet provider’s path—the closer to the backbone, the faster and more reliable the Internet connection will be.

By upgrading and optimizing current technology infrastructures, businesses can maintain the seamless connectivity required to keep up with new ways of working. Even better, they’ll experience reliable service that limits costly interruptions, making employees productive and secure no matter where they choose to work.

David Koch is the director of technology assessment at TDS, a technology company delivering high-speed Internet, TV entertainment, and phone services to nearly 46,000 rural, suburban, and metropolitan businesses across the U.S. For more hybrid work solutions, visit: https://www.forbes.com/sites/carolinecastrillon/2021/12/27/this-is-the-future-of-remote-work-in-2021/?sh=25c1c5e81e1d

Contact: Cheryl McCollum, TDS Telecom, 608-658-8158, cheryl.mccollum@tdstelecom.com

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