Business employee works on his computer from home

The Impact of Remote Work: Is it Here to Stay?

When looking at the sudden popularity of remote work, it’s easy to assume that it was a result of the coronavirus and the lockdown that followed. However, that would be ignoring the existing trend of remote work that had been growing years prior.

Is Remote Work Temporary?

Remote work was growing in popularity long before the Coronavirus pandemic struck the U.S. and forced businesses to shutter. Way back in March of 2019 research was already showing that 83 percent of U.S. businesses in the past 10 years introduced a flexible workspace or were planning to.

Another statistic that might surprise you is 16 percent of businesses hired remote workers exclusively.  When companies closed their doors in March of 2020, no one had any idea how long they would remain closed.

Some companies embraced remote work sooner than others. Companies like Facebook announced they would allow their employees to work remotely to the end of 2020. Others like Twitter stated publicly they would go remote indefinitely.

As we can see, remote work is nothing new. But it went from popular trend to basic necessity in almost no time at all.

So what is the future of remote work?

Where is this all headed?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released data that shows how different industries were impacted by COVID-19. While industries like Finance and Insurance managed to adapt pretty successfully, other industries like Tourism and Hospitality have suffered.

During the early periods of the COVID outbreak, 90 percent of employment decreases came from jobs that couldn’t be done remotely. This is according to a PEW Research Center analysis of the government’ data on labor.

It is true that barbers, waiters, tattoo artist and other contact dependent jobs were lost as a consequence, but another trend stated to arise as well.

There were other individuals—specifically individuals with college degrees—that could function remotely. Teachers, stock traders, financial advisors and accountants as we’ve seen before were able to adjust themselves to teleworking.

Nerds Support conducted its own poll asking how much the lock-down had affected their business. Of the 22 respondents that answered, 36.4 percent said they went fully remote and were considering a permanent remote option.

Nerds Support conducted a poll about the impact of remote work

Part Time vs. Full Time Remote Work

Will business owners and their employees learn to optimize their remote work capabilities? A survey by Salesforce and Tableau revealed that 69 percent of respondents agreed that the nature of work was going to change permanently due to pandemic.

A recent Gartner poll showed that 48% of employees will likely work remotely at least part of the time after COVID-19 versus 30% before the pandemic. As organizations shift to more remote work operations, explore the critical competencies employees will need to collaborate digitally, and be prepared to adjust employee experience strategies. Consider whether and how to shift performance goal-setting and employee evaluations for a remote context.

Gartner research also shows the coronavirus pandemic will have a long term impact work.

More Remote Work

A poll conducted back in June showed that 48 percent of employees are likely to work remotely at least on a part-time basis. This was an increase from 30 percent before the pandemic began.

Offshore jobs

As mentioned before, there has been many job loses but many job opportunities created from the pandemic. Since telework has increased, so has the pool of candidates employers can choose from.

Initially, employers responded to the pandemic by furloughing or firing their employees to cut costs. However, as the months have gone by, a newer trend has revealed itself.

Employers are hiring more contingent workers to improve flexibility in their workplace.

Remote work for efficiency

55 percent of organizations redesigning their operations were more focused on streamlined positions. Doing so maximized efficiency but also created vulnerabilities in resilience. That means that they operate better at the cost of losing their ability to respond to disruptions.

Remote vs. Workplace

Since we’re going by the numbers, 57 percent of workers wanted to increase their remote work in the future. This number increases to 64 percent among those who are concerned about the coronavirus health risks. Even so, 80 percent of workers indicated that they would likely continue working from home partially. Those already working remotely full-time only 1 percent say they want to return exclusively to the office.

Workers who operate remotely are less likely to lose their job

Once again, job loss was associated with those who were unable to work remotely. From the months of Feburary to March, the unemployment in the U.S. decreased by 2.9 million. Employment among jobs that could transition remotely was virtually unchanged.  The number decreased by 0.5 percent.

Industries that are becoming more relevant

 Managed IT services companies are seeing an increase in popularity as more businesses transition to cloud based networks. The transition to the cloud indicates a concern for efficiency as we’ve discussed. Telecommunication is becoming more important as businesses learn to share and cooperate from longer distances. As a result, cloud infrastructures are needed  to accommodate for this change.

Businesses need disaster recovery plan to protect from cyber security attacks.

Why Cyber Security Needs To Be Part of Business Continuity

As governments and businesses struggle with COVID-19, their digital infrastructure and data systems are targets for cybercriminals. Now more than ever, businesses need to reconsider how they view cyber attacks.

Cyber Attacks Are Not Considered Part of Disaster Recovery Plans

Cyberattacks have more in common with biological attacks than other types of attacks. What I mean by that is, it takes a while to understand when and how an attack has happened. Government agencies and business owners must develop a new way of understanding disaster recovery. In a natural disaster like a hurricane, a fire or an earthquake, restoring infrastructure could require investing in reconstruction. Recovering from a cyber attack, however, requires a more robust approach.

When a business experiences some disaster, it should work to mitigate the damage and risk to its employees and the business itself. Unfortunately, there are businesses using outdated and vulnerable computer systems and that makes them more vulnerable to a cyber attack.

When , for example, a hacker attacks a financial firm for valuable information, restoring a secure network environment could replacing devices, a digital forensics investigation, and policy changes to properly contain it.

Cyber Attacks Are Getting Worse

We know cybercriminals are targeting hospitals and even private organizations with malware. In fact, over a third, or 34 percent, of malware based cyber-attacks during the first quarter of 2020 were ransomware attacks. Government agencies were hit even harder accounting for 21 percent of all malware attacks.

Ransomware attacks succeed because cyber criminals leverage unpatched systems and vulnerabilities left unattended by all of these institutions. Due to the lockdown in March 2020, IT and security personnel aim to support remote workforces as more business closed to avoid infection. Some companies were prepared for the transition but many companies in very vulnerable industries struggled to keep up.

In late April of 2020 Ransomware attacks shut down Parkview Medical Center’s IT Network in Colorado. This attack caused numerous IT network outages while they worked to treat patients for COVID-19.

A third party forensics team investigated the cyber breach and it may take months to understand the consequences of the breach itself.

Developing A Strong Business Continuity Plan

Building a proper continuity plan requires reevaluating priorities as remote work becomes the standard for many businesses. More and more industries are relying remote operations meaning hackers are using the resulting struggle and confusion to attack systems made vulnerable from the transition.

As we’ve seen, depending on the severity of the attack, it could lead to a variety of  problems like systems failures, power outages and huge disruptions.

In the event of a cyber attack a business leader should know:

  • When the call should be made
  • what information should be provided 
  • And how to create a cooperative environment between members of the company and cyber experts investigating the breach.

Make Disaster Recovery a Practice

After this is properly explored by the company, it should be communicated to all employees and tested frequently. You should always be testing, improving and adapting your disaster recovery plan so that employees and personnel in the company are aware of their role in resolving a breach.

This will go a long way in improving company culture and staving off a cyber threat.

Incorporating protocols addressing the steps your business is required to take in the event of an attack is pivotal. All businesses know (I hope) what to do in the case of a fire or a electrical outage. Unfortunately, not many have a measured plan for how to take on cyber attacks.

When developing a strategy answer these questions:

  • Who should I contact first?
  • How I do to identify what was stolen?
  • What measures are in place to prevent an attack in the first place?

Why Cyber Criminals Attack

Obviously, those are basic questions that won’t sufficiently prepare you for an attack but the point is business owners don’t even think about them. What tends to happen is a business owner will put off developing a disaster recovery plan for cyber attacks until an attack happens. From there on it’s a scramble and fumble to fix everything at once without a strategy. If you’ve ever experienced a cyber attack you know how chaotic it can be when it’s uncovered.

Other cases it’s large companies like DoorDash. But the most often, hackers target medium and small sized businesses. The reason is simple. Smaller businesses don’t have as many resources and might have weaker systems as a result. Furthermore, hackers assume they don’t have enough capital properly investigate a breach if it happens. And best of all, the target will be small enough that an attack will fly under the radar and go unnoticed by investigators and authorities.

Cyber-security needs the same level of care companies invest in all other aspects of operations. To be successful in repelling or avoiding these types of attacks. Incorporate cybersecurity into your business framework because society as a whole is more dependent on digital networks. However, both the public and private sectors have failed to actually improve on their cyber vulnerabilities.
As a result, the number of attacks on schools, hospitals, government agencies, continue to grow and attackers will continue to reap the benefits of a weak infrastructure. Nerds Support works along side its clients to develop comprehensive business continuity and disaster recovery plans. IT support companies and MSP’s, like Nerds Support, are the best options when establishing a secure remote environment, working to strengthen your IT security or grow your business.