When the Coronavirus pandemic of 2020 sparked a nationwide shift toward remote work, many assumed physical offices would return eventually. Today, the business world realizes that there is no going back to the collaboration methods of the past. Which leaves enterprise leaders wondering: What does the workplace of the future look like?
Experts from CBTS recently hosted a webcast with the goal of shedding light on the future of remote work. Head of Business Development Jon Lloyd and Global Solutions Architect Justin Rice shared their thoughts and fielded audience queries. The conversation was centered around answering the burning question: What does the workplace of the future look like? For Lloyd and Rice, this issue boils down to three primary concepts.
The key to building toward the future of remote work is delivering reliability and ease of use to employees, Lloyd explains. Regardless of whether they’re in the office or working from home, employees expect their networks to function without difficulty. Members of a distributed workforce expect three things: no delays, no downtime, and “always-on” connectivity.
“Employees want the ability to work from anywhere,” Lloyd said. “The importance of the end-user experience is critical. That has to be (priority) number one.”
Lloyd urges enterprise leaders to think of remote work not as closing one centralized office but as opening hundreds of smaller offices. This means that each employee should enjoy the same performance at home as they would at company headquarters. One effective way to achieve this remote performance is to decentralize proprietary applications and shift away from physical data centers. That’s where the cloud shines.
“The first big winner in this new shift of work-from-home is cloud adoption,” Lloyd said. “There’s just no way for you to financially take an application and distribute it across the globe without utilizing a cloud provider.”
As organizations ask themselves, “what does the workplace of the future look like?” cloud-native network architecture is rapidly emerging as the answer.
Also read: How SD-WAN & NaaS come together to supercharge remote work productivity
Rice adds that prior to the pandemic, high costs discouraged many enterprises away from cloud adoption. As public health concerns pushed this technology to the forefront, many businesses leaped before they looked. This had the unfortunate result of distributed workforces utilizing applications that weren’t properly built for the cloud. That’s why cloud-native applications play a significant role in the future of remote work.
Cloud-native applications not only boast greater reliability but also tend to be more cost-effective. According to Rice, one network component that benefits heavily from decentralization is security. This is especially the case for enterprises struggling to secure the connections used by their distributed workforces.
That’s where Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) comes in. SASE works by implementing zero-trust network access at every endpoint. This means remote workers can safely utilize the applications they need without having to connect to centralized data centers.
When implemented and supported by an expert provider, SASE also has the benefit of superior visibility. With a single dashboard allowing access to your entire SASE framework, your enterprise can greatly simplify its cloud transition process.
These topics add up to one common goal: empowering remote workers to do their jobs from anywhere while maintaining high standards of network security and performance.
Also read: A Q&A on Microsoft Teams in the Big Picture
However enterprises decide to enable their distributed workforces, Lloyd and Rice were confident that remote work is here to stay. Whereas remote work was seen as optional pre-2020, the pandemic has made it mandatory and part of the “new normal.” As a result, enterprises are investing in giving their remote employees the highest-quality connections possible.
Flexibility is also becoming a key factor in the future of remote work, Lloyd and Rice added as they fielded audience questions.
“It’s not ‘work from home,’ it’s ‘work from anywhere,’ and it’s thousands of new offices on your network,” Lloyd said. “And I think—in the past—we treated work from home as ‘it doesn’t have to be as good’ or ‘it isn’t permanent.’”
“There’s certainly been a cultural shift,” Rice added. “Working from home, especially if you had a corporate office, it kind of felt like you’re on an island. Now, working from anywhere has become the new normal.”
Webcast attendees submitted questions on subjects ranging from outsourcing to how recruiters can make in-person office environments appealing again. Lloyd and Rice suggest that since the expectations of modern employees have changed, companies will need to adapt accordingly.
“It’s about making the office interesting and accepting that you’re going to have employees who just don’t want to come in,” Rice said. “What we’re seeing is more co-working spaces. It’s not coming back to a cubicle; it’s more of an open, collaborative environment.”
“We’re redefining what a workplace is. From a recruiting standpoint, for companies that are going to require (in-office attendance), they’re going to have to pay for it,” Lloyd added. “If you’re going to require folks to come in, you’re going to have a responsibility to keep them safe, which is going to increase costs, and you’re probably going to have to offer more than you typically would for that position.”
Also read: Give your remote teams the tools to connect seamlessly with Cisco Webex