In the face of a growing pandemic, the switch to telecommuting began as a temporary solution to curb the spread of the Covid-19 virus. However, over time telecommuting has become a more viable and permanent solution for many workforces and learning communities throughout the country.
As conditions appear to fluctuate nationwide and globally, there will inevitably be a return to in-person interactions in the future. However, instead of eyeing a return to pre-pandemic work and learning structures, many industries are looking towards the future and adapting their hiring practices to grow their virtual workforce. There are many indications that businesses are planning on continuing with telework options for its workforce beyond the immediate needs presented by the pandemic. The same is true for online learning, for higher education but also K-12 schools. Due to the uncertainty as to how the fall and winter season will affect the pandemic, businesses and educational facilities need to be prepared.
The flexibility and cost savings provided by remote working have been impactful enough to businesses that many are continuing to work from home. Colleges and universities are continuing to rely on remote learning for students. For telework and telelearning solutions to remain a viable option now and in the future, there are challenges organizations must address to see success.
Providing Secure & Reliable Connections for Employees & Students
Remote working and learning are solutions for the immediate problem presented by the pandemic and the need to reduce crowded environments in school and at work. This much-needed solution has in turn resulted in its own set of issues and concerns.
Some challenges presented by remote work and learning include:
- Limited or no access to reliable internet connections for certain households, especially in rural parts of the country
- Privacy concerns and risks to data transferred over non-secure connections
- Technical problems or delays causing disruptions in day to day operations
Individuals in both the business and education virtual world must be able to not only access information but also be able to connect to others in their team or class. Stable and secure connectivity is crucial for the success of remote work or learning environment.
Keeping Users Connected
One of the critical connectivity challenges has been the number of households lacking a reliable connection to the internet, either due to a lack of devices or a lack of broadband connection available particularly in rural area’s. In a study conducted by Microsoft, it is estimated that approximately 162 million Americans lack access to a broadband internet connection. This is a significant portion of the population and a hurdle that organizations must be prepared to address quickly to ensure all workers and learners can have access to the tools needed to succeed in their roles.
Organizations must ensure that they provide their members with the tools necessary to complete the work required. This entails providing both mobile devices and internet connections when necessary. Businesses should be providing up to date devices capable of carrying out the functions needed and compatibility with the platforms being used for working and learning.
Educational institutions can distribute tablets to students lacking proper devices and businesses can provide laptops to their workforce to accomplish their work from home objectives. Devices can be an easier problem to address as has been demonstrated by many school districts with the mass distributions of devices to students throughout their communities. Providing internet access on the other hand, can be a heavier and complicated issue to resolve for organizations.
Creative Solutions for Connection Issues
Many telecommunication providers have stepped up to increase bandwidth and the availability of Wi-Fi hotspots throughout the communities they serve to boost internet availability and stronger connections for those now working and learning from home. However, some individuals are completely cut off from access to the internet or limited to only dial-up or wireless connections, which interferes with their ability to work and learn.
In some instances, public school districts such as the South Bend Community School Corporation, have discovered outside the box solutions to providing their members with reliable internet connections. Such solutions include the deployment of school buses with wireless hotspots to regions in need of internet access utilizing Cradlepoint Products. The school buses are equipped with Cradlepoint NetCloud Service for Mobile and IBR900 LTE routers and strategically located in regions of need. The buses provided internet connections not only for the students throughout South Bend but also for the residents in need of access to the internet for work purposes.
Cybersecurity Concerns Can Be a Threat to Productivity
Beyond internet access concerns, organizations must also prioritize the protection of their data and connections from cybersecurity threats that can pose a risk to their organization and its members. A recent survey found that 46% of businesses have faced a cybersecurity incident since the recent shift to a remote workforce.
Organizations must have protections in place to combat these threats, such as:
- Training their users on how to protect their home networks and devices with the correct software.
- Providing devices with security software that can be kept separate from home devices. WootCloud, an ANS partner uses HyperContext® engine to provide automated, accurate device detection, profiling and software-defined micro-segmentation.
- Deploy AI/Machine Learning to analyze network traffic to detect anomalies and potential threats to the data.
Creative & Safe Solutions with ANS to Keep Your Organization Operating
At ANS, we pride ourselves in providing professional and knowledgeable support to organizations transitioning to remote learning and working. We offer a variety of solutions and products to keep your organization running efficiently and securely. With our partnerships with Cradlepoint and WootCloud, ANS provides the correct hardware and security software to meet your needs.
As a premier integrator, ANS can deploy networks with the bandwidth to support teams working from home and multiple office locations. Our experienced team can design and implement customized solutions to keep your workforce connected throughout your facility and in conjunction with those working from home with our innovative in-building wireless capabilities and solutions.
Looking Towards the Future of Remote Work and Learning
The transition to work from home and online learning is here to stay for the time being. What started as an urgent response to an immediate need in the face of a pandemic has now transformed into a new way of working and learning that will exist well into the future.