As the world moves on from remote-work stopgap measures, businesses are finding a long-term solution: hybrid work. Successful hybrid work can help companies increase productivity, customer satisfaction and employee morale. This physical-virtual model retains the flexibility of remote work while also reclaiming the advantages that come from in-office collaboration. But this may be easier said than done, particularly for SMBs. At the heart of the challenges they face are three key issues: cloud-based cybersecurity, mobile working, and office design.
Let’s take a look at each.
This is the most serious challenge as individuals outside the controlled environment of a workplace are more vulnerable targets.
Giving remote users the same corporate software used in the office is exorbitantly inefficient, and free firewalls are inadequate. Rather, SMBs need to sit down and identify each feature they need, be it secure WiFi connectivity, web content and application control, or advanced AI-powered Collaborative Detection & Response.
In doing so, we advise using a comprehensive security appliances that can support both on-site and remote staff easily. Keep in mind, however, that with cyberattacks growing more sophisticated by the day, supplemental protection from cloud-based AI intelligence will serve as a futureproof investment and deliver greater piece of mind.
In addition, here are a few best practices for securing a distributed network infrastructure:
- Reduce the attack surface: Properly configure your firewall based on the least privilege principle.
- Use two-factor authentication: This provides an extra layer of security by requiring additional verification.
- Be wary of phishing: Organize training for remote workers, who are more vulnerable without the corporate network’s protection.
- Back up your data: This ensures you can pick up where you left off if things go pear-shaped, whether from ransomware or a natural disaster.
For more in-depth tips, check out our complete list of best practices for better security.
As we learned during the pandemic, having multiple family members making high-bandwidth use of the same connection at the same time takes a toll on productivity.
For companies, things got even more complicated as they sought to guarantee easy access for remote users working from a small branch office or elsewhere. An elegant solution here is Zyxel’s Remote AP (RAP) function, which works with the USG FLEX firewall. It lets network admins preconfigure RAP-supported access points with a secure tunnel then simply send the APs to employees to install at home or their branch office, instantly connecting them to the company network with no expertise required.
An equally no-fuss solution for sharing high-speed internet among groups of remote users is a 5G/LTE mobile router. These come in especially handy as backup when a main line goes down or for places with no fixed-line connection or WiFi.
Office redesign and reconstruction
As people return to their physical workplaces, the office is again fulfilling its role as a place for collaboration – but it’s also changing. Companies are piloting new spaces designed to foster higher productivity and a safer, more hygienic environment.
Ideas to consider include holding meetings in open spaces and eliminating assigned seating, such as by using hot desking to share workspaces. This both reduces overhead costs and makes for a safer environment because, in contrast to those with lots of personal items, empty desks are more likely to be cleaned and disinfected regularly. Of course, it’s still necessary to keep office cubicles for those who need to avoid distraction.
In addition, sensor-based health tracking and hot desking empower real-time decision-making based on employees’ needs and work patterns. The physical location of staff’s devices can even be tracked by WiFi access points, enabling alerts to be sent if too many people gather in an area for an extended period.
Hybrid work is the next normal, and with it, a powerful office network opens more valuable business opportunities. Feel ready to catch the hybrid work wave but not sure where to start? Check here for practical tutorials and best practices to help you easily optimize productivity and cybersecurity in any work environment.