Navigating the Hybrid Work Challenge for Network Users
January 18, 2024

Destiny Bertucci

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The widespread shift to hybrid and remote work since the pandemic has complicated job responsibilities for network administrators who face complex new challenges to deliver dependable connectivity and security for their far-flung users. The 9-to-5 office weekday has already become a distant memory for most employees, replaced by a changing landscape that blends formal office workplaces with home offices, hotels, and neighborhood cafés.

To gain better industry context about how IT organizations are addressing these challenges, Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) and Auvik conducted a recent survey of more than 350 IT professionals who support the networking requirements of employees that work from home. From the research findings, it seems clear that most network operations teams are still struggling to solve this issue.

In Episode 2 of the MEAN TIME TO INSIGHT Podcast, Shamus McGillicuddy, VP of Research, Network Infrastructure and Operations, at EMA, discusses the network management impacts of remote work.

Virtually all IT organizations (96%) are already supporting hybrid workers, who now make up 30% of all employees. Based on these trendlines, nearly three-fourths of respondents (73%) reported an increase in their workloads following the shift from traditional work to hybrid work environments. These abrupt changes have created a tricky problem for IT teams because they no longer control all the network assets which employees need to access, but they still must provide a seamless user experience across all business operations. As a result, 87% of organizations have allocated budgets to update their network tools for remote and hybrid workers, but just 32% have reported being successful in their efforts.

These research findings reveal that the biggest barriers to the remote user experience include spotty service from home Wi-Fi setups, long physical distances from application servers, and poor quality from internet service providers. The two leading concerns for work-from-home employees involved their limited access to virtual private networks (VPNs) to establish digital connections between their computers and distant company servers, and recurring performance glitches with SaaS applications.

Rethinking Network Operations for Remote Troubleshooting

In this byzantine hybrid environment, most network automation tools are no longer adequate to perform the necessary steps for remote troubleshooting and remediation. More than three-fourths of organizations (76%) discovered a need to manage their network access policies across the patchwork of on-premises networks and remote users.

For all these reasons, 72% of organizations deployed network hardware to the homes of their remote staff. This included the installation of network security devices (63%) and improved Wi-Fi access points (54%). Furthermore, the increasing requirements to support hybrid office mobility caused 90% of organizations to upgrade their own internal Wi-Fi networks.

About half of all network operations teams (49%) also partnered with new tool vendors to help manage the network experience for remote workers. The most popular solutions included remote desktop access tools (81% of respondents), followed closely by endpoint monitoring tools (79%).

This sweeping move to a hybrid workforce is not just some lingering remnant from the pandemic – it is the undeniable future of work itself. The research findings indicate that network administrators and IT teams should take the time to do some self-reflection and understand their top priorities for overcoming these obstacles.

Businesses today must deliver the appropriate network tools and software to support their employees who choose to work from home, the office, or anywhere else for that matter. Making steady progress will require investments in secure solutions for remote network access, including integrated network security automation and centralized management consoles. By combining these important capabilities with modern observability tools, network admins can gain much greater visibility to monitor and manage network performance for the entire hybrid workforce, no matter where people are located. Navigating this ongoing challenge will require a steady hand on the wheel by IT leaders, but also an accurate roadmap to understand where they are coming from and where they still need to go.

Destiny Bertucci is Product Strategist at Auvik
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