The Rush to Work from Home – One Year Later

Its Impact on Productivity, Cybersecurity, and the Supply Chain


Once upon a time, people used to work in offices, in buildings, in cities. Now, people work in pajamas, on couches, in home offices. A lot has changed in the last year as companies were forced to adapt to the realities of the COVID pandemic and shift their workforce to a work from home model.
 
One year later, we look at some of the major impacts the rush to work from home has created, as well as plans to return to the workplace, with regard to productivity, cybersecurity, and the technology supply chain.
 
Work from Home by the Numbers
2020 was a year of seismic change in the workforce. According to Gartner, 88% of business organizations worldwide either mandated or strongly encouraged their employees to work from home as the coronavirus started to spread. Since spring 2020, 42% of the U.S. workforce has been working from home full-time, according to a Stanford University study.
 
Work from home employees are saving a considerable amount of time not having to commute. A study by Airtasker reports that, on average, a work from home employee saves 8.5 hours a week not commuting to work. But, they are starting their work days earlier and ending them later – working 1.4 more days each month.

So, a lot of people are working remotely in place of their previously in-office jobs. How has that impacted the perception of work from home for the workforce? Interestingly, it depends on which study you read or choose to believe.
 
According to a survey created by LiveCareer, 61% of white-collar workers said they want their company to let them work remotely indefinitely. But according to a 2020 Martec Group report, before COVID, 62% of employees reported positive mental health, but now, only 28% do, and 59% claim that they do not like working from home.
 
These findings suggest that most organizations will settle on a hybrid approach, with added autonomy that allows employees the freedom to work where they can be most productive.
 
Productivity
How has the shift to work from home impacted productivity? Again, it seems to depend on who you ask and which study you read.
 
According to a Boston Consulting Group study, 75% of work from home employees said they have been able to maintain or improve their productivity on individual tasks.  Researchers from Stanford, The University of Chicago and Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México found that 41.2% of remote workers feel more efficient, 15.3% believe they are less efficient, and 43.5% feel about the same level of efficiency as working in an office. (Barrero, Bloom and Davis, 2020)
 
Existing productivity reports may not account for the increasing work hours created by work from home. Employees say they are more productive, but they are also working more hours.
 
A hybrid model that extends the workday will challenge even the most mature service desk.  Organizations should explore a “shift-left” strategy to accelerate self-service and modern management tools that simplify device provisioning and application deployment.  Adapting to a modern management style allows organizations to manage endpoints in a unified way without compromising security. This best practice helps support a hybrid approach, on-boarding new employees, and off-boarding employees as well. Modern management also includes the ability to remotely wipe data from a device, manage reverse logistics, and accurately track assets.
 
Whether employees’ productivity has increased, decreased, or remained the same, without the right tools, strategy, and capabilities, organizations will not be able to continue work from home or have a hybrid model without facing technology and security difficulties.
 
Cybersecurity
Triggered by lockdowns across the country, organizations had to make an abrupt transition to a work from home model, which forced them to scramble to support their suddenly much larger remote workforce. For many, security measures and training were left behind in favor of speed. Not coincidentally, cyber criminals found the lockdown the perfect time to attack millions of vulnerable remote workers and their improperly secured devices.
 
According to a 2020 Malwarebytes report, 20% of organizations said they had a security breach because of a remote worker and 24% had unexpected expenses to resolve a security breach or malware attack.
 
It’s certainly not just the organizations’ fault that cyber-attacks have increased. The same report said that 28% of remote workers are using their personal devices for work more than their company-issued devices, opening themselves up for attack. One reason work from home employees are disregarding security protocols is because they feel like they can take additional risks because they are not being watched by IT and security. (Tessian, 2020)
 
Supply Chain Shortages
One year after COVID prompted world-wide lockdowns, we are seeing considerable pressure on the supply chains of many industries, including manufacturers of computers and other workplace technology.
 
When 2020 began, no one expected a large spike in computer sales after nearly a decade of steady decline. But when U.S. employers began to ask employees to work from home in spring 2020, that is exactly what happened. March 2020 saw sales of computers increase by 40 percent and laptop sales rise 50 percent. (NPD Group, 2020)
 
When automotive assembly facilities vehicle began to shut down, microchip manufacturers adjusted their production to meet demand in other industries. As the automotive industry came back online, chip manufacturers responded to the influx of demand, which created chip shortages for other industries. Now, delays in chip manufacturing is making lead times for laptops, desktops, and monitors triple what they used to be.
 
With so much supply chain pressure, it may very well be more cost-effective to update your old IT assets instead of replacing them with new ones.
 
The Lesson Learned
In the rush to remote work – productivity, cybersecurity, and supply chains have been impacted. To maintain high levels of productivity and cybersecurity, organizations need to invest in the correct tools that allow their employees to work from anywhere, securely. To make sure supply chain issues don’t impact your day-to-day business operations, it’s best to work with a partner that can manage your technology procurement and logistics, and act as a strategic consultant on all of your technology life-cycle concerns.
 
MCPc is a global data protection company that helps organizations dramatically minimize their risk of disruption from unforeseen events like cyber-attacks and data breaches by providing industry-best business technology services. Our goal is to help every client secure their future ith the highest degree of security and productivity and the least amount of risk.