More than two months have passed since the lockdown was put into place and people were told to stay indoors as per the social distancing norms to prevent the spread of the highly contagious Coronavirus. The world was definitely not prepared for this outbreak and no one imagined it would grow to the scale that it unfortunately has. Consequently, in order to survive amidst the lockdown, a lot of organizations had to reluctantly resort to working from home. Now, work from home trend had been a subject of contention in the industrial circles and the employers often frowned upon employees that wanted to work from home. The underlying assumption was that the quality of work would deteriorate and there would be problems related to coordination among the employees.
While that may well have been true a few years ago, things are very different now, and this lockdown has proven that. Supported on the shoulders of cutting-edge technologies like Video Conferencing and Cloud Computing, the work from home trend has emerged as the saviour of economies worldwide. Many organizations all over the world have been able to manage their business this way and surprisingly, with great success. Needless to say, this newly found success has busted many myths related to the work from home model, and it has given rise to a tantalizing question – would this model continue after the lockdown? Let us try to answer that question by examining some of the merits and demerits of this model.
Benefits of working from home
The work from home model has a plethora of benefits for both the employees and the employers. Let us take a look at some of the most prominent ones.
- For the employees, working from home is beneficial, because it saves them a substantial amount of money that would otherwise be spent as conveyance cost. It also saves precious hours that are spent in commuting. It also allows the employees to maintain a better work-life balance and take care of both the worlds simultaneously. As this lockdown has proven, contrary to popular belief, the employee productivity is actually increased while working from home, because of the flexible nature of the model.
- There’s an incentive for employers as well to implement work from home model, as they can cut-down on infrastructural costs from their budget. Since the people are working from their own homes, the employers no longer need to spend money to create a healthy working environment. The amount of money saved can be invested in the business which could lead to growth and expansion.
Drawbacks of working from home
There are basically two main drawbacks related to working from home and they can be easily eliminated by implementing technological solutions.
- Unstable internet connectivity and poor mobile network is a major issue, at least in a country like India. Even though 5G is in the pipeline, there are many areas across the country where we don’t even have proper 4G connectivity. Internet speed has to be top notch in order to make work from home a successful model – there are no two ways about it.
- Risk of data breach is another issue that needs to be monitored. A lot of organizations deal with sensitive information that is supposed to be accessed by authorized personnel only. The work from home model is devoid of the perimeter security controls that are present in an office environment. Even though many organizations have started using VPNs to increase the security, the lack of perimeter security does increase the likelihood of data breach.
If we consider that the internet connection is stable and the tunnel between organization’s servers and end-points (employees’ devices) is secure, then the only place that remains at the risk of a security breach is the end-point level. Therefore, all we have to do is to create a virtual edge security at the end-points. The proposed end-point solution can be implemented in the following manner:
- Identifying and tagging sensitive data for easy monitoring.
- Implement a role-based policy for allowing access to sensitive information.
- Carefully monitoring the movement of information in and out of end-points.
- In case any unauthorized access is detected, that IP needs to be blocked and the number of attempts must be logged.
- Logging all the offline activities.
- Monitor the activity pattern of the user and predict the behaviour in order to detect any anomaly that could point to a malicious attempt at data theft.
The future of work-from-home model
The situation that this pandemic has created has made work-from-home a necessity. It is the only option available to get the work done while maintaining social distancing and it has been working well so far. Given how successful it has been during such difficult times, it shouldn’t come as a surprise if it continues well after the lockdown is lifted. Many companies, in fact, have already stated that they’ll continue to work with this model.
Data breach, however, is a critical issue that needs to be addressed by the IT fraternity and if a viable solution is found for it, then there is no doubt that more and more organizations would be adopting the work from home model in the future.