Over the past year, the world has been through a remote working revolution. Even those businesses which didn’t previously embrace a flexible working approach were forced to send employees home as their offices shut. Since then, the IT landscape has changed drastically as changes were made to ensure operations could continue running smoothly and securely.
IT teams’ response to the pandemic should be applauded, as the drastic shifts they made in short time helped to sustain ‘business as usual’ for many companies. In fact, recent research sheds light on the changes IT teams have been through over the past year, revealing the role to be significantly different compared to before the pandemic. As we move into 2021, the priorities and functions of IT teams will continue to be shaped by the changing nature of work, so here are seven key trends that teams must keep up with to thrive in the remote workplace.
- Remote work is here for good
Prior to the pandemic, nearly 75% of employees worked in traditional office settings. As a result of COVID-19, this paradigm has shifted greatly. Over the span of a few months, 65% of employees shifted to remote only, while only 20% of employees continued to work in-office, and 15% worked a mix of in-office and remote. As 2021 gets underway, it’s clear that remote work is here to stay – with many companies making a permanent shift to remote work and others adopting hybrid models. This has had a significant impact on the priorities of IT teams.
- More endpoints mean more control
The average number of endpoints IT is managing has decreased over the years, resulting in IT teams having better control overall. On average, IT teams were managing 750 endpoints in 2018, down to just 371 in 2020. In 2020, only 1 in 10 don’t know how many endpoints they are managing, compared to nearly 3 in 10 in 2018.
- What’s taking up IT’s time?
With an evolving threat landscape and more prevalent BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) work environments, IT teams are spending more time managing IT security threats and developing new security protocols than ever. Nearly 50% of IT professionals are spending 5 to 8 hours a day on security, compared to 35% in 2019. Additionally, IT is spending more time on virtual tasks. Team web meetings, remotely accessing employee devices, IT support calls and virtual events are among the top tasks occupying IT professionals’ time.
- New opportunities for IT
Before the pandemic, IT teams assumed many tasks could never be automated or executed remotely, but many found they were able to adapt when forced to. Managing IT software and hardware, managing IT security, and IT employee training and skill development are among the top tasks that were transitioned during remote work. This shift has opened up new opportunities for IT teams in how they are structured and how they operate moving forward.
- Cloud security breaches remain a leading fear
The top IT security concerns continue to be data breaches. With cloud technology and adoption skyrocketing over the years, fear of a cloud data security breach has increased significantly. More than 50% cite cloud data breaches as a top security concern in 2020, up from 40% expressing concern in 2018. Other top concerns include malware (46%), and ransomware (40%). One concern that remains critical to IT teams is employee behaviors. In 2018 and again in 2020, 45% of IT professionals identify employee online habits and behaviors as a key IT security concern. In the remote work environment, it is more important than ever for IT teams to put in place new measures like security training and identity and access management in order to mitigate these ongoing risks.
- Remote work has ensured a greater focus on IT infrastructure
More than a third of IT professionals cite the shift to remote work as the leading driver of change in the IT industry, up from 19% in 2019. While moving to the cloud and adoption of SaaS continues to be core focus, a greater focus on IT infrastructure monitoring, and a shift from reactive to proactive IT support are seen as increasingly important trends.
- Limited budgets mean limited solutions
More than a third of IT professionals agree that a lack of budget is the biggest challenge their company is facing in trying to keep up with IT trends. IT training, lack of IT staff, lack of control over a remote workforce, and IT staff resistance to change are all seen as the most common reasons IT teams are struggling to adapt to changes in their field. With limited budget, IT teams must implement solutions that enable them to do more with less and prioritise implementing tools with security, automation, and monitoring functionality.
Remote work is here to stay. IT teams will need to be agile in their way of working, able to adjust their strategies in line with rapidly changing circumstances. The trends that shaped 2020 will not be forgotten, and will ultimately continue to transform how we view the modern world of working.