There are positive signs that Covid restrictions may start lifting in the coming months. As things gradually open up again, we will start to see many businesses return to full capacity, with many encouraging their employees to return to the office. What is clear, however, is that whether organisations are in favour of remote working or not, their employees overwhelmingly wish to continue to work completely or at least partially from home. That’s going to push companies to seek different kinds of digital transformation that caters to a new generation of hyper-mobile distributed employees.
In the UK, many companies are already seeing the writing on the wall, pre-emptively introducing policies that will give their employees a hybrid working environment. For employees this can mean at least two or three days at home, and two or three days commuting to the brick-and-mortar office. For organisations, this can lead to significant cost savings, but may none-the-less require proactively reorganising office space to accommodate hot-desks in favour of fewer dedicated spaces.
Long live the distributed workforce
In a survey conducted by Nationwide, the UK’s largest building society, 57% of the company’s employees expressed a desire to work from home full-time after the lockdown, while an additional 36% said they preferred a hybrid work environment combining some home and office-based work.
As a result, Nationwide recently announced that its 13,0000 office workers will soon be able to choose where they work. They will be given the option to work from home or even from a High Street branch if they prefer.
The last year has taught many of us that ‘how’ we do our jobs is much more important than ‘where’ we do them from.Joe Garner, CEO
This is just one example of a much larger trend. In another sign that office work is here to stay, the demand for careers in technology has boomed even while other sectors of the economy have struggled. More than 100,000 new tech jobs have been created in the UK since the beginning of the Covid pandemic, according to figures released by Office for National Statistics (ONS). The data from ONS show that roles in the information and communication sector jumped by a significant 104,000 headcount since April 2020, bringing the total number of technology jobs currently in the UK to almost 1.6 million.
The need for SASE
For public and private sector organisations alike, adapting to an explosion in mobility will require beefing up security and network infrastructure that keeps employees and data safe and productive. As millions of employees become more mobile, they will undoubtedly use even more cellular and Wi-Fi networks, and connect to even more cloud-delivered SaaS apps than ever, over networks that are neither owned nor managed by the organisation. This, in turn, will put IT teams under enormous pressure to modernise their technology stack.
Clearly, there is a massive need for better security, less network and security complexity, and fewer traffic bottlenecks. SASE holds the key.
If you haven’t heard of SASE, or Secure Access Service Edge, you’re not alone. SASE is a term coined by Gartner back in 2019 in response to what we’ve witnessed over the past year – an enormous shift away from on-premise infrastructure and to cloud-hosted apps and services. It’s a framework that includes multiple elements of network and security technology under a single, cloud-delivered umbrella. This includes solutions that many companies may already employ today, such as SD-WAN, FWaaS, zero trust network access (ZTNA), Cloud SWG, Experience Monitoring and more.
NetMotion recently conducted an international survey to measure the acceptance and growth of SASE around the world. The survey polled IT professionals in the U.S., Australia, Japan, Germany and the UK. Although there were some remarkable similarities among the responses, when compared with the other countries in the survey, the UK results revealed some areas where the UK is leading and others where it ranks below average. Presented here are some of the highlights.
When we compared the UK with the results of the survey from the rest of the world, what we found was quite eye-opening.
- IT professionals in the UK are more likely to be able to explain SASE than any other market with 81% claiming they can confidently explain the principles compared to just 64% across other markets.
- However, less than half of IT leaders in the UK are embracing SASE in more than half of their technology stack today, this is slightly higher than in other markets on average though but suggests even with the understanding, businesses are different and the journey to fully embracing SASE takes time.
- 84% of IT Leaders in the UK have or are planning to adopt a zero-trust posture when determining access to company resources, higher than the global average of 74%.
Legal firms like Osborne Clarke are an excellent example of what we can expect more companies to do in the future. With over 270 Partners and more than 900 lawyers spread across 25 locations, Osborne Clarke’s employees today are completely agile, able to work from any location thanks to the NetMotion platform and what they’ve called a ‘connected working policy.’ Even when working remote, the platform gives the company’s IT team deep visibility into app, network and device performance, and helps manage policies that reduce bandwidth needs and ensure data security.
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