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A survey of 402 executives and technology professionals in the U.S. conducted by Dimensional Research on behalf of ManageEngine, a unit of ZoHo that provides an IT operations platform, suggests managed service providers (MSPs) will be supporting large numbers of remote work environments for at least the next two years.

According to the report, 96 percent of U.S. organizations surveyed are planning to stick with remote work for at least the next two years as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage. Nearly three quarters (74 percent) of respondents also said usage of cloud solutions increased as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report also notes 81 percent of U.S.-based IT professionals believe that having remote workers has increased their enterprise’s security challenges. Phishing is the most common threat (62 percent) identified, followed by endpoint network attacks (49 percent), malware (39 percent), account hijacking (38 percent), and social-media-based attacks (32 percent).

Organizations look to secure remote work environments

In response to those threats, a full 97 percent of organizations pursued some additional security actions that included:

    • Raising employees’ awareness: 77 percent
    • Training employees on cybersecurity: 68 percent
    • Adapting company security strategies: 58 percent
    • Monitoring employee devices: 47 percent
    • Implementing a zero-trust network: 20 percent

More than half (56 percent) of respondents said that increased security would in turn strengthen their company’s confidence in cloud solutions, followed by increased performance (48 percent), and improved reliability (47 percent).

Over half of respondents (53 percent) said they acquired new remote worker support skills, while 52 percent said that their organizations’ remote worker support teams have increased reliance on cloud solutions in the last year. Other than remote worker support teams, IT operations had the highest increase in use of cloud solutions (60 percent), followed by data teams (50 percent). Disaster recovery and compliance teams had the lowest rate of adoption at 29 percent and 22 percent, respectively.

Only a third (33 percent) of IT teams need to provide approval on all app purchase, while 37 percent said employees have purchased mobile-specific applications without direct approval from IT, followed by online meeting tools (29 percent), and document sharing applications (26 percent). Conversely, disaster recovery and compliance teams had the lowest rate of adoption at 29 percent and 22 percent, respectively.

It’s not likely employees will be returning to office full time, ever

Businesses are fiercely competing for talent at all levels. If the right person for a job is located halfway around the world, a business is going to hire that person. As many businesses have quickly discovered, the pool of talent they can recruit from is no longer limited to who can commute to an office within two hours.

Of course, the pressure to secure all those work from home environments is only going to increase. Organizations will need to extend a zero-trust IT environment out to any number of homes that today mostly rely on consumer-grade wireless networks. It’s just a matter of time before many of those remote offices are compromised, prompting organizations to shift to a secure access service edge (SASE) platform that will most likely be managed by an MSP.

In the meantime, despite the many challenges they face, MSPs should encourage their end customers to embrace a new remote computing reality that ultimately benefits both them and the organizations they serve.

Photo: SeventyFour / Shutterstock

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Mike Vizard

Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

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