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A survey of 305 finance leaders in the U.S. published this week by PwC offers some indication as to what degree working from home is about to become the new normal in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly half of the respondents (49 percent) say they are planning to make remote work a permanent option for roles within their organizations that allow for it.

The number of employees working from home has already had a massive impact on managed service providers (MSPs). The most uncertain thing now is how long will those employees remain at home even when states and countries officially lift current stay-at-home edicts. Many employees may not necessarily be in a hurry to return the office simply because government officials have determined the level of risk for contracting the virus is now acceptable.

More challenging still, many organizations may decide to reduce the number of employees allowed into the office at any given time. Reconfigured workspaces will only allow so many employees to share the physical space in a building.

Further, many organizations are also going to be recovering from the economic impact of the pandemic for months to come. More than a few will decide they don’t necessarily need as much office space now that more employees have figured out how to remotely do their jobs. That decision could potentially save millions of dollars previously allocated for leasing office space.

Finally, many organizations that previously relied on an internal IT staff are going to transition to managed services. The PwC survey notes that nearly a third of the CFOs surveyed are anticipating layoffs in the next six months. Some positions will be saved by shifting the management of IT to an MSP. And some of those MSPs are going to be former members of the internal IT team that is now a newly-minted MSP that has at least one major client.

Remote employees present a difficult challenge

Everything from managing virtual private networks (VPNs) at scale to pushing application patches out to thousands of endpoints over wide area networks (WANs) is much more difficult. More than a few internal IT teams are simply not going to be up the task for the long haul. So, as remote work becomes the new normal, MSPs should not be surprised to see demand for their services continue to steadily increase.

The simple fact is that demand for managed services has always been somewhat countercyclical. It may take a while for organizations to embrace the new normal, but the days when organizations employed large numbers of IT operations teams may be coming to an end. Most organizations are first going to automate as many processes as possible and then look to an external service provider to manage the rest. More than a few organizations will conclude the only thing they want to manage is the development and deployment of applications.

Savvy MSPs are proactively positioning themselves to take advantage of this inevitable transition now. MSPs that fail to anticipate the implications of this new normal now, will find that by the time they are ready to respond, most of the opportunities will have already passed them by. In fact, MSPs that are not investing in their businesses now to address a whole new set of emerging customer requirements are not likely to be around to see how it all turns out in the end.

Photo: George Wirt / 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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