Coronavirus is exploding the remote workforce – here’s how IT should prepare

My Post (8).pngThe tech world first became acutely aware of Coronavirus when the gigantic MWC mobile conference in Barcelona was canceled after several of its major telecom exhibitors pulled out.

Over the past two weeks, as virtually every significant tech conference for the next two months has been either canceled, postponed or transformed into an online event, the epidemic’s full implications have become apparent to everyone in the tech universe.

Events aren’t the only thing being disrupted as a recent survey by Blind, an anonymous social network for verified professionals, found that more than three-quarters of respondents have some level of fear about going to work.

The disruptive effects of coronavirus seriously hit home to more and more enterprise workforces over the past week as tens of thousands of employees, including the entire Silicon Valley staffs of Facebook, GoogleApple and others have been told to stay home and work remotely as employers strive to limit the viruses spread.

Indeed, the same Blind survey found that ate Seattle-based firms, including Amazon, Microsoft, LinkedIn and Expedia, the percentage of those already working from home averages greater than 80%. The move is a prudent and reasonable precaution as the virus continues to afflict thousands of people outside of Asia, however, the reactionary way that the edicts have been made left no time for planning. Unfortunately, in the coming days and weeks, as the number of remote workers in organizations explodes, many will find themselves unprepared to handle the IT problems that will inevitably crop up.

Remote work: From the exception to the norm

For some of us, the convergence of home and office happened years ago and we’ve learned the requisite technology tricks and cultural mores to make the transition and be mostly self-sustaining. We understand that when sharing a space with others that aren’t working, you need some private workspaces and rules about acceptable interruptions. Likewise, we’ve installed the necessary broadband capacity, office equipment, conferencing technology and furniture to be productive and comfortable. Unfortunately, the necessarily rushed Coronavirus remote-work policies many organizations have made many of our colleagues will have a telecommuting baptism by fire.

Similarly, IT organizations that have designed and staffed for a small number of steady remote workers, with the bulk of telecommuters doing so primarily as a day-extending convenience, will suddenly be faced with hundreds or thousands of remote users accessing infrastructure built for a fraction of the load. As Gregg Siegfried, Gartner Research Director for Cloud and IT Operations put it to me in email and phone conversations: – Read more