How Hybrid Working Makes Your Network Bigger And Less Secure

The world of work has changed - The pandemic has accelerated the style of the workforce to be more in tune with modern living with more and more organisations creating ‘return to the office’ policies which reflect a blend of work from home and the office.

This new operational challenge has yet to be refined and, all too often, workers find themselves in the office talking to immediate colleagues at home and so negating any benefit of face-to-face working.

You might as well be on your laptop at home rather than on your own in an office.

It’s all good though, isn’t it?

The benefits are pretty obvious, less office space means less overhead. Less commuting time and cost means happier staff and indeed any drop off in expected productivity has proven ill-founded. Research from PWC in November 2021 shows that many companies have boosted productivity and performance during the pandemic, with 57% of respondents (almost 4,000) saying their organisation performed better against workforce performance and productivity targets in 2020/21, with only 4% saying the performance was worse.

In the short-term people are prepared to adapt, especially when their work commute is significantly reduced. Often uncatered for in wages and salaries, this reduction in commuter time has been seen of real value to many. So much so that recently (May 2022) a top London law firm offered all employees except partners the chance to work from home permanently in return for a 20% pay cut.

Further evidence of a shift in the work style is that the younger workforce is keener to work in the office than those more established in their careers. The work environment is seemingly more pleasant to work in than sitting at a kitchen table with housemates in a shared house or working alone in low-cost accommodation. The opposite to that is the fact that the modern workplace is noisy and, according to Leesman research , noise is one of the most disruptive aspects of office work.

It feels as if remote working is here to stay and, whilst the focus is on making sure people remain front and centre of the workplace, according to AT&T’s ‘Future of Work’ study, 72% of businesses lack a clear hybrid work strategy.

Are we focused on the right thing?

Whilst we focus on the people side of the business, we may find we take our eye off the prize.

Most systems and processes built before the pandemic were done so to support these office-based operations and, whilst this was going through a radical shift as more and more activity moved online, this has been accelerated as a result of the pandemic.

More people at home plus more demand on IT systems places a different demand on the systems by effectively widening the network of accessibility.

Indeed, the expectation placed on the network has changed significantly because in the workplace, the network was expected to work and if and when it didn’t then quite simply people quickly found workarounds until the problem was fixed. Downtime was managed by the team. Now with many of the same team dispersed, often accessing the network remotely, the ability to fix problems is diluted and the emotional frustrations that result for workers at home tend to have a bigger impact on the mental wellbeing of staff.

In a hybrid world business owners might not only focus on the physical well-being of their staff but also on the mental well-being of their staff and making sure everything works as it is meant. Yet no one built network systems for hybrid working, remote access through a variety of broadband systems with multiple firewalls and IP protocols. What was once a closed system is now far more open than before and with that comes risk.

Three Key Considerations

At Layer3 Systems we have identified three core areas for consideration.

System Architecture

A network is made up of hardware and software, wires connecting boxes with various programmes running on them, all designed to integrate and provide the business with a way of doing things to ultimately serve its customers be they internal or external.

With many workstations now sitting remotely, there is often a surplus of licences within the office environment which are not being used or indeed are no longer required. An audit of these can often throw up significant savings for unused licences.

Big networks need big servers or multiple servers, all of which need powering. With the cost of energy heading only one way at present, the implementation of power monitoring can soon identify and highlight energy consumption which can be reduced significantly by changing the way the system operates.

And finally, flexible working requires flexible workstations which need only be switched on when required and ideally switched off when not in use. The application of power automation for non-use, overnight or at weekends, could have a major impact on your bills.

By auditing your network, you can quickly identify system improvements in the architecture so that you are running everything in an optimum way.

Network Access

The efficiency of your network is often determined by the number of users on that network at any given time. The more users, the more work the network has to do to handle all of the activity.

In a hybrid world, this ‘loading’ may reduced as remote staff work on their personal machines away from the office.

This may mean that parts of the network are now underutilised and this offers the opportunity to consolidate and free up network resources to develop and test improved functionalities or new approaches. It may simply mean you can cut back on the resource drain on your business and become more profitable.

That said, remote staff still need access to the network to fulfil the roles they had when they were in the office and therefore the network needs to be opened up to multiple connections from a variety of IP addresses and broadband links.

It is important to establish with each member of staff, how they access the Internet to access your network when working remotely. Where there are instances of poor connectivity then it is important to offer help.

System Security

The variety of Wi-Fi and broadband access points for people at home is now extensive. Like all commercial markets, it is a very competitive arena. As buyers of Internet services, few of us are literate in the level of security that these services provide.

Whilst this may not impact our ability to watch Netflix or Zoom with our friends, providing access to your business network sets a different challenge.

By adopting a remote access hybrid working strategy, it is critical that you check your entire security model and ensure that urgent changes can be made to your security to ensure that your network is not overly open.

We have all seen stories of increased cyber-attacks and given the global climate, these are unlikely to get any less any time soon. Unfortunately when it comes to network security, a hybrid strategy that is unchecked increases vulnerability in this area.

It may well be that when the network was set up originally, security issues were taken care of, however as upgrades and additional software are added to a network, it can potentially add in vulnerabilities at the same time. It is always worth checking your security model regularly.

One simple check is reviewing your backup strategy now that hybrid staff are creating new work from home to make sure that these assets are not only housed with the company but are also backed up in the event of an unexpected outage.

A few words about the Layer3 Systems offer

Formed in 1995, Layer3 Systems takes full responsibility for any live network, applying our extensive experience, ensuring constant system monitoring and optimisation to liberate you from your technology and focus on what you do best.

Starting with a Free Network Audit we compile a summary report on your network configuration and security policy by analysing your network device logs. With advice on optimisation, cost savings and future-proofing your network, you’ll be set up to boost your business and make the most of hybrid working.

If you would like full confidence that your network is fit for a hybrid world then contact us on 0203 805 7795 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and talk directly to one of the Layer3 Systems team

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