Delivering on the rising need for remote working

As times become increasingly uncertain not just locally but across the globe, society across the board has largely retreated within the safety of their homes, resulting in a swell of the population engaging in remote working situations.

Remote working has already been steadily rising in popularity in Singapore as a flexi-work option, with a 2018 study recording that 63 per cent of employees were working away from the office at least once a week. However, as “Work-From-Home” has evolved into a necessity across organisations and industries, it’s to the benefit of Singaporean businesses to remain agile and, where possible, ensure their teams have the ability to adopt flexible practices at the drop of a hat.

Surging demand for video conferencing

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, enterprises have increasingly encouraged employees to work from home, causing a drastic shift in digital consumption patterns in a short span of time. For instance, Equinix has witnessed a 30 per cent surge in Internet exchange traffic in Singapore, which is also currently seeing one of the highest overall traffic in the world.

Integral to remote working is the ability to easily and seamlessly interact with colleagues, clients, partners and prospects over video. Video conferencing shortens perceived distance between people and encourages collaboration and engagement, so teams can continue operating with their usual office camaraderie. With an increase in digitally savvy employees, combined with the impact of changing work patterns, there has been a corresponding spike in demand for video conferencing, with unified communication vendors like WebEx, Zoom and Cisco reporting more than 100 per cent increases as a result.

Integral to telecommunication’s success is the relatively seamless communication experience, for which low latency and high performance are necessary. It’s critical for telecommunication providers to be able to quickly scale up bandwidth in various places on their network, with a particular focus on doing more peering closer to end users – which can be achieved via hosting it in the right digital infrastructure.

How virtual networks maintain business continuity

Prior to COVID-19, workloads had already begun a move to the digital edge. According to the Global Interconnection Index (GXI) Volume 3, a market study published by Equinix, interconnecting between multiple network providers across numerous edge locations is the most prominent use case for interconnection bandwidth. Currently, it makes up 68 per cent of all interconnection bandwidth in Asia-Pacific and is expected to grow fourfold by 2022.

This global remote working situation has also resulted in a huge influx of remote worker internet traffic. Where traffic used to be centralised to a singular office location, now organisations must grapple with this influx coming in through corporate firewalls to virtual public networks (VPNs). The internet has since also become essential in smooth telecommuting – with remote workers requiring mission-critical access to corporate networks, clouds and applications in a highly distributed networking environment.

Organisations that have remained reliant on physical network infrastructure may see these challenges as daunting, with physical networks unable to provision capacity, redirect network traffic and adjust security control policies on the fly. However, businesses who have managed to transform critical network capabilities from physical to virtual have been able to pivot faster than their peers in order to meet these challenges and maintain business continuity.

Even prior to the pandemic, virtual, software-defined networks had become increasingly important for enterprises to achieve digital transformation objectives. Software-defined networks (SDN) and network functions virtualisation (NFV) technologies make it possible to remotely manage distributed network resources and data traffic to ensure business continuity during volatile times. Virtual networking also allows for businesses to scale networks to accommodate changing user demands – a constant challenge in these times, with the shifting dynamics of remote users accessing networks and clouds.

The next steps in uncertain times

The unprecedented period of uncertainty has only highlighted the need for enterprises to be agile to stay afloat. Remote working will continue to remain a reality in the near future, with a survey by Gartner finding that 74 per cent of CFOs already intend to make the shift to remote work for some employees permanent. By embracing digital transformation, businesses can ensure they have the resources and tools in place to facilitate remote working and maintain staff productivity regardless of external circumstances in the future.