A dog running through an agility course - agile business concept
PHOTO: Shutterstock

Online traffic has increased at significant rates since the pandemic began. Where traffic typically sees a 3 percent a month increase year over year, in the first few weeks of March 2020 internet traffic increased by 30 percent over March 2019 levels.(1) Network connectivity is increasingly becoming a concern as employees shift their online patterns. With everyone spending more time online, the risk of outages increases, which can have a profound effect on businesses’ bottom lines.

With the majority of workers continuing to work from home, companies should examine their technology and look for ways to leverage agility within the network. Having network agility ensures that employees have access to what they need, when they need it and aren’t impacted by connectivity issues.

Why Is Network Agility Important?

Network agility — defined as the speed at which a network can adapt to change while maintaining resiliency, security, and management simplicity(2) — is an issue that demands attention The distributed workforce needs smooth connectivity and real-time access to mission-critical apps and data. Without this access, employees lose momentum and productivity suffers.

Many factors contribute to connectivity issues. Historically, network demands have been stable, without a great deal of fluctuation. Several years ago, technologies that caused the greatest strain on a company’s network included mobile, video and virtualization.(3)

In 2020; however, new and traditional technologies started to strain networks thanks in part to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has driven many office workers to remote work. Video conferencing, in particular, has exploded in use. As an example, video conferencing apps were downloaded more than 60 million times in March.(4)

WIth the majority of offices working remotely, what were once stable network demands have become unpredictable. Sure, the majority of workers might still be working traditional hours. On the other hand, with the freedom of remote work comes greater flexibility in the workday. Employees are no longer tied to typical working hours and can push their working hours a few hours in either direction, depending on their needs.

The need for flexibility isn’t solely due to the pandemic, however. The changing nature of work as well as the needs of today’s digital workplace are also credited for the drive toward more network agility.(5) Thus, companies will need new strategies for their networks that will last beyond the pandemic.

Connectivity Is Key

With distributed workers needing access to their mission-critical applications and programs from home, connectivity is emerging as an essential part of the employee experience. As the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the globe, all countries saw a deterioration in internet speeds as governments issued lockdowns and office workers were forced to work from home. For example, internet speeds decreased in Europe in February during their first wave of government lockdowns, while the United States saw similar declines in March.(6)

Connectivity is costly when it fails; a 2015 study estimated that North American companies lost in $700 billion per year in aggregate due to downtime in information and communication technology.(7) To bring the corporate network to the distributed workforce in a safe and scalable manner, companies need to ensure their employees have unfetter connectivity and context-aware access to the tools they need.

Companies also need control over their deployments, as well as the ability to control and regulate those same deployments as necessary. Enabling automation can also help in this area. When deployments are automated, the network can take advantage of lesser trafficked times and deploy when bandwidth is lower, which in turn can prevent slowdowns just when employees are doing the most work.

Conclusion

The immediate effect of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a spike in internet traffic as office workers go remote and spend more time video conferences and on the web in general than ever before. Network demands have become more and more uncertain, especially as the fallout continues from the pandemic and office workers continue to mostly work remotely.

In this environment, companies need to leverage their network agility to ensure connectivity and keep employee productivity high. With the world transformed and many distributed workers in no hurry to return to the office anytime soon, companies need to focus their attention on their network and ensure workers have full, unfettered access to mission-critical applications and data.

Learn more about how VMWare can support your company’s network agility at vmware.com.

Sources

More Thought Leadership from VMWare