The rise of remote and hybrid work has undoubtedly reshaped our professional landscape. Work-life balance, recruitment, productivity – everything’s on the table, and the adjustments keep coming. But amidst this upheaval, one department stands out for its underappreciated role: IT.

We recently conducted a survey of IT and systems managers to gauge the impact of remote work on their world. The results were clear – IT departments are facing a complexity explosion.

83% of IT leaders reported a significant or moderate increase in network management complexity over the past three years. Not a single respondent saw a decrease. This dramatic shift, they overwhelmingly agreed (70%), stemmed from the surge in remote and hybrid work arrangements.

The connection is simple: more remote users translate to more disconnected access points, and that translates to heightened security risks. These risks are substantial, and IT leaders are acutely aware of them. A resounding 56% listed data, device, and network security as their primary concern related to remote work.

So how are IT departments adapting? Unsurprisingly, a significant portion (30%) are prioritizing remote access solutions. Nearly as many (28%) are focusing on centralized management and automation tools. These are crucial steps to streamline operations and mitigate risk in a dispersed work environment.

The message is clear: IT departments are on the frontlines of this massive workplace transformation, grappling with escalating complexity and heightened security concerns. Yet, the survey didn’t delve into whether company leadership truly grasped the extent of these challenges. One thing’s for certain – IT isn’t getting the support it deserves.

Regardless of the future of work – remote, hybrid, or a return-to-office model – one thing is certain: serious conversations with, and investments in, IT are paramount. These discussions should be happening now, not later. IT departments aren’t just the tip of the spear in this new landscape – they are the entire weapon, shield and all.

The future of work hinges on a well-equipped and empowered IT team. It’s time to acknowledge their critical role and provide them with the resources they need to succeed.

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