Increase in productivity—and risk—since the COVID-19 lockdown


IT pros revealed widespread remote work garnered challenges and security concerns, according to a recent Sectigo survey.

Symbol for reducing a risk. Cubes form the word "RISK" while a hand turns a cube and changes the word "high" to low" (or vice versa).

Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto

COVID-19 has imposed on nearly every aspect of life. The predominant imposition on the working world is the lightning-fast switch most businesses had to make, from offices on-premises to working from home. 

A recent survey by Sectigo,  2020 Work-From-Home IT Impact Study, showed that nearly 50% of those polled reported that productivity had increased since they were asked to WFH, while 35% “feel it’s stayed consistent,” and only 16% noted an actual decrease in productivity. 

Wakefield conducted the survey of 500 Five-hundred IT professionals at companies with at least 1,000 employees in the US, Canada, Germany, France, Ireland and the UK for Sectigo. Results revealed how the switch changed their business, the resultant productivity, tempered by the continuing risk. Companies that have not implemented long-term IT security strategies will continue to remain at risk.

As C-level executives keep embracing the increased productivity of a distributed workforce, “they need to consider new approaches to security that rely on automation and secure digital identities,” said Sectigo CEO Bill Holtz. 

“The reality is that the enterprise currently uses a mix of authentication tools that frequently include outdated or weak methods,” Holtz said. “This research indicates that with many employees remaining at home for the foreseeable future or even permanently, refining how we grant and manage digital access is more important than ever.”

SEE: Coronavirus: Critical IT policies and tools every business needs (TechRepublic Premium)

While 86% of IT professionals in total have reported continuing challenges in managing digital identity, and  hardware, including devices and company processes; in the US banking industry, 93% admit to those recurring challenges. 

productivity-increase.jpg

Image: Sectigo/Wakefield

Revenue-generating initiatives were delayed one month or longer, at the first blush of the coronavirus lockdown, said nearly 40% polled; 44% were forced to put cybersecurity initiatives on hold for a month or more, while focused on the WFH remote.

Making the transformation to a fully remote-work environment requires an understanding meant quick updates to

  1. Technology

  2. Processes

  3. Procedures

  4. Any resulting repercussions to revenue and cybersecurity 

The survey also revealed IT pros reported an improvement in performance.

Due to the scale of the digital transformation, an investment in a WFH infrastructure was critical for companies, but may also have caused project delays with long-term implications.

WFH culture grows

Respondents were clear that both IT professionals and co-workers met challenges, and stepped up performance despite the inherent challenges of on-prem to the WFH switch. 

IT pros in executive positions are very confident. The study found that across regions C-level IT pros (63%) are more likely than mid-level (40%) and non-management (41%) IT pros feel that overall productivity has increased. Increased revenue is the result of productivity, and it’s a perception that’s viewed favorably, as enterprises move beyond the lockdown and jumpstart stalled projects.

Nearly 60% of all respondents believe there will be somewhat of an increase in remote workers, because productivity levels rose as more people telecommuted.

SEE: Life after lockdown: Your office job will never be the same–here’s what to expect (cover story PDF) (TechRepublic)

Overall respondents on productivity

  • 49% increased somewhat or significantly

  • 35% stayed pretty much the same

  • 16% decreased somewhat or significantly

C-level respondents (IT executives) on productivity

  • 63% increased somewhat or significantly

  • 25% stayed pretty much the same

  • 12% decreased somewhat or significantly

To keep communication flowing between managers and staff, or between team members, remote access solutions are essential, but the study found that few (28%) were concerned about the risk of the high-profile “Zoom-bombing,” and more IT pros were concerned with more traditional cybersecurity issues. 

Traditional cybersecurity concerns during pandemic

Despite the known vulnerabilities and proven authentication technologies, there are lapses and security can be prey.

Biggest risks chart

Image: Sectigo/Wakefield

What companies are using to combat cybersecurity

Concern for widely known weakness in cybersecurity

  • 65% focused on username and password
  • 50% used hardware-token multifactor authentication
  • 72% of respondents credit their companies with “just the right amount” of cybersecurity
  • 93%  may undertake additional measures to improve security and business continuity in the next 12 months due to widespread remote work
  • 59% indicated that they would increase security for data and applications, compared to the pre-COVID-19 level, once offices are reopened

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