Sunday, 21 May 2023 05:45

Work from Home Under Attack as Companies Seek to Offset the Cost of Workspaces

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A couple of accountants came up the laneway the other day… No this is not a “Letterkenny” episode, but the cold intro style was spot to me for this one. It seems that in the pre-covid world many companies were in the process of buying up or moving to beautiful new office spaces. Some of these spaces had glorious open areas, beautiful break rooms and, of course, space for all. Then Covid hit and the lock downs. This forced those same companies to abandon those spaces and work like crazy to get everyone to work from home. Now the bill on those same spaces has come due and companies are calling everyone home.

On some levels this is understandable, after all if you spend a premium on office space you want to make sure people are utilizing it. Having the majority of your workforce not in the office makes that seem like a wasted investment. There is also no reason that most people cannot return to work at this stage. The problem is that this push is also cutting out people that might not be able to return to the office.

Over the past couple of months, a number of Anti-Work-from-Home articles and “new” stories have popped up expounding on the virtues of being in the office. They cite extra cost of maintaining off-site personnel, difficulties in managing off-site personnel, and a laundry list of other things. These same people often cite the importance of cloud services as opposed to on-premises services so I would take their logic with a grain of salt. Even people like Elon Musk have said that there is no reason that most people cannot come into the office to work.

For me, I cannot really get behind the logic here. I would say that many modern jobs can be done without the need to be in the office at all. IT and IT Security jobs are remote work no matter where you sit in the modern world. I cannot remember the last time I was at a terminal working in a data center to do anything on a server. When you add in heavily utilized services like VMWare, Azure, AWS, and GCP, you cannot be in front of the server, so you are already working remotely even when you are in the office.

For some work, such as highly classified work, you might need to work directly on the system in question. But these systems are often air-gapped and have little to no connections to the internet. This makes being local to the systems in question a must. High-side government work is one of those things, but even with government work there are high-side systems that are cloud based Microsoft365 has a GCC (Government Cloud Computing) high-side as does AWS. So not all classified information needs to be done locally on an air-gapped system.

The reality of this move is not that the work cannot be done remotely, it is the simple fact that far too many organizations either do not know how to or are unwilling to properly manage a remote workforce. They also, in many cases, have no clue as to how to secure that same workforce and (yes and) do not want to spend the money to do so. These same companies pining for the return to the office are not going to drop their cloud services and move back to on-prem serves and software, they are going to keep them and have their on-site staff continue to connect to them… remotely.

In the end this push to return to work after it was shown that most jobs can be done remotely was inevitable. There was no getting around it. The last couple of years showed that while employees could adapt to work from home, employers simply could not.

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