When Telework is No Longer Temporary

Government Solutions
Network Management

Since the start of the COVID pandemic, approximately 50% of the U.S. workforce, including government workers, has been telecommuting—and it doesn’t look like they will return to their offices any time soon. According to a Federal News Network survey of federal employees and contractors, 60% were “very uncomfortable” returning to on-site work at a government office. And, why should they rush back to the office, when productivity is up, as it is at the Social Security Administration, according to NPR?

That’s not to say that the mass transition to remote work has not come with its own challenges. Home networks are being tested by the surge in activity. The New York Times reported that 10 days after the March shutdown, AT&T noted a 27% increase in traffic compared to the same day in 2019; and Verizon saw a 22% increase. Across the country, IT teams were caught off-guard and unprepared to manage all the distributed connections and variable network performance of their employees’ home networks. And the consequences range from the benign to the frustrating: we get bumped off video conferencing calls; we wait for files to download; we can’t access critical enterprise resources.

When it comes to working at home, the typical residential internet service doesn’t have the necessary capabilities – such as application prioritization or congestion mitigation – that an enterprise network delivers.

Whenever locations are spread across large state, a region or even the country, they inevitably have vastly different terrestrial infrastructure and broadband capabilities, depending on where they are located. Think of a state’s department of motor vehicles, the U.S. Department of the Interior, military bases or even recruiting offices. A location in a large suburban area will have access to higher bandwidth fiber, cable, or ethernet lines, while locations in more rural regions may not. As a result of these disparities, enterprise networks employ numerous technologies to ensure all sites, regardless of infrastructure, are able to maintain IT performance at a required level.

For years, Hughes has been solving these challenges for distributed enterprises through Software Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) solutions – serving over 41,000 managed SD-WAN sites and nearly half a million WAN sites worldwide. So when confronted with the mass exodus of employees from networked enterprise and government sites to home offices, it was natural for us to extend our SD-WAN solution to encompass these new residential distributed locations. Our new Work@Home solution delivers many of the benefits of SD-WAN to the home networking environment – like high quality, uninterrupted, secure connectivity to Software as a Service (SaaS) applications.

With an easy-to-install, low-cost VMware SD-WAN Edge device in their homes, employees can connect to the agency data center, the internet, and government cloud applications securely and reliably. The device enables automatic prioritization of government traffic over that of other users in the home, improving the employee’s user experience. Along with the edge device, our Work@Home solution offers a VMware SD-WAN Orchestrator, which enables the Zero Touch Provisioning of the device and makes it easy to push out predefined configurations to optimize performance.

With speedy rollouts, simplified management, reliable access and assured performance, Hughes Work@Home solution offers government and military agencies a path from what we all thought was to be a short-term remote work arrangement to a successful – and sustainable – work from home environment.

Watch this video to learn more about work from home scenarios and how you can outfit your workforce.