Insights > Network Visibility + Security

Are Onsite Networks Ready for Remote Workers to Come Back?

2021-07-29  |  6 min read 

Will Remote Behaviors Overload Onsite Networks?Keysight Hawkeye - Are Onsite Networks Ready for Remote Workers to Come Back?

They say old habits die hard. But I think new ones can be just as hard to kick.

Let’s take working from home, for example. As businesses hash out timelines to bring everyone back to the office, I think it’s fair to assume most of us aren’t particularly excited to hang up our sweatpants and give up that sweet 30-second bedroom-to-office commute.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Over the last 18 months, workforces worldwide have adapted to remote work — and corporate networks have had to keep up. That isn’t to say it’s always been pretty. I mean, who can forget the choppy video calls, overloaded VPNs, and bottlenecked performance that plagued networks during spring and summer 2020? But, as is often the case, network operations teams adapted. They worked through the kinks, made the proper adjustments, and enabled a temporarily-remote workforce to carry on business as usual without interruption or delay.

Nowadays, a lot of us are going back to the office — or we will be soon. But what does that mean for the onsite networks that we’re coming back to? How much will the habits we picked up at home affect network performance?

Are Onsite Networks Ready for an Influx in Voice and Video Traffic?

A lot has happened over the last year and a half. The way we do business has changed, and so has the way we interact with technology. Unified communications apps like MS Teams, Cisco Webex, and Zoom were always popular, but now we’re using them more than ever before. Video calls used to be a “once in a blue moon” type of occasion. Now, we’re firing up our cameras every single day.

Unfortunately, all that facetime puts a drain on network performance. In terms of bandwidth, voice-over-IP (VoIP) calls are a trickle — video is a torrent. If onsite networks aren’t ready to handle a surge in video traffic, companies could be in for a rude awakening when their remote workers come back into the office.

Granted, teams will readjust over time. It’s fair to estimate that video traffic will likely start to taper off as people readjust to life in the office, but how long will that take? How many months of choked bandwidth and lagging performance will company sites need to endure? And what about the workers who never return to the office? How many more video calls will be required to maintain collaboration?

Active Monitoring Tools Can Help Ensure Onsite Networks Are Ready for the Surge

So what can a network operations team do? No one wants a rash of performance problems and a flood of helpdesk complaints; but overestimating the load on your network and overpaying a service provider isn’t exactly ideal, either. You need to right-size your network — and that means you need to understand how exactly how much strain your remote users are going to put on it.

Fortunately, active / synthetic monitoring tools like Keysight Hawkeye can help you do just that. Tools like Hawkeye enable you to measure simulated network traffic sent across various hardware- and software-based endpoints throughout your network. Not only does this enable you to see how much different types of network traffic affect performance across your network (including HQs, branches, and remote sites), it enables you to construct complex “what if” scenarios and assess your network’s readiness against them.

For example, let’s say you have an office in Texas that’s about to reopen. You have hundreds of non-essential personnel coming back, and you want to know if your onsite network is prepared to handle the stress of them dialing into thousands of separate, concurrent video calls each week. With active monitoring tools like Hawkeye, that isn’t just possible — it’s easy. Plus, with a library of pre-loaded scripts to choose from, you won’t have to spend hours of your precious time trying to set it up.

We even have a free trial of Hawkeye available, so you can try it out for yourself!

Granted, as hard as habits can be to break, they’re even harder to predict. Who knows what the lasting impacts of our time working from home will be? But even though none of us can predict the future, I can promise you this: active monitoring tools like Keysight Hawkeye can help you make sure your network is ready for whatever comes next.