Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic one of the topics that has dominated much of the business world has been remote working. Is it a short-lived trend, born out of necessity? Or is it here to stay, a natural evolution of the way we work? The answer likely lies somewhere in between, especially as we enter a somewhat uncertain fall and winter in North America.

With COVID-19 variants spreading, many large companies have already announced their plans to push their return-to-office dates back to 2022. Now more than ever, this raises the question of what an eventual return to normal will even look like? Will it be, as many predict, more of a new normal instead?

All signs point to the latter. And that presents new opportunities for savvy ISPs and integrators.

Remote Working, Here to Stay?

On a company by company basis, the jury is still out on what the new normal will look like, and the debate continues over whether workers should be asked to return to the office, continue working from home, or adopt a hybrid model.

What does seem clear however, is that on the whole, widespread remote working in some manner is here to stay. In a recent Colliers survey, 86% of managers said their employees will be working from home between one and four days a week going forward. Perhaps even more surprising, a recent forecast by Gartner predicts that one-third of the global workforce (and an astounding 53% of the United States workforce) will be working remotely either part-time or full-time in 2022.

Extending the Corporate Office to the Home Office

This has some profound implications for remote workers and the companies that employ them—implications that go far beyond the decision to supply those working from home with new ergonomic chairs and desks.

Effectively, as the average home office begins to evolve from being a temporary setup due to a crisis, into a more permanent extension of the corporate office, all of the proper IT and network infrastructure needs to be in place that supports the shift.

While unreliable WiFi and a lack of access to a secure VPN may have been tolerated in some companies throughout the pandemic, those attitudes and expectations will change quickly in businesses where remote work becomes more permanent and official.

The Opportunity for ISPs

All of this presents an obvious opportunity for ISPs and integrators. While it may have made sense to target remote workers directly during the height of the pandemic, it may now be time to begin focusing more on the companies that employ remote workers.

Already, many larger businesses are beginning to pay for the home internet services of their remote workers. As well, in some states this reimbursement of internet services is actually legally required.

The opportunity for ISPs to offer a variety of enterprise network solutions is clear. These solutions could be tiered to include everything from high-speed fiber optic internet, network security, network segregation options, and more.

What’s more, forward-thinking ISPs can weave into these enterprise solutions value-added bundles that also include the option for a variety of personal home services, perhaps with discounts and other incentives tied back to the enterprise offer.

As more people make the shift to remote working across North America, ISPs have an opportunity to rethink the way they package and bundle home internet services for workers and their employers alike.