TechTalk Tuesday Logo

With the complete change that COVID-19 brought upon work life in the United States, the task of planning a corporate yearly budget has become even more complicated.

In any normal year, planning the company budget can be a chore. With the chaos that was thrown into the mix in 2020, many businesses are confused as to where they should allocate funds.

Remote work has thrown a monkey wrench into the internal mechanisms of corporate life. Add in the uncertainty that even the brightest leaders have no idea when or if their work environments will ever return to pre-2020 routines, and budget planners have an unprecedented task in front of them. For all we know, 2020 work routines may be our new normal for quite some time.

With this in mind, here are 6 essential items every company budget should address:

Prioritizing Remote Work

Many tech and global companies are planning to extend remote work policies into next summer, and a few companies like Dropbox, Twitter, and Microsoft are allowing the option for certain employees to choose remote work permanently. What the giants do, other corporations and SMBs tend to follow.

So, when planning a 2021 budget, don’t count on a best-case scenario. Prioritize remote work and the services and applications that will keep the remote workforce running smoothly and efficiently.

Moving Your Data Center to the Cloud

According to Forbes, in 2018 companies allocated on average 30% of their IT budgets to cloud computing. Then in 2019, CRN reported that for the first time ever, businesses spent more money annually on cloud infrastructure services than on data center hardware and software.

As 2020 showed, these trends are not anomalies. For 2021, cloud data centers are predicted to continue to drive most forms of business. The benefits of scalability, predictable resource allocation, redundancies and agility continue to be attractive and necessary components for enhanced productivity. Consider optimizing capital expenses by leveraging the cloud for infrastructure and applications.

Planning for Internet Connectivity Enhancements

How remote are your remote workers? Overall, as Americans, we seem to take for granted just how wired our offices are. Our home environment is a different matter. Our download and upload speeds pale in comparison to rates available at office locations, and in the more rural areas, dropped mobile calls are still common occurrences. A 2021 tech budget may want to include assistance for upgraded service plans and mobile boosters for essential remote employees.

Having a Strong Defense

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the FBI has seen cybersecurity complaints jump from 1,000 per day to 3,000 and 4,000 per day – a 300% to 400% increase. To combat this, companies need to double down on security by shoring up their firewalls and perimeter defenses, including all the computers and phones that access the network. A VPN is also necessary so your remote workers can securely access corporate data.

An effective disaster recovery plan is critical in the battle to protect employers from the ravages of ransomware and provide a way to restore data to a particular point in time prior to an attack. In case of a breach, companies should have backup and data recovery applications and protocols at the ready. It’s also a perfect time to consider a DDoS mitigation and prevention solution.

Lastly, it’s a good idea to retrain and reinforce best security practices for employees, including how to spot phishing emails and how to avoid malware.

Fostering Engagement Across Departments and Groups

One drawback of remote work is the difficulty of having spontaneous conversations with co-workers that lead to new ideas and solutions to existing problems. To quote Steve Jobs, “Creativity comes from spontaneous meets, from random discussions. You run into someone, you ask what they’re doing, you say ‘wow,’ and soon, you’re cooking up all sorts of ideas.”

With a remote workforce, companies need to give employees the tools to have these conversations, as well as foster these situations. Your budget should include options for secure video conferencing and chat apps to help the creativity and ideation flow.

Adopting Employee Monitoring Software

With remote workers, managers lose the option of stopping by a desk to track their work or call for productivity reports and meetings. Employee monitoring software will allow managers to track the amount of time employees are actively working to improve productivity and engagement, but that’s not all. Managers will be able to manage workflow and track Internet usage. Additionally, employee monitoring helps ensure workers are complying with security requirements.

Are You Ready to Create Your 2021 Budget?

With the complete upheaval of office life in 2020, it’s understandable that you may need help in determining the remote tools that will make up your technology budget. FirstLight is here to not only help you plan your budget, but to set up, implement, manage, and monitor your cloud, network, applications, devices, and security to keep your network running smoothly and efficiently.

By having FirstLight as your partner, we can streamline your processes and create budget efficiencies to help ensure the successful growth of your business.

Take us up on our offer! Give FirstLight a call so we can get the tools in place to make your 2021 budget a success.