Increase in productivity—and risk—since the COVID-19 lockdown


IT pros revealed widespread remote work garnered challenges and security concerns, according to a recent Sectigo survey.

Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto

COVID-19 has imposed on nearly every aspect of life. The predominant imposition on the working world is the lightning-fast switch most businesses had to make, from offices on-premises to working from home. 

A recent survey by Sectigo,  2020 Work-From-Home IT Impact Study, showed that nearly 50% of those polled reported that productivity had increased since they were asked to WFH, while 35% “feel it’s stayed consistent,” and only 16% noted an actual decrease in productivity. 

Wakefield conducted the survey of 500 Five-hundred IT professionals at companies with at least 1,000 employees in the US, Canada, Germany, France, Ireland and the UK for Sectigo. Results revealed how the switch changed their business, the resultant productivity, tempered by the continuing risk. Companies that have not implemented long-term IT security strategies will continue to remain at risk.

As C-level executives keep embracing the increased productivity of a distributed workforce, “they need to consider new approaches to security that rely on automation and secure digital identities,” said Sectigo CEO Bill Holtz. 

“The reality is that the enterprise currently uses a mix of authentication tools that frequently include outdated or weak methods,” Holtz said. “This research indicates that with many employees remaining at home for the foreseeable future or even permanently, refining how we grant and manage digital access is more important than ever.”

SEE: Coronavirus: Critical IT policies and tools every business needs (TechRepublic Premium)

While 86% of IT professionals in total have reported continuing challenges in managing digital identity, and  hardware, including devices and company processes; in the US banking industry, 93% admit to those recurring challenges. 

Image: Sectigo/Wakefield

Revenue-generating initiatives were delayed one month or longer, at the first blush of the coronavirus lockdown, said nearly 40% polled; 44% were forced to put cybersecurity initiatives on hold for a month or more, while focused on the WFH remote.

Making the transformation to a fully remote-work environment requires an understanding meant quick updates to

  1. Technology

  2. Processes

  3. Procedures

  4. Any resulting repercussions to revenue and cybersecurity 

The survey also revealed IT pros reported an improvement in performance.

Due to the scale of the digital transformation, an investment in a WFH infrastructure was critical for companies, but may also have caused project delays with long-term implications.

WFH culture grows

Respondents were clear that both IT professionals and co-workers met challenges, and stepped up performance despite the inherent challenges of on-prem to the WFH switch. 

IT pros in executive positions are very confident. The study found that across regions C-level IT pros (63%) are more likely than mid-level (40%) and non-management (41%) IT pros feel that overall productivity has increased. Increased revenue is the result of productivity, and it’s a perception that’s viewed favorably, as enterprises move beyond the lockdown and jumpstart stalled projects.

Nearly 60% of all respondents believe there will be somewhat of an increase in remote workers, because productivity levels rose as more people telecommuted.

SEE: Life after lockdown: Your office job will never be the same–here’s what to expect (cover story PDF) (TechRepublic)

Overall respondents on productivity

  • 49% increased somewhat or significantly

  • 35% stayed pretty much the same

  • 16% decreased somewhat or significantly

C-level respondents (IT executives) on productivity

  • 63% increased somewhat or significantly

  • 25% stayed pretty much the same

  • 12% decreased somewhat or significantly

To keep communication flowing between managers and staff, or between team members, remote access solutions are essential, but the study found that few (28%) were concerned about the risk of the high-profile “Zoom-bombing,” and more IT pros were concerned with more traditional cybersecurity issues. 

Traditional cybersecurity concerns during pandemic

  • 40% on phishing or other malicious emails

  • 40% on insecure Wi-Fi 

  • 28% on BYOD devices 

Despite the known vulnerabilities and proven authentication technologies, there are lapses and security can be prey.

Image: Sectigo/Wakefield

What companies are using to combat cybersecurity

  • 56% employed user-identity certificates

  • 26% used biometrics

Concern for widely known weakness in cybersecurity

  • 65% focused on username and password

  • 50% used hardware-token multifactor authentication

  • 72% of respondents credit their companies with “just the right amount” of cybersecurity

  • 93%  may undertake additional measures to improve security and business continuity in the next 12 months due to widespread remote work

  • 59% indicated that they would increase security for data and applications, compared to the pre-COVID-19 level, once offices are reopened

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Get better performance out your productivity apps with Windows 10 Game Mode


Windows 10 Game Mode can devote considerably more resources to any application, not just games. But only if you follow the proper steps to activate and apply it.

Image: NicoElNino, Getty Images/iStockphoto

Throughout the personal computer’s relatively brief history, power users have continually searched for tricks and tweaks that will squeeze more performance out of their PCs. But one simple trick to increase the performance of a PC running Microsoft Windows 10 may have escaped their notice—treating important everyday applications like they are games.

Windows 10 Game Mode, when activated, will devote considerably more resources to an application, turn off notifications, and shutdown or slowdown most background activities, thus improving performance and establishing a consistent user exerpience. CPU stealing background apps like file indexing, feature updates, and malware scans will have to wait while you get some work done.

This how-to tutorial shows you how to activate Windows 10 Game Mode and then how to apply it to your productivity applications to increase performance.

SEE: Why your organization needs a BYOD policy (TechRepublic Premium)

Get better performance with Windows 10 Game Mode

Some powerful PCs may have enough resources to cover your productivity applications and whatever background apps are running, but less-powerful personal computers may need to compensate with a few tweaks. Activating Windows 10 Game Mode is the first step.

SEE: Windows 10 Start menu hacks (TechRepublic Premium)

Click or tap the Start Menu button in the lower left-hand corner of the Windows 10 desktop and select the gear icon to open the Settings menu. Click the Gaming section to open the Xbox Game Bar Settings menu and then select Game Mode from the left-hand navigation bar, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

Switch the Game Mode button to On and then exit.

With Game Mode on, you can use the Windows 10 Game Bar overlay. Open one of your productivity applications. For our example, we will use Microsoft Word. Use the keyboard combination Windows Key + G to open the overlay, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B

As you can see, the Game Bar is already monitoring some of the performance parameters of your PC. Click the gear icon on the center navigation bar to open the Settings screen of the overlay. Under the General tab you will see a setting labeled “Remember this is a game,” click the checkbox next to it, as shown in Figure C.

Figure C

Click the mouse anywhere not on the overlay or use the keyboard combination Windows Key + G again to close the Game Bar.

Now, whenever you open Word, Windows 10 will allocate resources and turn off background applications like you are running a resource-hogging game, which should translate to better Word performance. You can follow this tweak for any application, even something you use every day like a web browser.

A caveat

There is one caveat to be aware of, however. There are reports that some games actually lose performance levels with Windows 10 Game Mode activated. Apparently, there is a conflict with the way the games are coded versus the way Windows 10 and Microsoft expect them to be coded. Patches for Windows 10 and/or the games will likely be necessary. The impacted games work better with Game Mode off.

SEE: Cheat sheet: Windows 10 PowerToys (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

If you find the general performance of one or more of your productivity applications decreases after activating Windows 10 Game Mode, turn it off to see if that improves your results. Just reverse the process shown above and always keep in mind that not all performance tweaks work the same for everybody.

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