SANS 2020 Remote Worker Poll Shows Drastic Shift in Workplace Landscape

Most organizations reacted swiftly to the COVID-19 pandemic, enabling staff to work from home and implementing security measures to support a remote work environment.

Bethesda, Md. – The World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 pandemic on March 11, 2020 and organizations around the globe were forced to accelerate procedures to enable remote work for jobs that have traditionally been viewed as office jobs. Most companies responded quickly and were able to implement traditional workplace security measures to support a remote work environment, according to the results of the SANS 2020 Remote Worker Poll, which will be presented in a webcast on June 04.

“This poll showed that many companies were more prepared for remote work than most would think,” says Heather Mahalik, poll author, SANS analyst and Senior Instructor. “It's impressive that most were able to turn on the dime and enable their workers to support their current roles from a remote place when these roles typically occur in an office environment.”

Before the COVID-19 pandemic was declared, most of the workforce was not working from home, with 68% of poll respondents reporting that less than 30% of their workforce worked from home using computer access to resources. Of these, the majority (47%) reported that this was only 10% of their workforce. The pandemic creates a dramatic shift, however, with 82% of respondents now reporting that 80% or greater of their workforce is now working from home.

“Organizations need to consider that pandemics like this and other circumstances may arise that will force us to be home, and we must continue to work,” Mahalik says. “Safeguarding assets is paramount, and policies and procedures for access should be in place.”

Poll results show that companies that were able to adapt most quickly were those who were prepared by providing employees with take-home laptops and equipment for securely accessing data remotely, via VPN tunneling or other methods of access like multifactor authentication.

“We have shown during the COVID-19 pandemic that it is possible to perform technology positions at home, where this hasn't been commonplace,” Mahalik says. “An interesting aspect to consider is what the future may look like for security work. Will we be required to be back in the office full time? Does it make sense to enable a work-from-home option for employees?”

Explore the full poll results with SANS analyst and forensics expert Heather Mahalik during a webcast on Thursday, June 04, 2020 at 3:30 p.m. EDT (19:30 UTC), sponsored by ExtraHop, Infoblox, Menlo Security, and Pulse Secure, and hosted by SANS. Register to attend the webcast at

Those who register for the webcast will also receive access to the published results paper, also authored by Heather Mahalik.

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The SANS Institute was established in 1989 as a cooperative research and education organization. Today, SANS is the most trusted and, by far, the largest provider of cyber security training and certification to professionals in government and commercial institutions world-wide. Renowned SANS instructors teach more than 60 courses at in-person and virtual cyber security training events and on demand. GIAC, an affiliate of the SANS Institute, validates practitioner skills through more than 35 hands-on, technical certifications in cyber security. The SANS Technology Institute, a regionally accredited independent subsidiary, offers a master’s degree, graduate certificates, and an undergraduate certificate in cyber security. SANS Security Awareness, a division of SANS, provides organizations with a complete and comprehensive security awareness solution, enabling them to easily and effectively manage their ‘human’ cybersecurity risk. SANS also delivers a wide variety of free resources to the InfoSec community including consensus projects, research reports, webcasts, podcasts, and newsletters; it also operates the Internet's early warning system–the Internet Storm Center. At the heart of SANS are the many security practitioners, representing varied global organizations from corporations to universities, working together to support and educate the global information security community. (