According to Gartner 2022 trends, 75% of hybrid or remote knowledge workers agree that their expectations for working flexibly have risen. An analyst in the report believes that if an organisation were to go back to a full on-site arrangement, it would risk losing up to 39% of its workforce.
The future of the workplace is not limited to office premises and needs to be planned for hybrid scenarios with a distributed workforce. The Dutch Parliament, for example, has approved legislation to establish work-from-home as a legal right, making the Netherlands one of the first countries to grant remote working flexibility by law. In India too, with a 99% increase in Work from Home jobs, the hybrid work model is here to stay.
Organisations are increasingly relying on technology to facilitate their remote employees, engage with them and provide them with a secure workplace. In the new hybrid work model, streamlining and securing the workplace is one of the biggest pushes and this involves technology, people, and processes. Businesses, therefore, need to transition from their current remote working models to a truly cohesive hybrid work solution that enables seamless and secure workplace experiences.
Many of businesses need to relook at their current perimeter-centric workplace security models and move towards an edge-centric model leveraging AI/ML-powered cognitive solutions to detect and protect identity, endpoints, network, apps, and data.
The role of the workforce is very critical in this transition. Businesses must emphasise on digital enablement to support employee engagement, experience, and learning. With the rapid emergence of the start-up ecosystem, majority of the young gig workforce, most of whom are frontline workers from tier 1 and tier 2 cities, have limited knowledge of digital asset security and privacy and the impact of mishandling information. Hence, it becomes an imperative to increase awareness around information security and privacy.
Enabling the secure hybrid workplace foundation
The hybrid work models are not devoid of practical challenges – both on the business as well as the technology front. Businesses need to reimagine their Digital Workplace foundations to enable a borderless collaboration across devices accessing organizational resources confidently with no or minimal security risks. It is not easy to bridge the gap with a legacy IT capability.
Enhancing the workplace experience needs digital transformation of the underlying IT infrastructure related to identity, devices, apps, network, security policies, compliance and privacy leveraging the principles of secure by design. Embracing a zero-trust mindset for a perimeter-less hybrid ecosystem ensures a future-ready secure workplace.
A secure hybrid workplace foundation needs a secure or verifiable identity, and a robust threat defender to secure all devices or entry points, be it laptops, mobiles, IoTs, wearables or just browsers, while integrating all business apps with information protection for any data loss prevention. The foundation also requires implementing security controls that are centrally managed to correlate security incidents, reduce risks and improve compliance and privacy. On the long term, leveraging concepts like cybersecurity mesh architecture (CSMA) can help enhance security policy standardization and intelligence. Businesses can take advantage of AI and automation as a force multiplier to improve efficiencies and experiences.
Readying the workforce
Employees are often the weak links in an organisation’s cybersecurity posture. According to a report, two of the top attack vectors in data breaches – accounting for 35% of total reported data breaches – include stolen or compromised credentials and phishing. Afterall, hackers launch an average of 50 million password attacks every day targeting end users.
To sidestep such human errors, often the Achilles’ heel of cybersecurity, businesses need to build an informed and proactive workforce with periodic and mandatory security trainings. As organizations recognize that security needs to be everyone’s job, they need to continuously create awareness around security, best practices and cultivate a safety-first culture across the board. Apart from cybersecurity best practices, these training initiatives should also focus on industry- or region-specific data compliance and regulatory guidelines. Upskilling existing talent in the organization to improve its cybersecurity posture also becomes important with India facing a severe shortage in cybersecurity skills.
A safety-first culture is the way forward
It is imperative for modern enterprises to design employee-centric workplaces that attract next generation talent. Therefore, businesses must capitalize on the power of technology to create a secure hybrid workplace foundation that enables employees to interact efficiently and relentlessly drive home to its workforce the need of cultivating a safety-first culture and their responsibilities.