Ready or not, the hybrid workplace has finally arrived. That means employers are just starting to discover the gaps in their ability to accommodate workers, wherever they may be.
“The digital transformation that happened over the past two years is just mind-blowing,” said Rafi Wanounou, an information security professional with Fortinet, at a recent ITWC briefing. “I don’t think anyone expected the shift to global work from anywhere to happen this fast.”
The hybrid office – – where workers may choose to work from the office or remotely – – will likely endure in the future, according to Wanounou. However, the technology is behind what workers want to do. That’s leaving some critical gaps that must be filled by organizations,” he said.
Wanounou shared ten hybrid workplace trends for employers to consider.
Securing the hybrid office
- There will be no data stored on devices. All access to corporate information and apps will be browser based. With a growing number of laptops in remote places, organizations can no longer have critical information at risk if laptops are lost or stolen, said Wanounou. “This is going to be a difficult transition because people are used to having data on their devices,” he added.
- Tokens will be used to access devices, not passwords. Passwords are too weak to protect corporate information, said Wanounou. “Tokens are actually the only thing that’s resistant to social engineering and other kinds of frauds,” he said.
- Automate security management. There is a push to automate security operations because the volume of alerts has exceeded the ability of human beings to respond, said Wanounou. “I think there is a lot of nefarious activity after hours that is just being missed right now,” he said
- Update acceptable use policies. Is it wrong to play poker on your device at lunch time? “Executives are really worried about the enterprise risks posed by the increased use of the same device for personal and professional reasons,” said Wanounou.
The changing world of IT support
- Eliminate corporate standard devices. Wanounou noted that organizations in Europe are setting up internal retail stores so that employees can choose what devices they want to use.
- Manage devices globally. “How do you provide a laptop to your new employee in Oslo, Norway?” asked Wanounou. Employers who embrace work from anywhere must solve this problem.
- Around the clock support. IT teams are not traditionally organized to provide service at any time to support different time zones or work habits. This will have to change, said Wanounou.
Reimagine the office
- Repurpose existing office space. Wanounou anticipates that about 50 per cent of leased office space won’t be used in the future. However, he noted that some companies are converting the space for special project teams or for social gatherings to help maintain corporate culture.
- Smart scheduling. Wanounou envisions new AI-powered scheduling tools that will help determine the best place for employees to meet based on their locations and traffic information.
- Monitoring productivity. To keep a closer eye on productivity metrics, Wanounou expects that new AI tools will be developed to monitor how people spend their work time. A tool to scrape social media and to monitor calls, meetings and emails can “put together a picture of what you’re doing all day,” he said.
“I think the next decade or so of hybrid work is going to be challenging,” said Wanounou. He advises employees to make sure that they define their processes and look to a new generation of IT staff to manage the evolving work environment.