UK organisations are twice as likely as their American counterparts to consider collaboration as one of the main benefits of distributed working according to a recent survey we conducted with over 400 IT & Security leaders. It’s worth noting that despite collaboration being an important benefit, it’s not surprising that employee morale was seen as the primary benefit, with 58.6% of those surveyed stating that morale was the main reason for providing employees with remote working options. Regardless, collaboration is hugely important to both employees and their employers.
Better collaboration is often aligned to the argument for needing to be in the office at least some of the time. At least it used to be. Director of Information Security and Research at Automox, Chris Hass, states in an article posted to The Enterprisers Project that, “Communication and collaboration can be difficult and frustrating for organisations with remote workforces.” However, he mentions that “remote work has in fact helped improve collaboration.” We know that collaboration is important, so the issue becomes finding ways to collaborate effectively whether we’re meeting someone online or in person.
“People were – and actually are – much better prepared to manage their IT than they realised.”Leigh Bentley, Mobile IT Expert, International Law Firm.
With technology playing such a large role today, it is possible to ‘almost’ do the same things in an online meeting as you can in a physical meeting room. You can see everyone’s faces in one place, and there are fun things that you can do, too, like making your ‘room’ look like an office with virtual whiteboards or even placing some virtual plants in the background if you like! There are areas to brainstorm, as well as different task management tools and reams of collaborative tech to help to enable this. It’s a case of figuring out what works best for your organisation.
Technology. Technology everywhere!
Talking of tech, though, most of the IT leaders who participated in our survey agreed that the biggest challenge in managing risk is with technology – namely, ensuring you have all of the right tools in place to adequately mitigate its impact. Almost a quarter of those polled revealed that their primary reason for advocating for a return to the office was to maintain a better corporate security posture.
Looking at the results from a regional perspective, UK IT & security leaders were 33% more likely than those in the US to be worried about the risks faced by remote workers.
And with the ‘border’ of control stretched to pretty much anywhere that someone wants to work, be it their home, local Starbucks, train, park, etc., it’s a lot tougher to control than if all employees – and their devices – were all sat together in one building. The short answer is that we need to adopt technologies that can cope without needing a defined perimeter, in other words when devices are using any network.
WFH, BYOD, WTF?
In a recent webinar we asked several IT professionals about their concerns around maintaining security on devices, resulting in some mixed opinions. One stated that “BYOD is good, but causes issues around support for IT, especially when it comes to mobile devices.”
There are lots of different issues associated with bringing your own device (BYOD), shadow IT, application support, security, visibility, control… the list goes on.
“We take the stance that if you have Internet we can set up a VPN as we use published desktops so majority of home devices will work”IT Professional, UK Law Firm.
Legacy or traditional VPNs have been stretched to their limits, being required to do so much more in this flexible working world where access everywhere to data has become a mission-critical part of everyone’s job. This has given rise to the popularity of zero-trust methodologies, which are being more widely adapted to provide secure remote access that protects employees and the organisation’s data.
Another London-based IT professional explained their approach. “We’re essentially telling people to have their devices on them all of the time, as a ball and chain. So, letting them install their own apps is a good trade-off. It’s all about looking after the data rather than the device itself.”
A common thread seems to be that whatever device options an organisation may have, or whatever applications they evaluate and select to enable digital collaboration and remote working, understanding and managing the use and security of data has become a pivotal factor in maintaining a good security posture.
If you’ve read this far, then thank you. If you’d like more information on the survey results, check out the full Future of Work report here and take this interactive quiz to see how your business compares.