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Hybrid work: opportunities and challenges

The international study “Securing the New Hybrid Workplace” by Entrust shows that 91 percent of employees prefer hybrid work environments, but see difficulties with security and productivity. […]

Today, employees are working more decentralized than ever before, which is why companies have to adapt their data security concepts. (c) Unsplash

The emergence of new variables is leading to new skepticism for companies regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Now it’s about developing a long-term plan – a business model that meets the needs of both employees and management. No matter if these are office or home office workplaces or mixed concepts. In its study “The New Hybrid Workplace Insurance,” Entrust specifically examines requirements for insurance for hybrid workplaces.

1,500 managers and 1,500 employees from 10 countries were interviewed for the study. The results show how employees, from management to entry level, are preparing for a new business model.

The main results of the study

  • Hybrid work models are growing in popularity, despite major security concerns: The vast majority of companies are moving to the concept of a hybrid workplace in the long run. 80 percent of executives and 75 percent of employees say their company is currently taking a hybrid approach — or working entirely remotely and considering a hybrid business model. However, 54 percent of employees reported significant productivity losses due to network access issues. Executives cite poor home network security (21 percent) and the loss of sensitive company data (20 percent) as their biggest concerns.
  • Visitor management is of great importance: Detailed records of who came and went to offices will be a high priority in 2021. 96 percent of managers and 93 percent of employees consider having a system to record and monitor the movement of visitors during working hours.
  • Data security in the home office brings new challenges: Today’s employees are working more decentralized than ever before, which is why companies have to adapt their data security concepts. But while 81 percent of executives say their company has provided data security training to its employees, only 61 percent of employees notice — indicating a significant communication gap.
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“In light of the great uncertainties that have characterized the world of work for about a year and a half, many companies have adapted to remote work. As it is now about planning for future business models, we wanted to know how to adapt IT security and identity management for hybrid workplaces: how prepared How will office security concepts evolve further?” said Xavier Coemelck, regional vice president of sales and services at Entrust. Will hybrid businesses multiply vulnerabilities or will companies choose smart security strategies that enable them to streamline operations, no matter where her job?

Mastering the hybrid business model

There is no doubt that employers are responding to the desire of their employees for hybrid forms of work. Also, 68 percent of respondents said they are considering hiring new talent working in different geographic locations. New capabilities are needed to secure and improve setup and identification processes in a mixed business environment.

The study showed that department heads are improving their training methods (53 percent) and introducing new collaboration tools (47 percent). In addition, in connection with the introduction of hybrid business models, managers take measures to control the company’s IT security. 51 percent (36 percent) implement one-time password technologies, 40 percent use biometric authentication and 36 percent use phone identity verification to stay one step ahead of hackers and protect internal data.

Security in the office environment

In times of the ongoing pandemic, in addition to physical and IT security, companies must also include the health of their employees in the workplace as part of their precautionary measures. The study by Entrust shows tremendous support for overall visitor management within organizations: 96 percent of managers and 93 percent of employees support a system that records and controls visitors within an office building.

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The reasons for this increased desire for control by visitors are primarily due to caution regarding COVID-19. 83 percent of managers and 84 percent of employees cite the risk of spreading COVID-19 as the most important reason for creating a visitor management system. Other reasons are protecting confidential information—65 percent (43 percent) of managers and 55 percent of employees—as well as avoiding physical harm—61 percent of managers and 62 percent of employees.

Data security and home work

For a long time, it has been difficult to reconcile working from home with company-wide data protection guidelines. Here, pandemic-related actions appear to have taken a step in the right direction: 81 percent of managers mentioned that their company has provided employee training in data security — for the overwhelming majority, this has happened as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the help of training, companies can drastically reduce the risk of security threats such as phishing and ransomware attacks, which take advantage of the lack of awareness of those they deal with.

Unfortunately, only 61 percent of employees were aware that their company had provided data security training – indicating a lack of communication in this area.

global perspective

In an international comparison, study results from individual countries are particularly interesting. According to the study authors, the top international trends and findings include:

  • 65 percent of employers in Japan agreed that they provided data security training for the hybrid business model. But only 36 percent of workers agree, indicating potential problems with providing training.
  • Companies in Saudi Arabia (89 percent) and the United Arab Emirates (87 percent) are most willing to consider talent from around the world for job vacancies. Followed by companies in the United States and Singapore. In each case, 73 percent of managers stated that they could imagine hiring new employees regardless of their location.
  • Companies in Indonesia are particularly likely to incorporate the latest security technologies into their existing business processes: 75 percent of employers report using one-time passwords, and 69 percent use biometric authentication methods.
  • Among the countries examined, respondents from Germany reported the lowest productivity loss due to delays in accessing the network or logging in. Forty-nine percent of those questioned confirmed they had never had a problem, and 27 percent reported one to three incidents in the past 12 months. By comparison, in the UK, only 25 percent reported no problems and 34 percent reported one to three accidents.
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