The events of 2020 have undoubtedly challenged pre-existing concepts about the way we work, and prompted many businesses to reflect on their remote working policy.
According to a recent survey from the British Council for Offices (BCO), most office workers don’t want to return to the office five days a week when the pandemic is over; with the majority planning on splitting their time between the workplace and home.
This hybrid working model, with a mixture of in office and remote working is expected to become the norm for many businesses.
With this in mind, we have outlined some of the technical challenges associated with hybrid working and some tools that could help bridge the work-home gap.
Technology and ‘mixed reality’
As many of us found when we started working remotely last year, there is already a wealth of relatively simple tools designed available to help with the process.
Almost overnight, Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet became an essential part of the ‘new normal’ but as employers begin to look ahead there is going to be an inevitable shift towards newer technology and collaboration tools that promise an element of ‘mixed reality’ - where staff are able to interact in the same way whether together in the office or at home - to increase productivity, engagement and maintain relationships.
How businesses can make the shift to this new software, without causing too much disruption and upsetting the careful working balance that has developed since March, is something that is going to become increasingly important as we move forward.
We know that this shift to hybrid working presents a number of challenges for those in digital and IT roles, not only will they have to adopt a new approach to working but have found themselves having to manage an increased workload.
In addition to their normal responsibilities, they need to consider a range of additional security factors, including staff using personal devices, increased data breaches and phishing attacks.
It is inevitable that businesses will look to implement new technologies to help manage these risks in a hybrid work environment.
But this shift can bring with it its own set of security challenges and it is vital that businesses identify potential risks before introducing new technology. As Mike Stentonas, Chief Technology Officer at cyber security company CrowdStrike, told the FT, he has seen businesses try and roll out systems and platforms over the course of a weekend that should take six months to plan, research and test - risking the cyber security architecture.
Accessing and storing information
How information is accessed and stored is a technical challenge for businesses looking to implement a hybrid working model.
With staff working from home and some using personal devices, it is difficult to ensure that the same level of security and privacy is maintained.
Research carried out by security firm Tessian found that since the start of the pandemic it has become increasingly common to see company information and files sent and shared between personal email accounts.
In the same survey, the IT professionals asked said they were worried about remote employees not understanding the risks of connecting to unprotected networks - with 58% of employees admitted to considering or already having connected to public wi-fi.
It is clear that additional training is required to make sure that employees understand the risks associated with remote working and the importance of ensuring information is being stored and shared in the most secure ways possible.
Ultimately, the hybrid model is going to mark a shift away from traditional office-based working and therefore some challenges are to be expected. Over time, businesses will be able to educate their employees about the potential security risks of hybrid working and digital and IT professionals will become better equipped to manage technical challenges.
The increased flexibility afforded by hybrid working provides a fantastic opportunity to reconsider previous recruitment practices and consider recruiting talent from further afield.
Article written by Adam Burgess, from Sellick Partnership.