Ivanti: The key to a successful remote and hybrid workplace

By Helen Masters
Companies with large preference gaps—particularly among hard-to-hire positions—will continue to face difficulty attracting and retaining talent
Helen Masters, EVP and General Manager, International Sales at Ivanti, details the key to a successful and productive remote/hybrid workplace

Sensing some tension at the office water cooler? You’re not alone. It’s no secret that there is a massive divide between knowledge workers and leaders when it comes to preferences for workplace models. In a large recent study of global knowledge workers, 71% said they want the freedom to work from home and/or choose which days they come into the office. And yet, only 43% of respondents are actually allowed to do so.

That 28-point preference gap signals a significant problem. When you’re frustrated about where, when and how you’re allowed to work, it’s hard to be at your most productive. This restriction also impacts turnover. “Companies with large preference gaps—particularly among hard-to-hire positions—will continue to face difficulty attracting and retaining talent,” the survey report concludes.

Just two years ago, mid-pandemic, there was a lot of energy around a new, seemingly permanent remote/hybrid work landscape. That energy has waned significantly. As of this writing, 41% of leaders have called knowledge workers back into the office full-time. And just 3% of knowledge workers can truly work from anywhere they want.

Why leaders aren’t closing the preference gap

Meanwhile, leaders have a litany of reasons to restrict choice-based hybrid schedules. The overarching concern often comes down to a perceived lack of control. For generations, presence has been inextricably tied to performance. When you can’t see people working, it can be hard to believe that they are working.

Concerns over control extend beyond worker productivity. A remote and hybrid workplace can be a breeding ground for cyberattacks due to the dispersed assets operating on varied networks and beyond an office perimeter. That’s a very serious—and fully legitimate—cause for concern. 

Virtual work does create the potential for additional security risks. According to the same survey, 36% of organisations utilising remote/hybrid work have seen an increase in non-approved devices accessing the network. More than one-quarter (26%) experience an uptick in shadow IT, which is the phenomenon of workers using their preferred tools and applications even when those tools and apps aren’t sanctioned or monitored by the IT team. And 20% report an increase in missing or lost assets. Remote and hybrid work can also fuel IT burnout if IT doesn’t have the right support.

Clearly, remote/hybrid work carries risks. But is mandating in-office work the answer? That carries its own risks to turnover, productivity and the employee experience. More than seven in ten (71%) of leaders admit that remote work positively impacts morale, and 74% of employees say they’re more productive now than in the pre-2020 butts-in-seats office culture.

Fortunately, this isn’t an either/or scenario. The key takeaway: security and hybrid workplaces aren’t mutually exclusive. 

How security and remote/hybrid work can co-exist

The big problem occurs when leaders apply in-office attitudes around security to a hybrid workplace. A different model demands different security.

Fortunately, comprehensive, cloud-to-edge security platforms have evolved so much in the last few years, that even companies with no interest in going remote or hybrid are adopting security plans built for “Everywhere Work.”

Why? Because even if you require 100% of your employees to be in the office 100% of the time, we live in a digital, mobile-first world. Devices will come home. Devices will end up on vacation, or in the hands of a child. We are no longer living and working behind a perimeter. And the sooner we adjust our approach to security accordingly, the better off we’ll all be.

The right security solution will find and manage any asset, regardless of where it is, who is using it, and even when it’s powered off. Advanced zero trust network solutions are an increasingly popular option because they assume bad actors are always on the network. This type of solution not only controls who can get in the proverbial door, but also what they can do once they’re inside.

What comprehensive, end-to-end security can do

Today, you can equip your entire team with a seamless solution that runs, barely detectable, in the background. Rather than inhibiting productivity, leading-edge solutions enhance productivity. They also:

  • Help curb the temptation to use shadow IT.
  • Help facilitate easy access for the right people on the right applications at the right time.
  • Can facilitate connection, communication and collaboration for enhanced productivity and accountability. 
  • Can prioritise security threats based on risk, and remediate automatically, lightening the burden on IT and security.
  • May be able to self-heal and self-service endpoints so users don’t have to waste downtime or spend hours trying to work through the problem remotely with IT. (IT appreciates this, too.)

The list goes on and on. I couldn’t agree more that if you’re still securing your workforce like they’re in the office, it’s incredibly dangerous to shift to remote and hybrid.

But that’s not an excuse to stay the course.

Given the contemporary threat landscape, everyone should be making the shift to a comprehensive, end-to-end solution.

If you still believe an in-office landscape is right for your organisation, more power to you. Remote and hybrid aren’t right for everyone. But you can mitigate if not entirely eliminate, the excuse of security. And you may be able to eliminate the excuse of productivity, too.

More secure; more automated; intuitive and seamless for end users; and easier to manage IT and security. For me, those are more than enough reasons to close the preference gap. What do you think?


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