If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that remote working is here to stay - whether or not businesses are prepared. Hybrid working seems to be the future of our work reality. With this being solidified over the last few months of the pandemic, there are necessary steps businesses must take in order to ensure that home-working is just as secure and seamless as working within an office. Members convened virtually for an event in partnership with Zscaler, to discuss the challenges of adapting culturally and technically to this new world.
ALIGNING SECURITY AND USER EXPERIENCE
“What comes next?” was an apt question to kick off the morning. It seems to be the most asked question at the moment, particularly when it comes to the future of the office. Eight months into this pandemic, companies can no longer rely on a quick-fix technology solution to home working. So what are the biggest challenges that organisations face in this area, and how can we overcome them? As Nathan Howe, Head of Transformation Strategy at Zscaler illustrated, there are many elements that go into secure home-working.
Nathan outlined the three main questions that accompany a digital transformation to remote working:
- How do you ensure connectivity?
- Where are your controls applied?
- How much does this cost you?
In terms of solutions, cloud and mobility are the powerful enablers of this transformation. There is a new connectivity layer that is now at scale for the cloud access to the internet to become a true corporate network. The cloud is also generally the new destination, and this new destination is not necessarily because of the pandemic. It has more to do with the fact that people are consuming services outside the enterprise boundaries and IT is becoming more commoditised. Nathan’s three key takeaways when it comes to a successful digital transformation project for remote working were:
- User experience
- Champion the change
Firstly, user experience is paramount, because if end users are not comfortable with the new implementation it can cause friction in the transition to remote working. User-experience needs to front of mind in these scenarios. Following from that, trust is also incredibly important and must be repeatedly validated in order to ensure security. Finally, championing the change is important in order to succeed in the all-important shift of culture. You have to be the primary backer of your digital transformation in order for end users to adopt it. It is no longer something that needs to be “good enough” it needs to be something that “works excellently”.
Laurence Dale, the CISO of Essentra, then explained to members his experience with the considerations for working-from-anywhere. Laurence explained that there needs to be a balance between user experience and risk exposure. Getting that balance right is vital to a successful remote working environment. He outlined the key considerations as:
- Addressing all the considerations with user education
- Getting the basics right
- Stable architecture
- Adapted processes
- Improved tooling
All these elements need to work together in order to deliver that all-important balance of security and user experience. Most notably, improved tooling, something that has been implemented rapidly due to COVID-19, that has that high quality user experience as well as the added element of security.
LESSONS LEARNT: CHALLENGES AND SOLUTIONS
Members then broke off into two discussion areas, the first focusing on delivering new business priorities and the second outlining steps to lasting transformation.
In the first discussion group, members focused on the main lessons for their organisations from the past year. Namely, that this crisis has forced employees to learn how to be secure and be more aware of the risks that come with remote working. According to members, this is the main hurdle to overcome when transitioning to remote working environments. It is important to ensure that employees are able to access the same sensitive work as they did in the office before, within the remote environment. In terms of the culture shift, some members mentioned the importance of consciously managing work. Management can no longer be a passive act, as it was when everyone was together in an office. This is another organisational hurdle to overcome with the new work reality.
In the second discussion area, there were numerous takeaways with regards to what businesses and employees can expect from this new work reality moving forward. Most notably, the importance of visibility and the impact it has on the speed and productivity of employees’ work. Visibility will become increasingly important when moving into a hybrid world, where the office will be solely for collaboration rather than singular tasks that can be carried out remotely. Collaboration is the other important aspect with regards to how to foster effective collaboration both in a remote and hybrid world. Members expressed that the cloud and the new tools being used more widely now are the answers to this. Finally, there was a discussion around fostering innovation around improved connectivity. Members examined the implications of home-working: it has given businesses the chance to really experiment with new tools and technologies and see how they can be incorporated into regular working practices.
In general, the consensus among members was that security is a crucial aspect of remote working; however, it cannot compromise the need for a high quality user experience. Balancing the two is necessary along with all the important cultural shifts that need to take place. Security and privacy should be there by design, but at the end of the day, end users still need to get the job done.
This event was held in partnership with Zscaler, a global IT security company.
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