- ‘What comes next’ will be a hybrid workplace strategy that sees people splitting their work week between the home, a central office, and possibly a third workplace.
- With employees working from two or more locations each week, how do you manage that transition from a tech perspective?
- According to research from Gartner (2020), 52% of compliance leaders said that third-party cybersecurity breaches were their biggest concern due to remote work.
2021 could be the year we navigate our way out of the pandemic. Fuelled by fresh optimism, companies and workspace operators alike are considering what happens next.
For many, ‘what comes next’ will be a hybrid workplace strategy that sees people splitting their work week between the home, a central office, and possibly a third workplace.
This level of flexibility and choice over where and how to work offers huge benefits for employees, and the corresponding engagement and productivity is equally beneficial for employers.
But (and there is always a ‘but’) what does this mean for data security?
With employees working from two or more locations each week, how do you manage that transition from a tech perspective?
The workplace has changed, for better or worse, and what workers need now is far different from what they needed just 12 months ago.
“For one thing, they want a touchless experience in the workplace,” said Jeremy Bernard, CEO North America at essensys, speaking during a webinar hosted by GCUC in March 2021.
“The new normal is going to be a lot more than the four walls of just one office. People are looking at working from home, working from a coworking space in their local community, and going back to work in the HQ.”
For those that aren’t prepared, this poses logistical challenges.
“Security is even more important now. It’s key not just for Fortune 500 companies but for people who want to work in a third place. They’re hopping around. Security, privacy, and data protection is critical.”
The move to flexible space
During the webinar, ‘The Move to Flex and What You Need to Know’, the panel discussed how companies of all sizes – particularly large corporate firms that would normally opt for traditional leases — are shifting to flexible space.
For flexible space operators, attracting enterprise level members is an exciting opportunity.
But the challenge comes when these clients expect watertight security measures, and with competition between flex providers accelerating as landlords increasingly provide more flexible, short-term workplace options, companies that can’t get the level of security they expect will simply head over the street to another competitor.
Indeed, according to research from Gartner (2020), 52% of compliance leaders said that third-party cybersecurity breaches were their biggest concern due to remote work.
“We’re in the middle of a digital transformation,” said Bernard, noting that it’s crucial now that the technology experience aligns with members’ expectations.
“They want to be able to open up their laptops in their home, in a coworking space, or in the HQ, and not have to worry about multiple log-ins or privacy or data issues; they just want to be able to get to work. That’s an important part of the equation.”
Workers want to make sure they have the ease of moving from one space to the next, wherever that space may be, and be able to connect and continue working seamlessly.
Of course, this need has always been there. It’s the fundamental requirement of mobile workers, digital nomads, freelance and gig workers, and in fact anyone who works from more than one desk.
But it’s not just about security.
Touchless tech for safer working
After the past year, it’s understandable that workers have a new set of requirements for their workplace: touchless tech.
This goes for every workplace, not just the main HQ.
Workers want to be able to physically enter the building, access their workspace, use lifts and devices, work, and book meeting rooms – all without coming into physical contact with normally high-touch surfaces. They want to be able to do all these things via their smartphone, and it’s up to the workspace operator – and the landlord – to make it happen.
Again, if they don’t, occupiers will vote with their feet.
Research collated by Instant Offices shows just how heavily the current situation is weighing on our minds, with various tech innovations being adopted or adapted to make the workplace safer and more hygienic.
According to an Adobe Voice Survey, 86% of people believe that voice tech is one solution that would make the office more sanitary, while 77% expected to use this tech more frequently in the next year.
Some companies are using sensors to accommodate physical distancing. These sensors can enable one-way circulation patterns in hallways and communal areas, as well as monitor occupancy and send alerts when too many people are together in a space.
John Williams, Head of Marketing at The Instant Group, said: “For one of our managed offices in Singapore, we delivered a self-learning solution that optimises and regulates internal air conditioning using IOT sensors.”
Quality air ventilation enables a safer working environment, but there are other benefits too.
“The system allows real-time information around temperature, CO2, VOC’s and humidity, all while optimising performance and power consumption. This has proven to deliver savings of between 20 and 38% for the HVAC electrical consumption alone.”
After a year of remote working, in which many companies had to scramble to provide appropriate mobile devices and secure networks for their suddenly-home-based workforce, there is no ‘carry on as before’.
Workers want and expect a far different experience now than they did just 12 months ago.
The workplace has changed, for better or worse. It’s a change that’s set to last – and tech innovation is at the heart of it.