As a rise in variants spurs new uncertainties around the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses around the globe are tasked with developing a long-term plan and work model—whether in-person, remote, or hybrid—that meets the needs of employees and the business. Amid this transition, Entrust, a provider of trusted identity, payments, and data protection solutions, set out to uncover what is needed to secure the world’s hybrid workplaces in its new data study, “Securing the New Hybrid Workplace.”
Entrust surveyed 1,500 business leaders and 1,500 general employees from 10 countries to better understand how workers from the manager level to the C-suite are preparing for a new hybrid workplace. Key findings include:
Hybrid is here to stay, but security concerns are high: The overwhelming majority of respondent companies are moving to a long-term hybrid workplace approach. In fact, 80% of leaders and 75% of employees said their company is currently using a hybrid model or is fully remote and considering a hybrid work model. But, 54% of employees reported up to six instances of lost productivity due to network access issues, and leaders cite home internet security (21%) and leakage of sensitive company data (20%) among their top security challenges.
Visitor management is an in-office priority: Having a detailed record of who has been in and out of a company’s office is a larger priority in 2021. According to the survey, 96% of business leaders and 93% of employees agree that it is important for their company to have a system in place that logs and tracks visitors who enter and exit the building when employees work in the office.
Home office data security presents new challenges: Businesses need to change their data security approach now that employees are more decentralized than ever before. However, while data security is a priority for leaders, with 81% saying their company has offered employees training on it, only 61% of employees said their company offers this training, indicating a communication gap.
“With the uncertainties of the last year and a half, many organizations are well adapted to remote work,” said Anudeep Parhar, Chief Information Officer at Entrust. “With leaders planning the future state of their workplace models, we wanted to ask how they are adapting security and identity for the hybrid workplace: How are leaders and employees prepared to protect data and sensitive information? How will office security evolve? Will adapting to hybrid workplaces multiply vulnerabilities, or will enterprises choose smart security strategies to enable employees wherever they work?”
Parhar added, “With the study overwhelmingly indicating the desire of 91 percent of employees to work in a hybrid model moving forward, this data study provides businesses insight about how to democratize work from anywhere and incorporate security practices into their hybrid approach by working with companies like Entrust to implement solutions such as passwordless and biometric authentication, mobile identity verification, and more.”
Perfecting the Hybrid Work Model
There is no question employers are leaning into a clear desire among employees for hybrid work options, with 68% saying they are considering hiring talent that resides in geographically diverse locations. For employers following this trend and hiring employees in a new, hybrid environment, there are several ways to improve and secure the onboarding process.
The study found business leaders are improving training methods (53%), rolling out new or improved collaboration tools (47%), and implementing mobile ID issuance for remote employees. Furthermore, leaders are taking steps to maintain internal security as they incorporate a hybrid model, with 51% rolling out one-time password technology, 40% utilizing biometric authentication, and 36% using mobile identity verification, citing the desire to stay ahead of hackers and protect their internal data.
Maintaining and Enhancing Security in the Office Environment
As companies start bringing workers back to the office, the ongoing pandemic raises the stakes of physical security to include health, safety, and infosecurity. For example, companies must consider best practices when they begin to open their doors to visitors outside their internal workforce once more. Entrust found support for organizational visitor management is overwhelming, with 96% of business leaders and 93% of employees agreeing that it is important for their company to have a system in place that logs and tracks visitors who enter and exit the building when employees work in the office.
With this in mind, companies will begin paying more attention to who’s going in and out of the office building. Reasons for this enhanced scrutiny of visitors is primarily due to caution surrounding COVID-19, with 83% of leaders and 84% of employees citing the risk of spreading COVID-19 as the top reason it is important to have a system in place that manages and tracks guests. Other reasons included protecting confidential information (65% of leaders and 55% of employees) and avoiding physical harm to employees (61% of leaders and 62% of employees).
Merging Data Security with Work-from-Home Standards
Business leaders also agree that it is imperative to consider the intersection of data security and work-from-home standards. Fortunately, it appears that the introduction of hybrid work has resulted in a step in the right direction for workplace data protection. In fact, while 81% of leaders said their company has offered employees training on data security, the overwhelming majority (86%) said it was offered as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, indicating a trend toward enhanced data security.
However, while leaders are offering this training, only 61% of employees said their company offers this training, indicating a communication gap between leadership and their employees. By communicating these trainings to employees, leaders can help reduce the risk of security threats, including phishing and ransomware attacks.
A Global View
Although the “Securing the New Hybrid Workplace” data study takes a holistic look at the top trends of hybrid work across 10 nations, some individual countries presented data that is particularly intriguing. Some top findings of key international trends and takeaways include:
- 65% of employers in Japan say they have offered data security training for the hybrid work model, but only 36% of employees agree, indicating a potential gap in communication or training execution.
- Businesses in Saudi Arabia (89%) and the United Arab Emirates (87%) are by far the most willing to consider hiring talent that resides anywhere in the world. Businesses in the United States and Singapore are the next most likely to hire talent anywhere in the world, both with 73% of leaders indicating they would be willing to hire global talent.
- Businesses in Indonesia are particularly likely to implement cutting-edge security technologies into their business practices, with 75% of employers saying they have utilized one-time passwords and 69% indicating they utilize biometric authentication.
- Of the countries surveyed, respondents from Germany indicated the lowest productivity impact due to network access or login delays, with 49% reporting that they have never had an issue and 27% reporting only 1-3 incidents. By comparison, in the United Kingdom, only 25% reported no issues, with 34% reporting 1-3 incidents.
More information about the Entrust study is available here.