Security and culture biggest challenges of shift to hybrid work

06 September 2021 Consultancy.uk 2 min. read
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With companies having to scale from office to home working for over a year, a hybridised way of working has had plenty of time to crystalise. That does not mean there have not been problems with the shift, however, and security concerns in particular remain.

Coeus Consulting’s annual CIO and IT Leadership Survey has surveyed 138 organisations to discover how IT leaders have responded the realities of working in the pandemic. Unsurprisingly perhaps, the study found that one of the chief concerns of IT departments during this period was data security.

The lockdown brought in to fight the Covid-19 pandemic saw companies become more reliant on decentralised digital operation systems than ever before – something many of them were not prepared for in terms of becoming exposed to cyber-attacks. As criminals targeted companies involved in the UK’s coronavirus response, such as outsourcing firm Interserve, experts warned that organisations are likely to be targeted by hackers more than ever, as they seek to exploit the chaos of the on-going crisis.

Cross-sector survey of 138 senior IT leaders in October

More than anything else, 54% of professionals agreed security was a key challenge, given the shift to digital exposed businesses to greater cyber-threats. This was well ahead of the governance, regulatory, compliance issues that concerned 44% of respondents. With working from home looking set to continue in some form for the majority of the UK workforce, these concerns have continued into post-lockdown working life. This presents new problems.

Worryingly, while IT departments were able to put a band-aid over data security in what they thought was a short-term fix, bottlenecks in company culture may inhibit attempts to address these concerns over a longer-term scenario. In this context, Coeus argued that organisations should now be reflecting on how well they were resourced and skilled in adapting to remote work during lockdown, and using those lessons learnt to help scale longer term changes in the way IT operates.

“One thing is certain,” noted the firm. “IT’s importance in enabling a more permanent shift in working culture and consumer behaviour has been made clear. Now that the entire workforce of many companies has scaled from office to home working, and potentially settled on a hybrid model, it is time to reflect on key challenges and how to ensure they are addressed as we move forward.”

Following this, Coeus recommended three action points for companies to begin this journey. They should begin by closely examining end-to-end (E2E) internal processes, procedures, tools and culture and start to identify the changes that will be required to enable a fully flexible and agile workforce for the future. At the same time, they should develop a people, tooling and communications strategy to enable a more co-ordinated and planned effort for change, and a new working culture. Finally, they should continue reviewing and aligning security policy and governance frameworks to enable a more flexible, secure and resilient remote working environment.