You may have seen the headlines in recent weeks:
My company was behind some of these headlines because of a big survey we have led what we call the “everywhere workplace”. And data from that survey made it clear that the workplace everywhere is here to stay, with two-thirds of employees saying they would choose the option to work remotely rather than get a promotion.
Even if you’re sick of the headlines, here’s an angle you probably haven’t read yet:
As an employer, you should adopt a remote work policy even if you don’t have to. And if you do it right, this policy can provide a huge benefit and solve one of the biggest looming problems facing modern business.
What is this “impending problem” and what do we mean by “even if you don’t have to”? Maybe no one on your team threatened to quit, at least not in so many words. Maybe you have an office setup that is conducive to social distancing and / or everyone is vaccinated. Or are you really convinced that the ping pong table, the policy of bringing your pet to work, the unlimited PTO and the kegerator that you installed in 2018 is enough to satisfy everyone. (Spoiler alert: they are not.)
Many employers naturally cling to the idea of a return to normalcy. And yes, things are opening up again, and that’s great. But that doesn’t mean that everything has to go back to what we used to call “normal”.
The normal has changed in many ways. One of them: Your team doesn’t want to go back to work. Even with the kegerator.
This is a generalization, of course. We can’t speak for everyone, and there are a lot of jobs (especially frontline workers) that don’t have the ability to settle down from the couch.
Yet there are millions – literally millions – of workers who have just discovered that their work can, in fact, be done from anywhere. And they are determined to keep it that way. In our survey, only 12% of those surveyed in the United States said they wanted to return to the office full-time, and almost half of them would even take a pay cut so they could work from home.
WHY IT’S NOT A DISASTER
Remote work opens up a world of opportunities. You can tap into talents from all over the world. You can reduce overhead costs. You can still encourage people who enjoy face-to-face relationships to meet in real life, and you don’t have to rent a 15,000 square foot building to do so.
Even if your team hasn’t threatened to quit, you can bet your best talent will be tempted by remote work offers, especially since a larger cultural shift is making permanent remote working the norm. After all, you can’t ignore that a number of Instagram photos of people earning their full pay and providing total productivity while lounging by the pool, or at least somewhere that doesn’t require a commute – job.
It’s hard to beat “retaining the best talent” as the reason for adopting a remote work policy. But there’s one reason we haven’t even addressed yet, and it may be the biggest of all.
WHY ADOPTING A REMOTE WORK POLICY CAN SAVE MORE THAN THE BEST TALENT
Remote working was happening long before the pandemic hit. It’s just that it wasn’t (always) sanctioned. People accessed work information on personal devices and personal information on work devices. They would quickly check their work emails on the way to work, before bed, or on vacation. They would have multiple tabs open on their company-provided device – one with business messaging and one with staff (and another with Zillow search while they dreamed of better places to work right now).
If you think your team didn’t, think again. Even when it’s technically not allowed or you’re supposed to be in a perimeter, there are workarounds. And they are exploited.
This confusion between the staff and the professional has been a major component of the digital transformation. The pandemic has only accelerated things.
The problem: When you act like you’re everywhere in the workplace but don’t have the right infrastructure or an enforceable policy in place, you’re extremely vulnerable to threats. While malicious actors are a serious concern, inadvertent exposure of well-meaning employees is also a major factor.
The solution is obvious: embrace the workplace everywhere and do it right. Stop believing that your data will stay hidden behind your perimeter. Stop relying on password authentication that is outdated, cumbersome, and ready to be compromised.
Even if you are not inclined to let everyone free to work from everywhere and all the time, the reality is that the lines will become more and more blurry. It’s up to you to make sure this blur is safe, secure, and productive.
How? ‘Or’ What? The simplest approach, and one that more and more companies are adopting to facilitate the permanent transition to the workplace everywhere, is zero trust, end-to-end security. The ultimate goal of this approach is to eliminate passwords and keep every user, device and application on every network secure, anywhere, anytime. It’s a philosophy turned into a strategy that assumes the wrong actors are always present, so continuous authentication, threat detection and remediation are a must. Although it may sound ambitious, hyperautomation makes it achievable. Coupled with intelligent user design, your team can have the same access and experience, whether they’re down the hall or across the globe.