Whereas previously, the concept of working from home was considered a privilege, often for those in more senior roles, necessity meant that it became the norm, literally overnight.
The hybrid working benefits quickly became clear, as employees proved the conventional hypothesis wrong; productivity and delivery weren’t only possible within the 4-walls of the corporate office environment. The pandemic paved the way for a new, middle-ground working structure.
Although it naturally varies from industry to industry, the widespread adoption of a hybrid working structure has changed the way that a significant proportion of UK businesses operate. So, how many people work remotely? In 2021, Gartner predicted that by 2022, 45% of the workforce will be working from home two to three days per week. The Office for National Statistics recently reported how this has shaped the UK’s employment structure.
42% of people follow a hybrid working pattern. 46% of employees have returned to the office full-time; whilst the remaining 12% work fully remotely. *
Despite its benefits, supporting a hybrid model comes with its challenges when it comes to asset management, data governance and fulfilling GDPR data destruction requirements. Those working remotely have an even greater reliance on efficient technology along with secure, reliable access to the corporate network. This resulted in the rapid digitalisation of our companies as they transitioned to cloud-based technologies.
To meet the key challenges of data governance, CIOs must establish new corporate policies to facilitate a safe hybrid structure and protect company data.
What are the benefits of hybrid working?
Improved work-life balance.
When employees feel engaged, valued and trusted to manage their own workload, they are more productive. A better work-life balance means they are more enthusiastic, energetic and healthier.
Of course, rushing the school run and battling the morning commute to make sure you arrive on time is not a good start to your working day. By not wasting time sitting in traffic, employees save their free time, equating to 17 days per year, on average. ^ In part due to less time wasted, studies have found that remote workers tend to work longer hours.
More than ¾ of employees stated that working from home improved work-life balance. 50% reported improvements in their well-being.
ONS. Opinions and Lifestyle Survey. 2022.
Moreover, increased high levels of staff satisfaction results in greater loyalty and team retention. By opening the door to hybrid or fully remote working, your business also widens its recruitment catchment area. Your new talent could reside some distance away. Research from CareerBuilder found that positions advertising remote work, received seven times the applications, compared to office-only roles. +
A 2022 Gallup study concluded that flexible work also drives employee engagement – when absorbed, employee performance skyrockets, increasing profitability by 21%. + Errors and absenteeism also both fall by around 40%. +
Remote working during the pandemic didn’t work for all, but more than half reported that they completed work faster and produced their best work without distractions. *
The Gartner 2021 Global Digital Worker Experience Survey of over 10,000 people showed that 43% of respondents felt that flexibility helped them to be more productive.
Lower office overheads.
Whilst employees need to spend a little more on their utility bills, for most this is far less than commuting and/or parking costs, not to mention the value they place on their free time.
Operational costs for businesses are greatly reduced; not just by using less energy. A hybrid/hot desk strategy means that the same amount of high-priced office space, simply isn’t required; businesses can close entire floors or move to smaller cost-effective premises, perhaps out of town.
What are the key cybersecurity risks of working from home?
The increased attack surface of the hybrid model brings a unique set of data security challenges which must be addressed. How can you meet the key data governance challenges of remote working?
Two full years since the pandemic began, 79% are still concerned about the data security issues and threats posed by remote working.
Thales Group. Data Threat Report 2022.
IT asset management.
It’s surprisingly easy to lose track of the technology residing in hundreds of individual home offices, potentially across a large region. Yet without knowing exactly what devices are with whom, how can you adequately secure the data upon them?
An IT audit will help keep a complete inventory of not just the asset but its probable location if taken off-site – essential when it comes to data compliance. IT asset audit services can help enterprises regularly record their inventory. An equipment audit will also ascertain what is truly needed for specific roles, what should be retained, upgraded and redeployed – it will identify surplus redundant IT equipment that’s either no longer really needed for the remote role or anything that is simply sat around gathering dust. You could choose to sell redundant IT assets that still have a marketable value. However, one of the more common ITAD mistakes is failing to undertake secure data erasure prior to resale – a factory reset will not suffice.
For end-of-life IT assets, IT asset disposal services will provide a full data compliance ITAD chain of custody with each device receiving its own IT asset disposal accreditation certificate. Due to the growing e-waste crisis, it is always important to look for an environmentally-friendly ITAD partner with a circular model. Sustainable IT will also boost your budget through the residual component values, as well as your reputation.
As IT asset disposal companies have evolved to provide wider lifecycle services, leading ITAD partners can provide additional engineer resources when you need time-saving support with pre-deployment IT preparation, PAT testing, asset tagging, imaging or equipment delivery.
Home network security.
As the lines between our working environments started to blur – our attitudes to corporate device security can follow suit. However, those who work away from the protection of the corporate network firewall, must also take responsibility for their own cybersecurity, especially when using Bring Your Own Devices. Whether this is secure password management or ensuring OS updates are always run on time, personal digital security responsibility is vital within a hybrid structure.
Whilst routinely delivering cyber threat training to employees helps, accidental insider attacks have increased significantly since 2020, in part, this is because employees naturally feel very secure in their own homes.
Strict physical IT asset monitoring policies are difficult to manage. Therefore, a hybrid workforce requires new security architecture strategies. Organisations might capitalise on the advantages of two-factor authentication or adopt cost-effective access privilege frameworks, such as the zero-trust model.
We know that home WiFi networks are less secure, the vast majority still use their default router password. Having analysed the 12 most popular routers sold on Amazon in 2021, Comparitech found that cyber-criminals could remotely access 1 in 16 default password home networks.
Helping employees change their router credentials will mitigate the risk. An unauthorised actor can move undetected through your corporate network, having gained access via the expanding and insecure Internet of Things, including doorbells, toothbrushes or smart TVs.
Secure office relocations.
Understandably, hybrid enterprises look to reduce their facility’s operational costs, but moving workplaces is a complex task and business downtime must be minimal.
Data protection compliance is key during a move; all data-bearing assets should be transported to the new location within a highly secure GPS-tracked fleet. Your ITAD supplier can help with on-site data erasure prior to your move including big data ITAD that may be required, such as data centre decommissioning. Those with secure office relocation teams ensure a seamless, and stress-free move through detailed pre-move audits, network configuration, cable management and desktop installations.
Whilst there are huge benefits associated with this new operational strategy, our new way of working also brings new IT security management risks. Our enterprises must look to resolve the hybrid data governance issues to safeguard corporate records. It is vital that IT procedures and policies integrate and apply to all employees, no matter where they log-in from.
Technical security controls, accessibility frameworks and regular cybersecurity awareness training will support remote workers, ensuring that they are responsible for their own personal digital security. After all, they are your first line of defence.
For stretched IT teams, inventory audits can help ease the additional asset management pressures of supervising a remote workforce and coordinating the secure IT asset disposal of their devices. The lifecycle management or office relocation support provided by ITAD services will guarantee your data compliance, whilst mitigating the specific vulnerabilities created by our new era of employment. This just leaves you to capitalise on the benefits of increased engagement, productivity and your subsequent business success.
*Office for National Statistics, ^Airtasker, +Forbes,
tier1 proudly take a fully circular approach to our secure IT asset disposal services. Not only do we provide environmentally friendly ITAD, asset disposition and data centre decommissioning, but we also deliver flexible business support solutions.
Through our data erasure, asset management and secure office relocation services using our own GPS-tracked fleet, we are there to ensure you meet the key challenges for data governance within your hybrid working structure.
Ask us about our IT audits, device upgrades and how we can sell your redundant IT assets through our recommerce online store – contact our team on 0161 777 1000 (Manchester), 01621 484380 (Maldon) or visit www.tier1.com
Gartner, Forbes, Thales Group, Sentinel One, Blue Fort, Adecco Group, Office for National Statistics, We Live Security, Comparitech, Airtasker, Flex Jobs, Security Week, Avast,