Balancing technology with pastoral care is the foundation of Dynamic Work

Fujitsu Okta

Okta recently sponsored a series of interviews with technology leaders, to discuss how they and their organisations have had to adapt to remote working; leading and succeeding through the Covid19 pandemic. Cathy Mulligan, Fujitsu’s VP & European CTO took time out from her busy schedule to discuss how her team and the wider organisation had adapted their working practices over the past few months.

Unsurprisingly as a technology lead in a company like Fujitsu, Cathy herself was well prepared for the sudden changes. “We’re a global company so a lot of our meetings were already done remotely. We interact a lot with Japan, Oceania, Asia and Germany,” she explained. Working from home though has been a new experience for over half of those surveyed in Okta’s New Workplace Report, and with varying degrees of success.

Cathy was full of praise for how Fujitsu had responded to the crisis: “Herculean efforts have been made to ensure that our customers are able to continue their business and their operations. The frontline staff have done pretty incredible work.” What became apparent talking to Cathy was the people-first approach that was needed to succeed, alongside the technology roll-out.

“As a technology leader, the main focus ironically has to be people; helping them understand from a human-centric perspective how to engage properly with these technologies,” Cathy explained, “Obviously productivity is an important point, but so is employee engagement. To be an engaged employee you must feel like you’ve contributed. So, understanding how to create those interactions digitally is really important as well, so people feel not just that they have the capability but that they have the ability to contribute to the workplace in the same way that they used to.”

It seems certain that many organisations will move now towards a more permanent ‘work from anywhere’, distributed workforce. Communication and work culture will move beyond the boundaries of a physical location, so people will be the ones truly defining success. Consequently, it will become increasingly important to balance pastoral care with technology, to ensure everyone feels included, engaged and working efficiently, regardless of where they live.

“It is a very different psychological experience to be working from home constantly,” Cathy observes, “In terms of keeping spirits up, there’s less of the spontaneous interactions that you would have being the office. Seeing someone as you walk past or catching a coffee with somebody. That lack of spontaneity is the biggest problem when you are stuck, working remotely.” 56% of those Okta surveyed in our New Workplace Report say they miss having in-person conversations, with 49% missing the relationships they have forged with those in the office. These numbers were higher in London. Likely a reflection of the small, often cramped accommodation available to those working in a big city.

This mix of sentiment about the new ways of working indicates the need for more hybrid working lifestyles as we move forwards. A point which Cathy backed up from her own observations. “We’re starting to get a real understanding of the need for hybrid engagement around the workplace and workspace,” she said, “Technology in today’s world is about something completely different. We’ve got the base communication structure. We got the base data structure. What is about now is enacting and enabling human beings to do their jobs better, more efficiently, more effectively and hopefully in a little bit more of a fun way.”

Balancing this new working freedom with security is obviously key as the potential attack surfaces grow considerably. “Security obviously is a huge issue. In Fujitsu we have an extremely good security team who are working pretty much 24/7 to understand the new attacks that are coming in and ensure that both Fujitsu and our customers are prepared for those,” Cathy explained, “From a technical perspective you can look at things like zero touch networks, or those kind of things that would help automation but also place different types of access controls on end users.” 

Zero Trust is a concept that underpins how Okta sees this future of Dynamic Work. It’s possible through contextual access. This throws away the idea of a ‘trusted’ internal network and an ‘untrusted’ external network. Instead, Zero Trust securely enables access for the various users regardless of their location, device or network.

It’s imperative that agility and productivity are balanced with security from both a technology and pastoral perspective. Workfaces may have broken free from the rigid shackles of the office, but new, more fluid secure structures and systems are needed to maintain the new status quo. As Cathy says, “We have to think a little bit more carefully about privacy, about identity, about security and about trust. Because if we abuse the digital technologies too much then employers, customers, everybody will lose trust in that technology.”

Listen to the full conversation with Cathy Mulligan, Fujitsu’s VP & European CTO on our podcast here <>