Securing the Future Workplace With Identity

Nothing about this pandemic has been normal. As the COVID-19 virus swept across the globe disrupting everything and everyone in its path, people’s lives changed in a dramatic fashion, both personally and professionally. Global restrictions on movement and human-to-human contact forced businesses across all industries to close their doors to the physical world and migrate into the cloud at an unprecedented pace. 

Now, with COVID-19 vaccinations well underway, many organisations are planning to reintroduce their workforce to the physical office after almost 18 months spent working from home – but is the enterprise world ready to go back to how things were before? And is that even a possibility? Apparently not. 

Evolving demands of the new workforce

According to the recent “Thriving in the age of ambiguity” report by Aviva, 69% of employees now say flexible working will play an important role in influencing their job and career choices, while 64% of that same group stated flexibility of working hours would directly impact their productivity and performance. This idea that job satisfaction in a post-pandemic world depends heavily on granting employees the freedom to work wherever and whenever works for them is reflected throughout Okta’s research, too. 

In “The New Workplace Report” that surveyed 10,000 office-based workers across eight European countries and 12 industry sectors, Okta found that 42% of employees today prefer a mixture of home and office-based working, while 17% want to work from home permanently. Alongside a greater demand for locational flexibility, Okta’s report also found that 60% of employees would prefer to work in an asynchronised environment, with 54% of that group claiming the ability to define their own hours would drastically improve their work/life balance and job satisfaction.

Considering the above, we can say with confidence that a traditional 9-5 ‘one size fits all’ approach to working life will no longer suffice, and organisations must find a way to deliver the flexibility their employees have come to expect in a safe and secure manner. 

The future of work is hybrid

Deciding what the future workplace and work life will look like when the dust of COVID-19 finally settles has been a huge topic of debate over the last 18 months, and the answer will always differ from business to business. 

According to a City AM report, staff working at the global consulting conglomerate, Deloitte, will be able to work wherever they want when Covid restrictions are finally eased, with an internal survey claiming more than 80% of Deloitte’s workforce will enter the office for just two days or less per week in the future. 

Meanwhile, Apple CEO, Tim Cook, recently came under fire after telling his global workforce of 137,000 employees that they’d have to return to the office from early September – a decision contested by around 80% of Apple employees who claimed they can deliver “the same quality of products and services that Apple is known for, all while working almost completely remotely.”

From this, along with the research mentioned above, we can assume that many organisations will need to adopt a hybrid work strategy in future to satisfy shifting demands and ensure every employee feels safe, comfortable, free, and secure in their chosen work environment. 

Identity enables freedom & trust

Finding that balance between freedom and security, however, is not without its challenges, especially within large hybrid cloud IT environments built up from complex legacy systems and modern cloud technologies that don’t naturally integrate well with one another. Add device proliferation and the need to verify multiple unknown networks every time a user logs in to a different WIFI hotspot, and it’s easy to see why traditional perimeter-based protection models fail to keep modern hybrid networks secure.

Instead, many organisations today are now shifting towards a new security posture that assumes ‘Zero Trust’ in anyone until proven otherwise by identity, device, network, or location, and it’s this balancing of security with accessibility where the value of Identity Management solutions like Okta really come into play.

Acting as an identity partner that allows businesses to establish a single identity architecture in a Zero Trust, or cloud-based hybrid IT environment, Okta securely connects all the right people to the right technologies at the right time, both on-premises and remotely. As well as establishing trust between businesses and their employees, Okta also increases business’ confidence while protecting data, customer, and employee privacy. 

Meanwhile, by granting dispersed workforces seamless, single touch, password-less access to all the resources and apps they need to work, regardless of time or location, Okta helps organisations meet employee expectations and provide that much needed flexibility without jeopardising security.

For more information on how the workplace is evolving and what role Identity will play in helping organisations secure trust and satisfy employee demands as they transcend from the old world in to the new, download your free copy of The New Workplace 2021 report here.