Why Identity Is the Foundation for Tomorrow’s Resilient Digital Workplace
It might have started in the United States, but the Great Resignation is coming to Europe. According to IDC Research’s 2022 European Future of Work Survey, as many as one in every three employees within Europe is currently thinking about changing jobs. Even more would be open to the possibility if they were to receive an attractive offer.
What’s motivating these employees to leave their current employers? What reasons are they giving for the mass walkout?
A desire for higher pay is a perennial reason for people to seek out new positions, and economics are certainly a motivating force today. But the second-biggest driver behind the Great Resignation is the desire for better workplace experiences.
By now, we all know that the events of the last two years have sparked a great deal of change on many levels — both personal and professional, technological and cultural. Spurred on by a global health crisis that’s had profound effects, many people are asking themselves why they work.
They’re reconsidering their entire careers, often leaving their jobs in search of alternatives that are more meaningful and rewarding. Many employees are looking for employers that prioritise individual well-being and environmental sustainability. They’re seeking out responsible and ethical companies to work for, and workplaces where they feel cared for and supported.
An important element of this is having policies that enable flexibility and work/life balance. But another key element is implementing workplace technology that performs well. This helps people be more productive whether they’re in the office or away from it, and levels the playing field for remote and hybrid workers.
Decision-Makers Face New Challenges
Stakeholders in European companies understand that the struggle to find, recruit and retain talent has significant and potentially dire consequences.
46% of the respondents to IDC’s survey1 say that their organisations are having trouble finding qualified candidates to fill all their open positions. Demographic data and predictive models indicate that the problem is likely to get much worse over the next few years. IDC forecasts that by 2025, digital skill shortages will affect 90% of European organisations costing €191billion2. They simply won’t be able to deliver products and services, or they won’t be able to deliver on time, because of the scarcity of available talent. The unfortunate result is that their customers will begin switching to competitors.
This trend is being taken seriously within the C-Suite and by boards.
In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, corporate leaders were simply trying to weather the crisis. Today, they’re working together to re-engineer the workplace for the long term, transforming it into one that will attract and retain tomorrow’s top talent. These efforts will have a lasting impact on individual organisations as well as the very nature of work.
At the moment, companies all across Europe are engaging in large-scale experiments. They’re testing new models of working, and learning from their successes and failures. There’s no one right answer for every organisation in every country. Instead, companies are evaluating different combinations of processes, policies and technologies in an effort to create a workplace that will be resilient in the face of tomorrow’s challenges and risks.
Speaking at Forum22, IDC's Angela Salmeron explores what it means to be a resilient workplace and the role that Identity has to play in building secure, equitable experiences for employees.
Embracing the Borderless Organization
One thing is near-certain: hybrid work is here to stay. To continue to attract top talent, companies will need to empower their employees to work anywhere and anytime—not just temporarily during periods of crisis, but as a permanent change within the workplace.
IDC’s European Return to the Office Forecast3 predicts that the number of employees working full-time in the office will peak in 2023. Of course, in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic’s outbreak, the number of remote workers reached an all-time high, driven by the exigencies of the crisis. Today, employers are very concerned about employee attrition rates, and many see the in-person workplace as a means of re-establishing a sense of personal connection. By bringing people back into the building and encouraging them to collaborate and socialise, organisations are hoping to rebuild all-important interpersonal connections.
However, many employees have become accustomed to greater workplace flexibility, and they’ll increasingly choose to work for the companies that offer it. In addition, companies that offer hybrid and remote work options can downsize their real estate footprint to lower costs and increase flexibility. In uncertain economic times, an important business case can be made for such intelligent resource optimisation. Plus, making employees happier not only increases their individual job satisfaction, but also leads to improvements in customer service quality.
The shift to hybrid work does bring new challenges, particularly from a technology and security perspective. Many remote workers have relied on unmonitored personal devices and home networks to access corporate IT resources, which can compromise the organisation’s security posture. In fact many security programs continue to rely on legacy tools and network-based approaches, which don’t work well in the borderless networks that are the hallmark of the new normal.
Identity Sets the Foundation for a Resilient Digital Workplace
European companies are now making significant investments to improve digital workplace experience. 65% of respondents to the IDC survey4 said that this is currently among their organisation’s top priorities. The goal is to create a borderless organisation, making it into a place where employees, temporary workers, customers and partners can all collaborate securely, no matter where people are physically located.
In today’s world, data breaches remain far more common than they should be. The majority don’t take place because attackers are exploiting software vulnerabilities; they occur because cybercriminals are good at tricking people, stealing their credentials, or taking advantage of mistakes. The human factor remains the weakest link in enterprise security defences.
The best strategy for safeguarding against attacks that exploit human weaknesses is employing a Zero Trust-based approach to security. Identity is a core pillar in this strategy. By ensuring that the right people—and only the right people—have access to the right resources at the right time, identity and access management serves as the connective tissue that links security and user experience, keeping people productive even as it protects the organisation’s most valuable information assets.
Implementing identity-centric security architectures is key for cultivating digital trust, which in turn enables the borderless organisation.
To build an identity-first security perimeter, tomorrow’s resilient workplaces will need contextual access control, which makes it possible to enable low-friction access in low-risk situations, and step up authentication when necessary. They’ll also benefit from centralised identity governance solutions that make it easy to manage identities and create audit trails across complex organisations. And they’ll improve end user experience when they leverage centralised single sign-on (SSO) and multi-factor authentication (MFA) solutions.
Taken together, these capabilities will empower tomorrow’s hybrid and remote employees to collaborate securely—and ensure they can connect to the technologies that keep them productive, no matter where or when they want to work.
Watch Angela Salmeron, Director for the Future of Work at IDC Research, present a full session at Forum22 to discover what leading forecasters see on the horizon for tomorrow’s employers.
1. IDC's European Future of Work Employee Experience Survey, Doc #EUR149046922, Apr 2022
2. IDC European Skills Practice, 2022
3. 1Q21 Return-to-Work Forecast, Doc # EUR147478321, February 2021
4. IDC EMEA, Future Enterprise Resilience Survey, July 2021