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The future of the traditional office is in flux, stop fighting it

“When this is all over” is a prefix and suffix to sentences you’ve likely heard a lot of over the last 12 months.

While there is hope that the world will change drastically on the back of the pandemic, many people are still resistant to change, especially when it comes to work.

Remote working became popular in 2020 because of the pandemic, but the genie is now out of the bottle and employees have seen that working from home or outside an office is not only possible, it’s a viable alternative.

“The time has come to rip off the band-aids and invest in robust solutions that will make remote working a viable solution in the long-term. From an organisational point of view, there is no going back to our pre-Covid ways, and the future involves a remote workforce,” says vice president of IT services at Alphacodes, Sarthak Rohal.

Rather than fighting this change, businesses should be looking at how best to accommodate remote work. Part of this, as always, involves securing the border of your business from cybercriminals and other ne’er-do-wells.

However, there is also a need to prepare the entire workforce for the shift.

This is particularly important when you take data protection into account.

“With increased scrutiny on data privacy and protection, and the full enforcement of the Protection of Personal Information Act (PoPIA) on the horizon, securing it is critical. Security, connectivity and data management need to form part of the overarching cybersecurity policy, and remote working policies need to be defined, including secure remote connectivity and end point security,” says Rohal.

This is vital especially if you hope to mitigate the risk of a breach and the data-loss, business continuity and of course, the cost of non-compliance.

The Alphacodes VP says that in order to fully support remote work a combination of tools is needed. Most important is a way for employees who are working remotely to engage with the business and training on those solutions.

“From a cybersecurity point of view, organisations need to enforce device encryption, strong password polices, multi-factor contextual access and authentication, as well as data governance policies and practices. It is also essential to develop a remote culture to support employees in developing healthy work-life balance in this new environment,” Rohal adds.

Never mind remote work, the above should be implemented across the business and its processes. If the workforce is split between office workers and remote workers, it should be clearly communicated who is working from which location, how they can be contacted and the like.

The switch to remote work in 2020 was haphazard and rapid because unfortunately businesses didn’t have much of a choice. Moving into the future however remote work is here to stay and your business has to adapt.

A good model, at least to our mind is the Salesforce reopening strategy which gives employees the option to choose how they want to work.

“Even before Covid, Gartner predicted that, by 2030, the demand for remote work would increase by 30%. However, to successfully incorporate a remote workforce in the long term, a more measured approach is required,” says the VP.

“A patchwork approach of quick fixes and band-aids is not sustainable and introduces businesses to risk. Data governance and cybersecurity need to be addressed from a holistic point of view, and organisational culture, policies, practices and processes need to be updated. Embracing intelligent technologies to accelerate digital transformation will be key for recovery and competitive advantage,” Rohal concludes.

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