- The pandemic is accelerating digital transformation at many organizations, according to a report published last week by Harvard Business Review Analytics Services and sponsored by Verizon, creating a need to blend virtual work and work that requires an employee to be based at a physical location.
- In a survey of 1,080 global business leaders, the report's authors found 86% of respondents agreed with the statement that "the digital workplace must coexist with the physical workplace for the foreseeable future." And while 78% expected to increase the amount of remote work being done at their organizations, executives cited in the report said functions such as product development meetings, onboarding and new-client meetings may be more effectively done in-person.
- Most respondents said their organizations facilitated digital work by implementing tools like videoconferencing, instant messaging, and shared calendars. But data security was of "high importance" to 86% of respondents, and the report indicated security concerns "are a top barrier" to accelerating change.
The report isn't the first to research employer sentiment about the prospect of more flexible work arrangements, and many organizations seem likely to embrace such arrangements beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. A recent survey conducted by HR consulting firm Mercer found 83% of U.S. respondents said their companies were considering installing flexible work at a greater scale than they had before the pandemic, while 73% suggested that the goal may be to install a "hybrid work environment" that includes both in-office and remote work.
But the Harvard Business Review Analytics Services report also points to a running theme in conversations about the sudden shift to telework: security risks. As early as March, the International Association of IT Asset Managers warned in a statement that companies may have rushed their remote transitions without first implementing data-security measures. Those fears may be compounded by employee behaviors that can lead to vulnerabilities, such as sending company data to personal email accounts, according to email security firm Tessian.
Companies have taken notice, according to a recent survey of IT security decision-makers by Pulse Secure, a security software vendor. The company found that more half of respondents intended to continue increasing their work-from-home security budgets and that antivirus and firewall solutions were the top ways to proactively secure remote-work users.
Remote work can pose a variety of other challenges outside of data security, particularly cultural challenges. In a previous interview, a Verizon executive emphasized the need to prevent burnout brought on by remote work in part by updating managerial and leadership styles. Managers might, for example, work to recognize the quality and output of employees' contributions rather than the hours they input.