As new variants of COVID-19 sweep the globe and case numbers skyrocket, organizations are struggling to develop sustainable hybrid work models. While there has been much talk about how and when employees around the world are returning to offices as well as the challenges of adjusting to remote work, there has been far less attention paid to issues of identity, security and access in this evolving way of work

To better understand the security needs of the new hybrid workplace, Entrust surveyed 1,500 leaders from the manager level to the C-suite and 1,500 full- and part-time employees at the entry and associate levels. The survey polled workers in 10 countries across four global regions, uncovering leaders’ current plans for the new hybrid workplace as well as employee perspectives on their work arrangements and organizations’ plans.

We discovered that the majority of leaders believe their security measures are enough, but their top security concerns tell a different story. And with the rise in cyberattacks in the past 18 months, organizations must quickly adapt to the new hybrid workplace with security at the center of their strategy.

3 key themes from our data

Business leaders identified several of the data protection initiatives they’re implementing to better their hybrid work operations. Here are three concepts from Perfecting the Hybrid Work Model, the first report in our Securing the Hybrid Workplace series, that highlight organizations’ approaches and concerns regarding the new hybrid workplace.

1. Leaders and employees are confident their data is secure.

Distributed workforces, both remote and hybrid, are becoming the new norm for most organizations. The majority of our respondents said their company is either currently using a hybrid work model or is operating remotely but considering a hybrid approach. This means the need for tighter security — inside and outside office walls — is greater than ever.

The majority of leaders (95%) said their policies include data security and privacy best practices, and employees indicated their employers have ramped up security, to at least some degree. But the security technologies leaders have invested in varied significantly by country. For example, only 17% of Canadian business leaders said their organization has implemented passwordless technology, compared to more than half (54%) in the United Arab Emirates.

Attributing their confidence to multi-factor authentication (MFA) and virtual private networks (VPNs), both employees and leaders feel confident their data is secure outside of the office.

2. Evidence shows organizations need to further invest in their security strategy.

Our survey revealed an inconsistency between respondents’ confidence in their out-of-office data security versus their concerns about security overall.

Leaders believe company data is protected by standard security solutions like MFA and VPNs, yet their top security concerns are all related to data staying secure outside of the office. For example, more than half of employees and leaders indicated their organization put VPNs in place to strengthen security, yet leaders rated the security of home internet connections as the biggest security challenge facing hybrid work models.

3. Organizations are willing to hire remote workers, but their onboarding processes need improvement.

A comprehensive and secure remote onboarding process is critical for organizations to welcome workers into their hybrid work model. Nearly 70% of leaders said they are considering hiring talent in geographically diverse locations, yet both leaders and employees indicated there’s room for improvement within their company’s current procedures.

But the groups disagreed when it came to identifying the characteristics that define an excellent onboarding process. Employees ranked new or improved collaboration tools as the top tactic to improve remote onboarding, while leaders listed improved new employee training. Meanwhile, employees ranked this same tactic in the bottom half of their list, signaling overall inefficiencies within organizations.

Download the complete Perfecting the Hybrid Work Model report for more insights

Download the first of three Securing the New Hybrid Workplace reports: Perfecting the Hybrid Work Model  for a closer look at what’s needed to make the new digital workplace more secure and efficient. In the report, you’ll learn what leaders and employees around the world are doing to defend their networks in a hybrid environment and how you can improve security in your own organization.

If you’re interested in learning more about our solutions built for the new hybrid workplace, get in touch with our team today.