As the pandemic continues to shape the new hybrid work model, it’s clear company office environment safety requirements are evolving. Prior to the pandemic, security primarily entailed access control — protecting people and physical assets from harms or theft.

But following accelerated digital transformation, the onset of the pandemic and the new hybrid workplace, what does a secure in-person and virtual office environment look like in 2021 and beyond? And what are organizations doing to achieve it?

To answer these questions and more, Entrust surveyed 1,500 leaders from the manager level to the C-suite and 1,500 full- and part-time employees. The Pulse Check on In-Office Security for Hybrid Work Models report — part two in our three-part Securing the New Hybrid Workplace Study — surveyed workers in 10 countries across four global regions.

The findings uncover the security challenges and opportunities facing enterprises as they increasingly return to in-person office environments. And considering the importance of keeping employees healthy and company data safe, addressing these issues can’t wait.

3 main themes from our report

Business leaders and employees agree that enhanced security and safety protocols are needed for the new hybrid workplace. Here are three key concepts from Pulse Check on In-Office Security for Hybrid Work Models that highlight organizations’ approaches and concerns regarding the new hybrid workplace.

  1. Employees want stricter in-office health and safety policies.

    Both leadership and employees are generally on the same page regarding organizational health and safety plans. Eighty-one percent of leaders say their company has a committee that manages and communicates health and safety protocols. This work appears to be paying off considering the vast majority of employees (93%) believe their employer’s health and safety protocols are clear.

    Despite the clarity of current practices, employees still want stricter in-office policies. Nearly all respondents — 96% of leaders and 93% of employees — agreed it is important that their organization has a system to track visitors who enter and exit the building when employees are in the office. Both groups overwhelmingly attribute their desire for stronger security to the need to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Protecting confidential information and avoiding potential physical harm were cited as the second and third reason, respectively.

  2. Organizations should consider employee sentiment and local vaccination rates as they develop protocols.

    Despite the overwhelming concern about the spread of the virus, there were significant gaps between leadership and employees when asked about COVID-19 testing requirements before entering the office. Over two-thirds (68%) of employees indicated wanting their employers to require a negative test. However, only 59% of leaders said their organization either currently enforces or is considering enforcing a required test for visitor entry.

    In the U.K., Canada and Japan, there were even larger gaps in how workers and leadership viewed testing requirements. In these countries, employees were significantly more likely than leaders (+20% difference) to want office visitors to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test. One factor that may help explain employee sentiment is that in June — when the survey was distributed for this report — Canada and Japan had lower vaccination rates than the U.S. and the delta variant was sweeping the U.K.

    This retrospective look offers a lesson for organizations. Moving forward, employers should to consider their employees’ expectations and local vaccination rates when creating and implementing health and safety protocols, especially when it comes to COVID-19 test requirements.

  3. There’s a need to modernize visitor management systems.

    The majority of leaders (77%) had a visitor management system in place before the pandemic. Today, 70% of leaders and 53% of employees said their organizations use a digital-based system to log and track visitors, with the rest using outdated methods like pen and paper. The rates of digital adoption vary greatly by country, with the United States ranking slightly above average — 73% of leaders indicate they use digital-based visitor management systems.

    Given the desire for visitors to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test, enterprises using paper-based systems need to find a more accurate and secure way of logging visitations. And organizations with digital systems in place will need to ensure the sensitive health data they collect is kept secure and confidential.

    The investment in modern visitor management systems will pay off well beyond the pandemic. More than half of the total respondents also want to enhance in-office security protocols to prevent physical harm on employees and to protect confidential company information.

Download the Pulse Check on In-Office Security for Hybrid Work Models report for more insights

Download the second of three Securing the New Hybrid Workplace reports, Pulse Check On In-Office Security for Work Models, for a deeper understanding of what’s needed to manage security both in the physical office and virtual office environment. You’ll discover what employees want from their organizations, how leaders around the world are managing in-office security and how your organization can strengthen its current practices.

In case you missed the first report in our series, you can access Perfecting the Hybrid Work Model here, which delves deep into organizations’ hybrid workplace arrangements.

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