Tariq Hussain, Senior Sales Director, UK Government and National Security, Dell Technologies, explores Why Cyber and Choice are essential for hybrid working
This is the second in a 2-part series exploring the critical factors for hybrid working to support the levelling up agenda.
As many of us have experienced, working from home brings with it challenges as well as benefits. More and more of us in the UK are expecting to work more flexibly in the future, including working remotely.
There is a strong case for private and public sectors workers, with many, including the UK’s civil servants, looking forward to more flexible working policies. Meanwhile, company and government policies towards flexible and hybrid working are in development.
We have a unique opportunity to collectively develop a system of work that works for everyone. The dream of levelling up in the UK is now a reachable possibility; people can live anywhere and have opportunities to jobs that previously may have only be available with a relocation to London. If we can realise this once utopian prospect, it could mean more people deciding to live and work outside of cities, spreading their wealth to more places throughout the UK. It’s all to play for in creating the future of work.
But like any game, there are rules to follow. There are essential factors many business leaders need to put in place to ensure their remote or hybrid workforce can effectively function, such as cybersecurity. And there are benefits, too, like greater opportunities for all, that are yet to be fully realised.
Use technology to create a seamless (and safe) hybrid environment
Planning for privacy and security should be an absolute priority and not something to compromise. For a thriving hybrid working environment, remote technical support should be just as efficient as in-person. Our civil service survey revealed that while nearly seven in 10 said tech support was as timely and effective at home as in the office, 17% thought it was worse.
A small proportion of respondents to the survey worried that their employer had not adequately protected security in remote working systems and tools. Over a third of respondents said their organisation had not been in contact to check they were observing data protection rules, and 40% said their organisation hadn’t checked that their home Wi-Fi settings were secure. Five times as many devices in circulation across the workforce as before the pandemic means five times more opportunities for threat actors to attack individuals. To tackle this, organisations can and should introduce regular checks to ensure employees are correctly protected and aware of data regulation rules.
Security needs to connect the people, processes and technologies behind an organisation, with defined worker personas informing security policies and enabling end-user productivity (wherever they might be) with suitable access, technology and solutions. Collaboration and communication need not be at the expense of security. Secure tools are available that can be used anywhere, anytime on any device, providing safe, effective capabilities for conferencing and collaboration whether in the office, at home, or on the go.
Create more opportunities for all
With hiring and talent acquisition now untethered from an office, there is a huge opportunity for individuals and communities previously limited by location. More people than ever are working remotely: at Dell, we expect around 60% of our entire workforce to work remotely on any given day permanently. Eliminating the location barrier has opened up more opportunities for companies and employees, with businesses fishing from a significantly broader talent pool than before. However, HR hiring teams will need to consciously and proactively rethink how they source and hire talent to make the best use of this opportunity.
There is also the question of how we ensure equity and access to career advancement for existing team members. I’ve seen first-hand how remote work has levelled the playing field: turning on your Zoom camera now gives you a seat at a table you might never have imagined pre-pandemic. There are now incredible, new opportunities to grow one’s career no matter where you are. Still, organisations must have processes in place to avoid the cursed scenario “out of sight, out of mind”.
We know that not all professional opportunities present themselves in the boardroom – frequently, it’s the water cooler moments that levy career breakthroughs. That’s why organisations should not underestimate the power of virtual connections to build relationships. At Dell Technologies, team members have cultivated a grassroots approach to embracing the connected workplace as part of our culture, with ‘walk and talk’ meetings, virtual happy hours, coffee meetups, even yoga sessions. Our Employee Resource Group Conexus champions a flexible work community by creating a collaborative work environment. Starting as an informal support network in 2009 and launching as formal ERG in April 2014, it provides peer to peer leadership in technology, local communities, best practice sharing, virtual networking and volunteer opportunities. It ensures an inclusive and productive environment for our team members regardless of where, when and how they work.
People expect work to be more flexible going forward. Business leaders must not miss this opportunity to make that a reality – motivating their workforce, securing employee loyalty and benefitting from a larger talent pool as a result.
A flexible working culture combined with the right technology infrastructure has proven to unleash innovation, balance life and work for team members, broaden the talent pool and shrink our environmental footprint. As we embrace flexible working, we have an opportunity to spread benefits across the UK and lead in creating the future of work that works for everyone.