Blog CSO, Full Skope, Security Transformation Key Considerations for the Future of Work
Jun 09 2021

Key Considerations for the Future of Work

In summer 2020, as it became abundantly clear that remote working in response to the COVID-19 pandemic was here to stay, Netskope surveyed more than 400 end-users in the US from across many industries, including telecommunications, IT, government healthcare, finance, nonprofit, and education, about their thoughts related to remote working. 

Nearly a year later, with companies evaluating a mix of returning to offices, letting employees stay remote, or attempting a hybrid model, we ran this survey again to see if anything has changed for end-users at large regarding remote working. In addition, we also asked whether their organizations have any plans to continue offering remote working, or even a hybrid of remote and in-person working. Here’s what stood out from this year’s answers:

Users have accepted the “new normal” of remote work is no longer “new”

On the whole, opinions about working remotely have stayed consistent with the results we found in our 2020 survey. As we reported, the majority of respondents noted that they either never or seldom worked remotely before COVID, and as Netskope Threat Labs reported in March roughly 70% of workers are still consistently working remotely after a year. Clearly, this has gone from the “new normal” to the just normal for many and based on our results, only 8% of users surveyed had a negative view of working from home. 

This isn’t to say that there aren’t detractors. 46% of respondents say they find it somewhat to much more difficult to access the people or resources they need, and 40% found collaboration was somewhat to much more difficult when working remotely. Nearly two-thirds (65%), however, responded that they do have the adequate collaboration tools in place to be productive while working remotely. It’s also worth noting that 74% of respondents report having either seen no change or are working fewer hours than they were pre-COVID. 

Most organizations still haven’t made a call on permanent work from home 

Although some well-known organizations have announced permanent WFH policies, most organizations are still playing it by ear.

When asked if their organization had announced any plans for permanent work-from-home options post-COVID, 72% of respondents were either unsure or said no plans had been announced yet.  There are so many more factors to consider when it comes to executing return to work plans, whether that’s existing office space leases, vaccination rates in a given area, and employees’ comfortability returning to offices. With all of those factors in mind, and the time it takes to socialize return to work plans, the 72% here is best read as “no plans have been announced yet.

As of now, a strong majority of organizations are still in wait-and-see mode: watching as vaccine rollouts happen, connecting with their employees to gauge willingness to come back into offices and in what capacity or frequency, and mulling plans for a more solidified set of policies.

WFH and WFA is here to stay in some way, shape, or form

What’s certain is that the last year has fundamentally changed the workforce, and that, especially for organizations that haven’t yet firmed up work-from-home plans, a complete return to pre-COVID norms isn’t likely.

According to our survey: 

  • When asked if they would work from home on a permanent basis if their organization offered the option, 73% of respondents said they would take advantage of that opportunity. 
    • This stays consistent with the 75% who answered the same way on last year’s survey. 
  • 79% also responded that they would consider the option to work remotely, either permanently or partially, something that would make a future employer more attractive.
    • This is just slightly up from the 77% who responded this way on last year’s survey. 

The biggest conclusion we can draw from these statistics is that no matter what organizations eventually choose to do with their return to work plans, it’s clear that workforces have accepted that the old normal of working is never coming back. And as a result, they’ve adapted to the new normal where they continue to have the option to work remotely in some capacity.  

While you’re likely still formulating your return to work plan as an organization, what you must do now is look at consolidating your tools, eliminating waste, and finding ways to further evolve network and security architecture to be SASE-ready. This will help make sure your users and your data are protected no matter where they’re accessing data and staying productive. 

If you’d like to learn more about how to make sure your workforce is secure no matter where they’re working from, get your copy of our Securely Work From Anywhere playbook.

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About the author
Jason Clark brings decades of experience executing successful strategic security programs and business strategies to Netskope as Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer.
Jason Clark brings decades of experience executing successful strategic security programs and business strategies to Netskope as Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer.