Has the Office as We Know It Come to an End?

Miguel Ángel Martos    30 September, 2020
Has the Office as We Know It Come to an End?

2020 has had a difficult start. We have learned that what was “usual” may not be the best. We should reconsider this idea of “the office” as the centre of the company. This crisis may be the key to showing that a physical office building is a thing of the past, especially when remote working can be the guarantee for business continuity.

In times of crisis, technology allows us to work from anywhere and on any device. We are witnessing a change of focus towards a model of distance working driven by need and by companies seeking to take advantage of its potential benefits. But while workers think that remote working is an obvious thing nowadays, we still need a cultural change in the way companies think about remote working.

Remote working forces companies and employees to change. There are two areas where change stands out because of its impact on people: personal and collective interaction and security. Some fear that remote working may kill the corporate culture. It is not uncommon for someone to tell us that “being in the office is key to collaboration and boosting corporate culture” or “I love coming to the office to see my colleagues”.

In many companies it is quite normal to go out in groups for breakfast. It allows us to enjoy the social aspect of work and the culture of chatting with our colleagues. But, does that help us to be more efficient? People think that work is more effective if we do it together, and that is completely true. However, corporate culture is developed through strong principles adopted by management and employees. The interaction and execution of these principles take place remotely and, in the office. Especially when excellent collaboration tools are used, such as O365, Slack, Zoom, etc.

  • Physical security: when you enter the office, the company provides a “safe” environment: it controls access to the building, the climate, spaces, etc. Working from home allows oneself to control the environment and keeps the motivation and efficiency when working. It also protects oneself in a crisis where it is not advisable to be close to each other in the same room.
  • Technical security: the company also provides tools and services necessary to carry out our work. It ensures (hopefully) access to its information and services, such as e-mail, file sharing, applications, Internet, etc.

The methods focus on offering the highest possible degree of security, controlling access, connections and providing visibility of what is happening when interacting with corporate applications. It is becoming essential for companies to be able to protect their services, applications and the data residing within them from nowadays threats, which on their side, have also taken advantage of the circumstances and increased in number. However, in a constantly developing world, the tools and resources available to implement security from within and outside the workplace are also improving and adapting to the new conditions of decentralised and distributed environments.

Where We Are Headed: Remote Work, Zero Trust and SASE

Companies must apply two key models to protect remote work: Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) and Zero Trust. Both models are based on direct connectivity. They offer fast and secure routes to access any application.

In the previous model (over 30 years old now), a secure perimeter protected the data centre, applications and data from external threats. With cloud applications, the Internet of Things (IoT) becoming more common and users connecting from many locations, this previous model is no longer sustainable and not as secure. How could a perimeter around data be applied outside the corporate network?

Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) specifically addresses the security reality faced by organisations choosing the cloud. SASE secures the traffic between the user and the application. It is the journey and not the goal that is most important. With the SASE model, digital enterprises can provide security at all times, wherever the user’s location is, without complex and costly hardware stacks of security devices that require constant maintenance and updating.Zero Trust provides a unique and simple access model for users, regardless of where they are and what they are trying to access. This is critical, as companies quickly transfer employees to remote work environments. Using the principle of zero trust allows companies to isolate and segment who has access to what. There are no more shared spaces, each access must be validated before it is enabled. Connections are ephemeral: the user and the application connect only for a specific communication and nothing else.

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