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Is the Future Office or Home-Based?

As things have changed rapidly over the past couple of tumultuous years, we've largely become accustomed to a new style of working. Whether businesses were keen on the idea initially or not, the idea of home working fast became an unavoidable reality for most within the world of cyber security. But now, at the point where office working can once again happen, what is the reality of working life for those in cyber security really going to look like?

Given that we speak with numerous cyber security professionals every day, we felt we'd share the most common thoughts and threads that we've come across over the last 18 months, looking at what we've learnt and what the industry is likely to take from that to be at its best moving forwards.

On hearing that staff were going to have to predominantly work remotely, one of the biggest factors that suddenly came into play was trust! Whilst there was always some remote working available in cyber security, some businesses have shied away from it on the grounds of whether they can trust their employees to continue to deliver work of the same quality and within the same timescales. Speaking to many who have worked throughout the pandemic, the consensus is that the community on the whole has really proved to employers everywhere that the majority of the industry are perfectly capable of providing top quality work on a remote basis. This will really help to push remote working's cause moving forwards.

Another big factor coming into play has been travel. With employees no longer having to travel, most have found that their work/life balance has improved. This is not just with getting the travel time back, but even being able to do 'odd jobs' around the house on their lunch breaks or ensuring after work time is time to relax and enjoy. This said, employees are also now almost twice as likely to 'stay late' if they need to complete a task, as they feel if they finish later then it is no different to when they would have arrived home before, therefore increasing productivity for businesses too.

There's also another that has had both positive and negative effects on different people. Some find that, when it comes to seeking support, answers to queries, etc, it has become more difficult to get immediate answers. Where you could previously go and find someone, particularly in a small business, this is no longer the case and has become a frustration for some who now spend a lot of time waiting for answers. This said, there has been a positive side to this too. With the inability to physically go and find someone at their desk, other workers have been able to thrive on the ability to fully prioritise their own workload without being drowned in inane questions!

Moving on to the social aspects of working from home, when talking with the cyber security market this has been a particularly split poll. Whilst some have relished the ability to regulate their own social interactions more, it is a harsh reality that others have found that talking to colleagues provided much of what they needed socially. Without the potential for after-work drinks and the general office chats, some have felt more isolated on both a personal and professional level from their colleagues. On the other hand, I believe people have generally become more friendly in other aspects, from neighbours now talking to each other through to people planning to meet up with their work social circle more often outside of work hours.

Finally there are the technical aspects, with the move to home working pushing the swift rise of cloud technologies and the surrounding securities, which in turn have created more security roles that can be performed on a fully remote basis given the environment and nature of the work….but that's a whole article in itself!

Overall, we believe that there is a balance to be struck in the industry. The above gives contrasting positives and negatives that can be taken from the past 18 months, but it comes down to the fine line between personal preferences with business requirements. The trust is largely there now, it'll be more on whether there's something to genuinely be gained by office working, or indeed to working from home, that could define roles moving forwards.

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