How Businesses Need to Adapt Security Frameworks for the Office of the Future

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A resounding theme around the office of the future is a high demand for flexibility, with workers gravitating toward employment situations that offer remote work, telecommuting, non-traditional schedules, and other mobile arrangements.

In fact, freelancing website Upwork surveyed over 1,000 US managers and more than half (55%) of the surveyed respondents agree that remote work is more commonplace in 2018 than it was three years ago. This trend also led to a rise in co-working spaces and communal offices.

While enterprises rethink their IT organization models to help accommodate unprecedented workforce mobility, fortifying and augmenting an existing IT security framework is paramount to limit potential threats from taking hold and protecting reputations with customers and partners.

As employees share more data and content digitally, and the sharing economy continues to exert its influence on the office of the future, IT and data security leaders will have to invest time and effort in network and device security solutions to allow workers the freedom to work and collaborate remotely and with access controls.

According to the Canon Office of the Future survey from December 2017 by Canon USA, 84% of business leaders surveyed say that network security is critical to digital transformation in the workplace, making it one of the first steps for organizations tackling enterprise security. As more laptops, mobile phones, smart assistants, and other connected devices enter the workplace, managing an enterprise network will require more sophisticated security measures. 

Prioritizing centralized network security management is usually top of mind for companies, granting administrative oversight of virtual and physical firewalls and other access controls for an ever-expanding matrix of users, devices, locations, and applications. These systems can help an organization’s chief security officer, and monitor and address the various security defenses and threats.

The office of the future will likely continue to see companies partner with digital solution providers, and engage in other meaningful company collaborations, to help support remote user accessibility and expand an organization’s traditional document sharing network.

Complementing these considerations, enterprises need to remember that connected office technology also plays a significant role in a company’s network security. Neglecting device security can create openings for employees and other agents to engage in behavior that can violate data privacy laws and digital ethics guidelines – either intentionally or by accident.

In today’s work environment of co-working spaces, connected devices, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies, and overall increased mobility, a sophisticated, multi-layered access control strategy is equally important. 

Also consider that a single office could have workers from several different companies – possibly even competitors – using the same document management devices to traffic intellectual property, consumer data, and private financial documents. It is important that this critical office equipment includes features that can restrict or allow device functionality based on employees’ roles and responsibilities, or even create audit trails for company protocol purposes. 

Solutions that come, or can be, equipped with advanced tracking systems can allow employees to control and monitor access to sensitive information and trigger email alerts when employees print, scan, fax, copy, or send specific keywords , which can help an organization protect its intellectual property. Carefully vetting office technology and looking for solutions with capabilities like encryption, password protection, or user authentication tools, is a fundamental part of device fleet management.

Despite heightened risks inherent in the digital future of the workplace, businesses should not resist or be intimidated by the forthcoming changes. As the office of the future evolves, so do the access-controlled devices, software and systems available for businesses.

The proper data access controls can help smart enterprises remain agile and continue to attract top talent while helping to protect information across the organization.

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