It’s been nine months since the pandemic spread around the world and changed how we work, collaborate, and even live. It is now evident that work can happen seamlessly and effectively outside the four walls of the office. In fact, with long commutes cut out of employee schedules, India Inc. witnessed a significant increase in productivity. And today, 71% of enterprise leaders say that they would consider remote working models in the future. The government of India recently announced the relaxation of several DoT mandated guidelines to allow technology companies to continue with remote working models.

Even the BFSI sector, with its sharp focus on security and compliance, is considering a long-term move to remote or hybrid models of work. For example, SBI is framing work from anywhere policies while Bank of Baroda is planning to shift 50% of their staff to remote working formats within five years. But this evolving hybrid model of work will create a highly distributed IT architecture that may prove difficult to secure and manage. As we recover from this crisis and move ahead, how will the workplace and the future of work evolve and how will technology fuel the new normal of work?

Even as India battled the ongoing healthcare situation, cyberattacks went up by almost 100% across some organisations. As organisations move to hybrid work models, they must move beyond older bolted on measures. The VPN, for example, is an outdated security measure that cannot secure remote networks or prevent bad actors from exploiting unsecured home networks to launch attacks. And this is where digital workspace solutions with security measures integrated into every layer offer a distinct advantage. The most important part of a digital workspace’s security arsenal is its zero-trust security strategy. Traditional security architectures comprise a single large perimeter around the local network and everything within that perimeter is trusted.

A successful attack on the perimeter would allow the bad actor to gain access to everything within it and would be impossible to contain. A zero-trust architecture breaks up the security perimeter and places it around each application and its data. With this micro perimeter structure in place, attacks can expose only the specific application targeted and can be easily contained. This approach secures transport and access of applications and data and leverages information about the user and device to grant access. Zero-trust models depend on five key pillars—device trust, user trust, transport or session trust, application trust, and data trust. Trust across each pillar must be secured to gain access. With zero-trust architecture at its core, digital workspaces offer many other security features like multi-factor authentication, single sign-on, conditional access to data and apps by way of policy enforcement, identity management, and enterprise mobility management. Such platforms also ensure automated compliance management and secures the entire network, leaving no loopholes or vulnerabilities.

But security is not the only factor to consider when enabling hybrid work models. From grocery shopping and taxi hailing to entertainment and communication, the average person uses multiple consumer apps that are simple and easy to navigate. They expect to have the same intuitive experience when it comes to organisational apps and platforms. To truly reap the benefits of a hybrid work model, organisations must consider investing in cutting-edge digital workspace platforms that are consumer simple and enterprise secure.

A consumer simple solution can offer a personalised experience to maximise engagement and productivity. There is also no time lost in trying to understand how to navigate the system. Single sign-on access to corporate apps, Intranet, resources, emails ensure an uninterrupted and engaging work experience. Such systems can even be activated and managed remotely which is invaluable in times of unexpected disruptions. For example, when the country locked down in March 2020, many organisations were not able to deliver laptops to new joinees or even to existing employees who worked on desktops in office. With a digital workspace solution in place, they were able to quickly onboard new devices and users with zero-touch options. They were even able to execute over-the-air configuration, policies, patches, and updates, and remotely troubleshoot issues in real time.

Digital workspace solutions are often described as a set of technology tools or a framework to enable employees to work from anywhere at any time. But I believe that a true digital workspace solution is much more than just an amalgamation of technology tools. It is a holistic change in the way end-user services are delivered by IT. It is built with the user in sharp focus and designed to deliver a seamless user experience by allowing IT to securely deliver the apps and data that employees need to work across any device from any location.

India is the most digitally dexterous country in the world with 67% of Indians using digital technologies to be more effective in the workplace. Equipping them with a modern, secure, and engaging digital workspace solution as they work remotely will only boost morale and productivity. Modern digital workspace solutions can help organisations meet the demands of the new normal. And I believe that over the next couple of years, digital workspace solutions will see wider adoption across both traditional enterprises, as well as smaller organisations.

Views are personal. The author is senior director, enterprise and government sales, VMware India.

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