The Future Workplace: Balancing Flexibility and Compliance

30 March 2020

Future Workplace - KA2

By Andy Downs –


Everything is different now.

As we work together to battle COVID-19, one thing is increasingly clear: traditional ways of working are being disrupted and future workplaces will change as a result. During these times, entire organisations have rapidly transitioned to remote work, with teams discovering new tools and technologies for continued collaboration and communication, away from one another. There’s been expected hiccups – the Guardian reports that some corporate networks put such a strain on VPNs that they’re experiencing “unusual quirks” and some internet providers are under pressure to lift bandwidth caps for remote workers. But, as we all anticipate and welcome a return to normalcy, I foresee a longer-term trend among organisations to build the best of these flexible practices into the future workplace.

Prior to Coronavirus, the modern workplace was already in a state of rapid evolution, energised by technology that enables employees to work anywhere and anytime. New mobile collaboration and communication tools made it easier than ever to attract top talent, power productivity, and improve operational efficiency. However, these tools also pose a new set of challenges, including security and regulatory compliance.

The key is to give employees the tools they need to improve their communication and collaboration. Implemented properly, these tools and technologies will also allow organisations to mitigate risk, adhere to regulatory compliance, and, ultimately, to realise enhanced business value. We share a few considerations to keep in mind today for an improved workplace tomorrow.

Modernising the Workplace to Meet Evolving Compliance Standards

The modern workplace is an exercise in balance. On one end, it must accommodate changing employee habits and preferences, like remote work, to facilitate not just flexibility but productivity, collaboration, and growth. It’s worth it – according to a Gallup poll, companies with highly engaged employees outperform their competitors by 147%.

Flexibility and mobile device management, however, opens organisations up to greater data security risk, and must be met with robust data loss prevention and security measures. Overlaid on all sides is a critical need to comply with data and regulatory measures, which are ever-evolving and increasingly complex.

The challenge becomes – how do you balance the business benefits of empowering employees through the modern workplace with the growing complexity of evolving regulatory compliance? Lest we forget some recent examples of the toll this can take on a business. Just recall two major organisations, British Airways and Marriott International, which combined faced fines of $317 million for GDPR infringements.

At the same time, new technologies that empower and connect employees in a modern workplace can foster efficiency, collaboration, innovation, and productivity. Instant messaging, enterprise social media tools, meeting software and HR applications are all smart investments to keep your workforce connected. The key is to implement the right tools that will drive cultural change, comply with data and privacy regulations, and keep your people and your operations secure from cyberattacks.

Maximising Collaboration and Mitigating Risks

Modernising your workplace is an opportunity that will not be owned solely by your IT department. While your tech experts will have a critical role to play, true workplace transformation requires your organisation to look across functions, processes and people to consider the business as a whole.

Organisations often turn to frameworks for cybersecurity and regulatory compliance. Frameworks provide the best practices and guidelines you need to improve security, ensure compliance and optimise your business operations. At KA2, we’ve refined our Smarter Framework for exactly this reason, to help you get started and chart a plan that transcends traditional silos and mired organisational constructs. The goal, always, is to forge a compliance framework that optimises business benefits and allows for flexibility. Ultimately, you want to make your organisation as secure as necessary, rather than as secure as possible.

Digital transformation is happening rapidly. One source reports that well over half of organisations in the study were embracing new technologies to transform their business in 2018, but only 23 percent of these businesses saw the transformation as a risk. Digital transformation can present huge benefits for your organisation, but it does so by opening up potential vulnerabilities.

For example, you might identify a need to update your organisation’s policies around information monitoring, data collection, and analysis, for security and compliance. But have you considered how such changes will impact your employee’s ability to realise business benefits, such as improving the customer experience or enhancing innovation in the industry? The right framework will ensure sound, safe, sustainable productivity and growth.

Striking the Right Balance Between Flexibility and Security

Again, we return to the concept of balance. The sweet spot, toward better business outcomes and long-term growth, lies in the balance between empowering your workforce and ensuring data security and compliance. To find the balance, consider what’s important to your organisation. What compliance issues do you face now? What about in two years? Five? Effective transformations will allow you to continually monitor and evolve as required.

Compliance aside, a Deloitte Digital Workforce report lays out a few motivations for digital transformation, from a business case:

  • Talent attraction: 64% of employees would opt for lower paying jobs if they could work away from the office.
  • Employee productivity: Organisations with strong online social networks are 7% more productive.
  • Communication tools: Workers prefer newer communication tools, particularly instant messaging, over more traditional ones like e-mail or team workspaces.

You likely already use many tools that will help you build the workplace of the future; don’t think of the transformation as a start-from-scratch, ground-up undertaking. Does your staff already check emails from their phone, log their project hours from a tablet or join a video conference from a remote location? You’re well on your way.

As we all do our part to battle COVID-19 and look forward to a return to normalcy, will you be ready to build your future workplace? We’re here to help. Consider a digital transformation framework, like our Smarter Framework, to guide and advise you on the technologies, tools and processes to overhaul your operations for maximum flexibility, security and compliance.


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