IT for the Modern Workplace Survey Results

Between March and April 2019, Atlas Cloud released a survey to discover if current technology used by businesses meets the needs of today’s workforce. The responses provided valuable insight into areas where IT may need to improve to help shape the future of the modern workplace.

Over 1,200 people from across the UK filled in the survey including both those responsible for IT within their organisation and those who merely consume it.

Responses came from a diverse range of industries including construction, education, finance, healthcare, legal and professional services. This helped us to examine the intricacies of workplace technology and how it varies from business to business.

Login Processes

The survey found that a worrying 91.7% of organisations use only single-factor authentication for user logins. For Public Sector organisations (81.1% single-factor) and Educational Institutions (100% single-factor) this represents a massive security risk considering their access to highly-sensitive confidential data e.g. council tax payments, children’s information.

Using a single password for authentication is an out-dated method of security with 81%1 of data breaches being attributed to compromised passwords. It also puts organisations at risk in the event of a work device being lost or stolen.

Picture of a computer with a password and a verification code required to log in
Single-factor authentication is old-school and dangerous

Adding an extra layer of protection by adopting multi-factor authentication is an easy way to ramp up organisational security. Many users inevitably use the same password for multiple logins, so using a two-step verification service such as Google Authenticator, Authy or Duo helps to protect against this bad practice.

CEO Fraud Awareness

The majority of email breaches are down to human error and alarmingly CEO Fraud/impersonation emails continue to rise in number, up 80%2 in the past 12 months.

Only 28.5% of workers are actually aware of what CEO Fraud is, proving there’s still much to be done to protect businesses from a threat that can result in £000’s being unwittingly wired to sneaky fraudsters.

Shady looking character at a laptop
CEO Fraud is on the rise and awareness is not keeping up

Investing in a security tool capable of preventing impersonation attacks – amongst other things – is a must (e.g. Mimecast). However, to significantly reduce the chances of being caught up in such an attack, it’s also imperative to focus on user education and awareness to provide an extra line of defence against scammers.

If security is a coin, then on one side of the coin are automated security controls and on the other side is the "human firewall."

Matthew Gardiner, Mimecast3

USB Access

61% of organisations allow USB access on work devices, putting themselves at great risk. For instance, a USB-borne virus might compromise data or the network. USB access also leaves companies open to insider threat, whereby a worker extracts corporate data either to resell or to take to their next job.

Worryingly the figure is even higher for remote-enabled workers, with 64.5% allowed USB access. In addition to the threats already outlined, an unattended laptop in a coffee shop or on the train could easily be targeted with a malicious USB attack in a matter of seconds.

A woman sitting at home using a USB with her laptop
Unrestricted USB access is a huge risk for any business

It is recommended by the National Cyber Security Centre4 to restrict user access to USB where possible in order to protect your IT infrastructure and data. Additionally, switching to a cloud-based file sharing solution such as Citrix Content Collaboration, would give users the ability to share and access data remotely without impacting security.

Saving Habits

64.9% of workers still save work to their device rather than onto a company shared drive. There could be several reasons behind this such as the lack of a shared drive or the inaccessibilty of a shared network drive when working remotely.

Whatever the reason, not saving to a shared drive could have the following implications: a. Inability to recover or protect files in the event of device loss, damage or theft, b. Inability for teams to collaborate effectively, c. Inability to work remotely.

A laptop with a clutter of files around it
Poor file management impacts both data security and productivity

Regardless of whether users have the option to save onto a shared drive it’s hard to break the habit of users saving to their desktop. This problem can be alleviated by using hosted desktops because no matter where they save their files they will be stored in the cloud and remain accessible anywhere, at any time, on any device.

Remote Working

While 64.5% of companies offer remote working for employees only 35% are able to complete 100% of their tasks when working outside of the office. This is likely why a recent CIPD report found a meagre 6%5 of employees afforded the flexibility to work from home actually took advantage of it. A dependence on company-issued devices may also be a contributing factor.

The preference for remote/flexible working continues to grow and is something all office-based businesses may need to address. 70%6 of workers are more attracted to a job if it offers remote working and of those who work remotely 80%7 say they are more productive when working from home. It’s therefore vital to provide remote users with the most productive environment possible so that 100% of work-related tasks can be carried out regardless of location.

Woman working remotely in a nice environment surrounded by plants
Remote working options have become a must-have for many employees

Ultimately the best way to achieve this is a move away from traditional on-site IT. For instance, a cloud-based desktop setup will allow users access to all their files and applications wherever they are and on whatever device they prefer to use. Similarly, company network drives can be accessed as if the user were working on-premise.

Device Dependency

We all have our preferred ways of working, including the device we work on. However, 74% of users report being restricted to certain devices when carrying out their work, undoubtedly having a big impact on their productivity. This is especially so if a worker needs to travel or work remotely as they’ll endure limitations in what they’re able to access.

Man chained to his desk and laptop, trying to escape
Limiting users to a single device limits productivity and flexibility

26% of companies surveyed offered employees the flexibility to use multiple devices. These companies will be able to benefit from BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) initiatives. It can be highly beneficial to remove restrictions placed upon users so they’re able to work productively from any device.

Password Usage

A third of all respondents (33.4%) said they’re required to remember more than 6 workplace passwords.

Having a multitude of passwords creates several issues for a business. Firstly, it impacts a user’s productivity, having to remember so many passwords to sign into multiple applications. Secondly, there is a knock-on effect to IT teams as resetting forgotten passwords is usually the most common support call they deal with. Finally, it’s highly likely that users will use the same password for multiple logins, meaning if one password is breached then unwanted access can be gained to many systems and applications.

Man with wrong password about to smash keyboard against his monitor
You can now have a secure, single sign-on to all your apps, vastly speeding up work processes

This again highlights the importance of implementing a multi-factor login process as when passwords are compromised there is a secondary layer of protection. A setup such as Citrix Workspace can offer users access to all applications and desktops via a single sign-on utilising a multi-factor login. This can provide massive productivity and security improvements to any company.

System Stability

Our survey revealed that hosted desktops are 37.5% less likely to experience a crash than standard desktops. In addition, 32.5% of standard desktop users experience at least one crash per day. Multiply this per user, across the space of a year and we’re talking about a significant loss in productivity.

In order to remain competitive in this modern world it’s vital that systems are robust and can cope with the pressures placed upon them by users. Moving to a hosted desktop solution can both boost productivity and provide an advantage over competitors who are still using standard desktop technology.

Man sitting at desk with head in hands, surrounded by error screens
Cloud-based desktops are more secure and offer superior stability and scalability

For companies regularly experiencing significant downtime due to their IT setup, investing in a resilient business continuity/disaster recovery solution would also be something worth investigating.

Key Takeaways

It’s clear from the survey that, with regards to the IT function, businesses aren’t exactly setting employees up for success. There are also worrying trends in terms of bad practice and lack of awareness. However, these issues are easily addressed by working with a reputable Managed Service Provider (MSP) such as Atlas Cloud.

In order to build an IT function that’s fully fit for the modern workplace it’s likely that a range of services will be required. Your MSP should be ideally placed to help put together the perfect portfolio of products to address your key challenges. If you’d like to learn how Atlas Cloud can help modernise your workplace IT then get in touch with one of our specialists today for a no obligation discussion around your requirements.

References

Download a handy copy of the report

Modern Workplace Report Download

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version of our survey results
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