Working conditions a bigger draw than salaries for job seekers
IT professionals are putting quality of life ahead of financial gain in looking for their next job, according to the latest TechBeat survey carried out in association with Auxilion. Conducted in September 2021, 102 IT decision makers shared their views on how security will inform their return to work and hiring strategies.
Capturing a real shift in perspective, the survey found that when it comes to securing a new role 31% of respondents think salary is the most important factor to consider. Meanwhile, 69% cite career advancement opportunities as more valuable. A massive 93% said work/life balance is their main consideration when accepting a job offer.
Not only does it seem remote working is here to stay, (74% of respondents predict that most office workers will work remotely by 2025), it is a deal breaker. Almost three quarters (71%) would refuse or leave a job if remote or hybrid working wasn’t offered. Another 86% believe working remotely would improve their quality of life.
“It is clear the tide has shifted when it comes to priorities in the workplace – what was once a nice option is now a necessity for the majority,” says Philip Maguire, CEO, Auxilion. “People have adapted to remote and hybrid working, which means businesses must do so too.
“The reality is people will be looking for organisations that empower staff and are agile – in fact, this is so important that people are willing to take drastic action like refusing or leaving a job. Thus, facilitating remote or hybrid working will be crucial for both retaining and attracting talent as we move forward.
“Even though our research found that just 29% of IT leaders are planning a career move in next 12 months, this number will only increase as the job market and economy continues to recover. In turn, competition for skilled workers will skyrocket and companies won’t want to miss out.”
When asked what work style their organisation was likely to implement as restrictions continue to ease, there may have been some deviation in response, but the through line was clear – the days of working in the office full-time are behind us.
A total of 41.7% IT leaders expect to continue remote working while doing half days in the office. A quarter of respondents expect to evenly divide their time between home and the office; a further 15% expect to work both in the office, and work remotely for half days; 11.5% see themselves working remotely on a full-time basis; and just 3% expect to work in the office full-time.
Expectations don’t always align with reality, however. Organisations still have some way to go when it comes to feeling adequately equipped to facilitate the new approach. More than half (52%) of IT leaders feel ‘somewhat equipped’ and 9% ‘not at all equipped’ to do so.
A hybrid workplace brings a whole new set of challenges. The most dominant (67.7%) challenge IT leaders face is ensuring that all staff have the same user experience, whether working from home or from the office. Ensuring adequate IT security measures for devices across various locations is another pressing concern for more than two thirds (66.7%) of respondents.
Although most Irish adults are now fully vaccinated, there remains little appetite to return to ‘business as usual’. Security professionals are meeting the moment, but controlling and maintaining massive IT estates have inevitably come to include personal devices is no easy feat.
It is no surprise that security is a top priority. In fact, 54% of IT leaders expect to spend between 21-40% of their total budget on security.
For Maguire, this upward trend is in line with the increased level of risk organisations face today. “Security is one of the most important elements of an IT strategy and it is one of the most complex areas as well, so we are glad to see that businesses are planning to spend a significant portion of their budget on it. Especially now, with the new way of working, there are more weak spots, more actors out of the control of IT departments and more threats,” he says.
“Security shouldn’t waver, regardless of location, and the experience users get should also be consistent. This inevitably requires investment in all aspects, from the right technologies to staff training.”
Still, there is some consensus among IT professionals that their organisation’s overall security strategy is satisfactory. Survey respondents were generally content with the overall security strategy their organisation had in place. Half (51%) of participants rated their strategy ‘adequate’, while 25% said it was ‘very good’. One fifth (19%) rated it ‘inadequate’.
Survey respondents were also asked to identify the biggest security concerns for the hybrid model. These include maintaining the same security posture remotely (60.6%); ransomware and malware (59.6%); untrusted/shared networks (38.4%); data loss prevention (35.4%); and weak passwords (26.3%).
Meanwhile, when asked if they felt confident in their organisation’s ability to manage and secure remote staff’s home environments, 45% of respondents said they did not.
Maguire says this is a product of the workplace as we know it changing for good: “Undoubtedly, pre-pandemic, it was easier for IT teams to monitor and safeguard systems in the office,” says Maquire. “However, the workplace as we know it has changed permanently with digitisation, diversification and distribution underpinning its very core. In tandem, the risk landscape has intensified with more sophisticated and frequent threats and attacks – hackers trying to take advantage of the situation. Therefore, it has never been more important that organisations are focusing on and enhancing their visibility, accessibility and security tools across all devices, networks, and environments.
“This journey will be continuous as business determine best practices but whether at home or in the office, each company must ensure that as well as connecting staff and enabling them to work effectively, they are properly managing and securing their systems to not just connect but protect, analyse and act.”
The TechBeat survey found that half of companies (52%) do not have a centralised system to provide full visibility of all devices being used by employees to access company network. Maguire says this dearth leaves companies open to attack: “Without visibility of devices, companies will leave themselves vulnerable to attack – that’s the bottom line.
“There are more risks and variables now, therefore more measures need to be taken to safeguard data and systems. IT departments cannot rest on their laurels or take anything for granted, such as the same worker logging on at the same time from the same place every day. This interaction needs to be checked and verified every time to ensure that nothing is compromised,” says Maguire.
“The Zero Trust approach hasn’t risen in popularity for no reason. It helps to ensure that only authentic users with permission to access select networks are allowed to do so. Getting the basics right is vital for resiliency and protection.”