The Future of Work

Sinead Conboy
July 19, 2023

How technology is changing the landscape of workplaces and workforces. 

There is no question that the working world is constantly evolving and adapting to modern life. Since the first industrial revolution in the 18th century, which saw the advent of machines for mass production, the way we work has been continually advancing. The age of the internet and computers began in the late 20th century, bringing a further shift towards automation and digitalization.  

Now with what has been deemed the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”, cloud computing, machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI), and Internet of Things (IoT), further blur the lines between physical, digital, and biological domains.   

We have started to see the impact of these technologies in the workplace, but looking ahead to the future, how could they be further integrated into our day-to-day working environment? 

Evolution of the hybrid workplace: 

The Covid-19 pandemic was a catalyst for one of the biggest shifts seen in the labour market in recent history, as companies had no option but to adapt to a remote working environment if they wanted to stay operational during strict global lockdowns.  

Now, more than three years later, more companies than ever look set to make remote and hybrid working environments a permanent fixture according to Scoop. The latest Flex report for Q2 2023 found that 51% of companies offer work location flexibility, up from 43% in Q1.  

Challenges of Remote Working: 

Despite the popularity of remote and hybrid working, it is not without its challenges. Some of the biggest obstacles faced by companies incorporating remote working into their working environment include:  

  • Collaboration and communication 
    In the absence of face-to-face interactions, businesses can face difficulties in ensuring effective communication and collaboration among colleagues and teams. The absence of non-verbal cues can result in misunderstanding and miscommunication which can lead to an absence of trust amongst employees.   
  • Technology  
    In order to complete there work efficiently remotely, employees need to have access to the right technology. Not having the right telecommunications solutions can hinder a team’s productivity.  
    IT teams also need to be able to access and manage devices remotely in order to provide quick and efficient support for their employees.  
  • Cybersecurity 
    Security is a major concern for all businesses, especially when implementing a remote workforce. There is a greater threat of data breaches if employees are using personal devices, as employees who use the same device for both personal and professional use may not have adequate back-up and recovery options.   

How to create a hybrid work environment with the right technology: 

  • Invest in collaboration software 
    Whether your team is fully remote or hybrid, they need access to the right resources in order to be able to work efficiently. Cloud-based business applications allow your employees to communicate and collaborate with ease.

    Additionally, the right telecommunications solutions play a large role in providing a face-to-face experience irrespective of where they are based. They are vital for business efficiency. Streamlining communication processes empowers employees to act faster, facilitates decision making and improves business efficiency.  
  • Provide the right hardware 
    Choosing the right hardware that can keep pace with your business needs is pivotal to enabling efficient collaboration and innovation, particularly as more companies are embracing a “work from anywhere” mindset.  
    In order to maintain a high level of security, businesses need to provide their employees with modern, trusted devices that are solely for professional use, to avoid a potential data breach. Using devices for both personal and professional tasks can increase cybersecurity threats.  
  • Make cybersecurity a priority
    Having a remote workforce expands your attack surface and therefore increases the risk of cyberattacks, but keeping cybersecurity at the forefront of your digital transformation strategy can keep your business safe.

    Employees should use company issued devices which have been protected with the latest anti-malware protection, using multi-factor authentication to verify their identities when logging in. Implementing these measures alongside steps such as virtual private networks will enhance your company’s security.

AI advancements in the workplace

Last month’s Knowledge Exchange focused on how AI is evolving - for better or for worse. But how will it affect workplaces and the more pertinent question on everyone’s lips – will it be used to replace a large part of the workforce?  

Chairman and CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, described the next generation of AI as “moving from autopilot to copilot” in terms of how we can incorporate AI into our work processes.  AI is already second nature to most digital experiences and from automation to job creation, its effects are quickly being felt across the workforce.  

  • Automation and augmentation of tasks:  
     Generative AI will disrupt working patterns as we know them but will also add a new dimension of human/machine collaboration to the workplace. Large Language Models (LLMs) such as ChatGPT will impact 40% of working hours across industries according to Accenture.

    Companies such as Google and Microsoft have started to integrate generative AI technology including LLMs into their workspace software allowing users to maximise the potential of business applications and enhance their work processes.
  • Job displacement: 
    Due to the automation potential of AI, certain jobs will decline in the coming years as AI replaces the need for humans to complete repetitive, manual tasks such as data entry and admin. While many individual tasks can be automated, it is hard to predict precisely how many jobs will be lost due to AI. Research shows anything from 9 – 47% of jobs.  
    The World Economic Forum predicts that the top five jobs that will face a decline in the coming five years are Bank Tellers, Postal Service Clerks, Cashiers, Data Entry Clerks and Administrative Secretaries.  

Since the industrial revolution, technology has always been there alongside a human workforce to streamline processes and make them more efficient. AI has powered online experiences for years, and there will be no exception in how it will increasingly power the workplace.

Final Thoughts

Although many hybrid and remote workplaces were set up practically over night following mandated lockdowns due to Covid-19, companies continue to embrace remote working environments with the help of technology. 

Despite the skepticism over job losses caused by AI, it is poised to create more jobs than it will automate. In order to embrace these opportunities, the workforce will be required to upskill or reskill as an investment in their future.  

Technology has revolutionized how we work since the Industrial Revolution and now with robust digital transformation strategies and technologies such as generative AI, workplaces will continue evolve, no longer relying on physical offices and becoming ever more digitalized and automated.  

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Types of Cybersecurity Threats


In part one of our cybersecurity and digital transformation blog series, we set out the importance of keeping security needs at the forefront of any digital strategy. This installment will present the most common cybersecurity threats that businesses are faced with.

Cybersecurity threats come in various forms from different sources, and can be defined as either passive or active, attacking both operating systems and hardware.  

Passive Threat & Active Attacks

Passive cybersecurity threats are attacks which does not harm a company’s system directly, but information is obtained which may be sensitive data. A hacker will attempt to remain unnoticed while gathering information about the victim’s machine, network, or other systems.  

An active attack encompasses a wide range of different techniques that jeopardises a system’s integrity and availability. This type of attack poses a threat to both the organisation and individuals where a hacker attempts to directly modify resources. Unlike a passive attack, these breaches are more easily identified.  

Cybersecurity threats

Common passive attacks:  

  • Phishing – A common, but effective type of attack typically carried out via email. It is designed to steal users’ credentials and trick them into installing malicious software on their device. Over time, phishing attacks have evolved into more sophisticated and efficient tactics, with attackers frequently utilizing authentic-looking credentials to increase their success rate. 
  • Cyber espionage – Where a hacker accesses, steals, or exposes classified data or intellectual property with malicious intent which can lead to damaging consequences. Common methods include advanced persistent threats (APT), social engineering and spear phishing.  
  • Data packet sniffing – Similar to wiretapping, packet sniffing allows anyone to eavesdrop on computer conversations. An attacker will install hardware or software to monitor, collect and analyse data sent over a network.  

Common active attacks:  

  • Malware – any malicious software which aims to cause disruption or damage a computer, server, or network. Devices can be infected through simple means such as clicking on a suspicious link, but it can allow the hacker access to personal and sensitive information.  
  • Denial of Service (DoS) – An attack carried out by bots designed to flood an organisations system with fake requests, therefore blocking legitimate requests. This type of attack both seriously effects company resources and damages infrastructure.  
  • Domain spoofing – This is another form of phishing where an attacker impersonates a known business or person by using a fake web or email domain hoping to fool people into trusting them as at first glance they often look legitimate. However, users can be tricked into revealing sensitive information, sending money or clicking malicious links.  

Cyberattacks can affect both operating systems and hardware, creating challenges for businesses who wish to fortify their infrastructure against cybersecurity threats. This can create even greater challenge for smaller businesses who are trying to manage this with limited resources. The third installment of this blog series will discuss the challenges caused by these security breaches.  


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Cybersecurity challenges faced by businesses

In part two of our cybersecurity and digital transformation series we detailed the most common forms of cyberattacks. In this blog, we will discuss the biggest cybersecurity challenges facing businesses.

As digital transformation introduces new, and ever evolving technology to small business IT infrastructure, it is inevitable that an organization’s potential attack surface grows, introducing more cybersecurity challenges.  

As they try to navigate a wide range of potential threats, small businesses can struggle to distribute the right resources to ensure they stay safe, meaning they are vulnerable to various cybersecurity challenges such as:   

  • Secure back-up and recovery of data
  • Detection and response to threats and vulnerabilities
  • Supply chain integrity
  • Manage security activities 24/7

Cybersecurity challenges

Secure back-up and recovery of data

One major cybersecurity challenge that small businesses face is the secure back-up and recovery of data. Companies must have adequate systems in place to ensure that their data is securely backed up and recoverable in the event of damage or corruption.  

Data-driven companies, in particular, must protect their information from sophisticated ransomware attacks. As small businesses increasingly include multi-cloud and on-premise storage of data in their IT infrastructures, cyber resilience is essential to ensure business continuity in the event of a data loss. 

Detection and response to threats and vulnerabilities

The vulnerability of cybersecurity breach above and below a company’s operating system will inevitably increase as the business grows. Threats can present themselves in various forms with the intention of accessing, changing, destroying, or deleting information without authorized access.  

The challenge arises for businesses to install the right systems that can promptly identify these threats and adequately defend their IT infrastructure. According to IBM, in 2022 it took an average of 277 days or 9 months to identify and contain a breach. The longer a breach lasts, the greater the strain on a business’ resources.  

Supply chain integrity

Supply chains are a multi-party ecosystem. Businesses rely on advanced technology to support connectivity and sophisticated logistics networks. However, this technology is also vulnerable to attacks, threatening the integrity of supply chain systems. It is vital to maintain the security of the supply chain eco-systems to avoid operational disruptions, lost revenue, jeopardized data, reduced productivity and potential brand and reputation damage. 

Technology supply chains can also be infiltrated with counterfeit devices that have been tampered with. IT teams work hard to secure their infrastructure, but this is a futile activity if a third party does not maintain their defence along the supply chain. Businesses must ensure devices and their components are safe to deploy using secure verification.   

Manage security activities 24/7

With cyber-attacks posing a threat at any time of day, businesses must remain vigilant around the clock. However, companies often face the challenge of not having the necessary resources in house to physically monitor their networks continuously.  

As threats continue to increase in frequency and complexity, efficient threat detection systems are essential in identifying and preventing attacks before any damage can occur. This can mean having to invest in outsourced services to ensure networks are monitored 24/7. 

Small businesses face numerous cybersecurity challenges in the ever-changing landscape of digital transformation. To ensure their safety, companies must prioritize cyber resilience and invest in efficient threat detection systems. By doing so, they can protect their data, maintain supply chain integrity, and prevent cyber-attacks from disrupting their operations. In the fourth and final blog in this series we will lay out the steps you can take to improve your security measures to keep your infrastructure safe.

Part four will conclude this blog series by detailing the steps needed to implement practices that best address your cybersecurity challenges.  


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Cyber Security Research Round Up

Research Round Up

THIS MONTH'S LATEST CYBER SECURITY RESEARCH From security vendors, bloggers, and analysts

Checkpoint Security: Cyber Security Report 2023

Author: Maya Horowitz, VP Research at Check Point Software Technologies

  • “In 2022, the proportion of email-delivered-attacks has increased, reaching a staggering record of 86% of all file-based attacks in-the-wild.”
  • “The Russia-Ukraine war demonstrated how traditional, kinetic war can be augmented by a cybernetic war. It has also influenced the broader threat landscape in the rapid changes of hacktivism and how independent threat actors choose to work for state-affiliated missions.
  • The war has also seen enhanced usage of wiper malware, malware that intends to erase or wipe data of the drive it infects, and this trend has been adopted by several actors, reaching a point where 2022 has seen more wiper attacks globally, than in the previous decade altogether.”

IBM Security Report: Cost of a Data Breach Hits Record High During Pandemic

  • In 2021 systems and software giant, IBM Security found that over half of SMBs had experienced a cyber-attack largely as the result of the pandemic where new hybrid working models were introduced or with the increased migrations to cloud infrastructure.
  • IBM notes that 40% of SMBs do not have comprehensive and updated cyber-security incident plan. Other findings of the IBM research found that or companies with less that 500 employees the cost of an average Cyber breach was around $3m per incident.

Venture Beat/ Forrester 2023 Cyber Security Predictions

  • More than 50% of chief risk officers (CROs) will report directly to the CEO.
  • A C-level executive will be fired for their firm’s use of employee monitoring.
  • A Global 500 firm will be exposed for burning out its cybersecurity employees 
Cyber security research

SecureList by Kaspersky: What your SOC will be facing in 2023

Authors: Sergey Solatov, Roman Nazarov

  • Ransomware will increasingly destroy data instead of encrypting it
  • Public-facing applications will continue to be exploited for initial access
  • More supply chain attacks via telecom
  • More reoccurring targeted attacks by state-sponsored actors
  • Rise in attacks on Media outlets

EMP Research

  • Future-proof: bunkered data centres and the selling of ultra-secure cloud storage
  • Challenges in Protecting Cyber Critical Infrastructure-GOA
  • North Korea’s Satellites Could Unleash Electromagnetic Pulse Attack
  • Critical Infrastructure Cyber Recommendations Go Largely Unaddressed-Nextgov
  • EMP/Solar flare-Grid Down Consulting
  • Infrastructure Security-CISA

Cyber Security Podcasts-Compiled by Fabian Weber

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Related News
Why many firms are adopting a Work From Anywhere strategy

Improve productivity, retain more staff, hire the best talent and reduce office and energy costs.

This month’s Knowledge Exchange will examine why more firms are not only adopting a work from home strategy (WFH) but also a WFA strategy, and what effects this is having on technology purchasing decisions, productivity, staff collaboration, corporate culture, and staff wellness including mental health. It will also examine what potential pitfalls to avoid, when looking to adopt a WFH policy. 


According to the United States Bureau of Labour and Statistics, remote work has risen by 31% in the US in the last couple of years. While many associate this trend as a by-product Covid, allowing staff to work from home has been experimented with since another energy emergency gripped the world back in the 1970s, the Oil Crisis1.

During this time, which scarily mirrors the current energy crisis, rising inflation, the pressure on cost of living and energy, as well as the soaring costs for commuting forced the hand of some companies to allow its knowledge workers, to work from home.

While these experiments were primarily aimed at supporting employees working from home, the proliferation of the Internet, email and other communications technology was making it easier for people to work from other places too such as customer sites, airports, and other places with reliable internet connection. Remember those Internet Cafes in the ‘90s?

Even before the Covid pandemic, around 20% of US workers were already working at home, according to the Pew Research Center. And this trend looked likely to grow, especially in the IT sector. The rapid and widespread onset of Covid naturally accelerated this adoption with office closures and lock downs, in another mass human experiment, this time on how businesses could continue to operate, and workers could effectively work remotely. After three years of WFH experimentation, the genie seems to be truly out of the bottle for a lot of workers with 54% of workers surveyed by Pew expressing a wish to continue to WFH now the pandemic has been declared over.

More recently, WFH has expanded the ability to work from anywhere (WFA) for cohorts of workers and especially Millennials and Gen Z who are attracted to being ‘digital nomads’, living in different parts of the world and working for companies that encourage remote, hybrid, WFH and WFA environments.

Technology, security, and infrastructure considerations

As we examined in last month’s Knowledge Exchange, the move to hybrid cloud is somewhat making it easier for organisations to adopt more WFH and WFA practices as a lot of the concerns of distributed computing can be managed in the cloud and with water-tight IT policies. Of course, the endpoint devices must be secure and have the right anti-virus and anti-malware detection on them as well as virtual private networks (VPNs) to encrypt traffic between the end point and the company environment, but with collaborative cloud-based office platforms, CRMs and video calling and instant messaging tools, the consistent threat to IT managers are the employees themselves and the email inbox!

Despite spam, malware and other malicious software screening, the level of sophistication of hackers and bad actors is constantly putting networks and infrastructures at risk either in a centralised office or in a distributed environment. Throw Artificial intelligence (AI) into the mix and IT Managers have another headache. AI can be immensely helpful in detecting suspicious activity and patterns, but also extremely tricky at the same time to detect as we examined in our recent cybersecurity articles.

Making sure remote workers are regularly trained in IT policy and best practice as a mandatory policy to be able to WFA is a prudent step to take when adopting a WFH/WFA strategy. And in a distributed cloud environment looking at a unified security solution should also be part of the strategy, according to Lloyd Tanaka of Checkpoint Software who thinks:

“Traditionally, organizations have established security protocols in conjunction with internet gateways. However, this approach only works when the number of access points are minimal and controlled, such as in a company’s office building,”

“When it comes to securing a WFA environment, making remote access work for all your employees requires must-haves, including, VPNs, real-time threat intelligence, a Zero-Trust approach to access management, and mobile and Internet of Things (IoT) device security.”

Tanaka also suggests IT Managers think about a unified approach to security in a distributed cloud environment and adopting Secure Access at the Service Edge (SASE) instead of managing point solutions. This, Tanaka suggests allows organisations to protect remote users and offices, consolidate networking and provide security-as-a-service.

“With SASE, organizations can lower OpEx and increase security at scale. Protect your distributed workforce with security that’s simple to implement, easily scalable and offers optimal management controls,” Tanaka said.

87% of employers said they anticipate prioritizing tech and digital infrastructure investments that support sustained remote work, according to the Boston Consulting Group

Lloyd tanaka

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