The Cloud Lounge – Episode 1

In this first episode, Zeshan Randhawa discusses the future of the workplace post-pandemic with Shaun Roberts, President of Softlanding. Together, they explore the evolving trends of the hybrid workplace, and Shaun shares his experience of being at the forefront of managing the hybrid workplace.

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Welcome to the Cloud Lounge. I’m your host Zeshan and we have a very relevant topic for today’s podcast. It’s all about what the workplace of the future looks like. So what do I mean by this? Well, it’s been over a year and a half now that our world has turned upside down and there have been some positive effects on the workplace and some negative ones. And what I want to do today is take a look at what the trends are evolving with this emerging hybrid workplace and really get some insight on the topic from someone who is at the forefront of managing these trends within their organization. So let’s start with the obvious first trend. It definitely looks like more and more employees will continue to choose to work from home. No surprises there.

According to PWC Canada, prior to the pandemic, most Canadian employees around 82% work primarily from an office. Today, that’s down to 27% with 59% working remotely and purely based on how long it’s been again, about over a year and a half. That’s had some lasting effects on people’s habits. Just think about it on a day to day basis, how they work, where they work and when they work. Following this trend. It doesn’t take psychic abilities to predict that the post pandemic office may be different for many Canadians. Many Canadians prefer to remote work and have flex hours. And according to the ADP survey, 45% of working Canadian survey said they would prefer to work remotely at least three days a week and more than a quarter would prefer to work flex hours. You know organizations are really seeing this trend and ingesting accordingly. I personally know of a few organizations that have really chosen to scale back their physical office expansion or change their plans quite drastically on what their in house seating really looks like. So we know more and more people want to work remotely and now what does that translate into for your IT infrastructure and the ability to support those people working remotely cybersecurity experts predict that in this year 2021 there will be cyber attack incident every 11 seconds. This is nearly twice what it was in 2019 which was about in every 19 seconds And four times the rate five years ago. About 40 seconds in 2016. And the astonishing statistics continue.  Fishing increased in 2020 to account for one in every 4,200 emails and remote work has increased the average cost of data breach by $137,000. Cloud based cyberattacks rose 630% between January and April of 2020. So, all in all remote workers have caused security breach in 20% of organizations but alarming element to all this is 95% of cyber security breaches are caused simply by human error. I know here at Softlanding we’ve actually seen a lot of increase in organizations undertaking engagements to evaluate and uplift their security posture. And a lot of these clients are investing in internal marketing campaigns as well to combat fishing and really get ahead of that human error element when it comes to cybersecurity.

So let’s switch gears. I would like to bring in my guest for today Sean Roberts, he’s the president of Softlanding and in March 2020 he was in the driver’s seat navigating Softlanding through the pandemic. Welcome to the Cloud Lounge Sean. Thank you. Happy to be here. So Sean, I’ve mentioned a few trends that people are seeing out there in the post covid workforce. I’d love to hear what your experience has been at Softlanding. What kind of adjustments have you had to make? We are in a more fortunate position than a lot of organizations at the start of this and that we’re in IT services, cloud specialist organization and we had the skills to be able to pretty rapidly shift to a fully remote workforce. Where we have made some adjustments is the checkpoints that we all have. So as an Executive Team for example, we now have a check in at the end of every day trying to keep in touch with what’s going on with each other. We would have conversations in the office when we were in the office. Now there’s a little bit more purposeful interaction on a regular cadence that I think helps keep us all connected and up to speed. We’ve also had to adapt our hiring to be fully remote, which has been somewhat of a challenge. But it’s also opened up our thinking about where we hire. It no longer really matters where it’s about where the talent is not where people live. So it’s in some ways it’s enabled a wider candidate pool for our hiring.

So, for some folks working from home is something that they’ve been doing for a long time, but for many this is all new. Sean in your opinion, how can organizations manage their hybrid workforce? I think the most important thing for organizations to help their workforce in the hybrid scenario is to be flexible is to understand that the situations are different for everyone that people may need to adjust not only where they’re working from being from home but also the time of day that they work working around children activities and so on. So, allowing scenarios where people can adapt their workday to be productive, both from a personal standpoint and from a work standpoint. So, I talked about increased cyberattacks and technology gaps and organizations kind of being exposed for you. How can IT support the hybrid workplace and whether that is Softlanding looking inwards or Softlanding as a professional services provider. You know, helping other organizations as well? I think you hit on a key point and that is that security is more critical than it’s ever been with people working from home. And I think that the cyber criminals out there are capitalizing on that. I think one of the important things is providing transparent security tools so that people are protected from cyber attacks even without realizing that they’re being protected. Things like replacing links and emails with a sandbox scenario that checks it before it’s actually open so that people can mistakenly click on the wrong thing because the majority of ransomware attacks, that’s how they start is somebody clicking something innocently in an email. And the next thing, you know, there’s a lock box on their screen asking for Bitcoin. More human error. Another piece that’s going to become more and more prevalent is creating scenarios for hybrid meetings where there are people who are maybe in the office while there’s other people that are remote, often, you know, those scenarios are very awkward. People who are online,  can can easily feel a little bit isolated from those that are in the room. And so coming up with both the technology and the methodology within a meeting workspace, such that everybody feels part of it regardless of where they’re physically sitting. So as I mentioned earlier, you know, some folks are used to the at home working scenario while others are not. It might be a tougher transition for them to this new hybrid workplace. What steps do you believe organizations can take to make this an easier cultural shift for these folks? I think communication and transparency are more important than they’ve ever been before. I think people appreciate those things in a traditional work setting, but they become much more critical when people are remote, it’s easy to feel disengaged. The more you know about what’s going on in an organization, the more you feel that you understand why things are being done and how things are being done, the more likely you are to stay connected. You know, in my opinion, the best cultures happen organically. It’s the little things, you know, it’s the way an organization treats its people, it’s the way that people interact with each other and some of those things can fall into the background when, when everybody’s remote. So as much as culture is organic, I think organizations are going to try and find ways to nurture it a little bit more actively than you know, just letting it happen like many organizations did when everyone was in the office. Thanks for that conversation Sean, I appreciate your time and I thank you again for your insight into this hybrid workplace discussion. Thank you Zeshan, it’s been a pleasure, I appreciate being a guest. You know, pre pandemic, we would have had the why discussions with clients, why should they be adopting cloud technologies? Why cloud platforms such as Microsoft 365 are secure post pandemic. The discussion has changed completely to how how discussion how can we quickly adopt these technologies? How can we add additional security? How can we clean up our environment or we do what we’ve had to kind of shoehorn in in the last year and a half. Companies were really caught in a difficult predicament. In March of 2020 a lot of technology gaps were revealed and according to surveys only 28% of organizations believed they were fully prepared for what came with the pandemic. As a result of the technology gaps uncovered by having mostly remote workforce, 70% of IT decision makers globally are reevaluating their budgets spend, they’re readjusting what their area of focus is and how they should be facilitating the general hybrid workforce. And companies are increasing investment in remote technology resources or a hybrid of remote and in office resources.

Thank you for joining us at The Cloud Lounge and exploring this hybrid workplace and thanks again to Sean Roberts for his insight on this evolving workplace. Until next time. Take care.


Written By:


Softlanding is a long-established IT services provider of transformation, professional services and managed IT services that helps organizations boost innovation and drive business value. We are a multi-award-winning Microsoft Gold Partner with 13 Gold Competencies and we use our experience and expertise to be a trusted advisor to our clients. Headquartered in Vancouver, BC, we have staff and offices in Toronto, Montreal and Calgary to serve clients across Canada.

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