Image: Tijana Simic/ iStock

As a system administrator I’ve seen firsthand the challenges posed by a 100% remote working environment. Workers can easily become befuddled and stressed by complex new access methods to perform their work, especially if they were used to just plugging their laptop in at the office and getting where they need to go.

Worse, the sense of disconnect created by being 100% virtual can cause employees to feel less valued, less in touch with company operations and more burdened to have to go the extra mile to get things done.

As a result I’ve seen a lot of good people go on to other pastures and experienced firsthand the effect of the Great Resignation, whereby years’ worth of technical knowledge went out the door, leaving the folks who stayed scrambling to get things done … and some even greater headaches for security, trying to ensure the integrity of information and assets in the wake of these departures.

Teleport released a report on the State of Infrastructure Access and Security, focusing on the Great Resignation, access issues and the complexity of today’s environments.

SEE: IT pro’s road map to working remotely (free PDF)

Key findings

  • The Great Resignation causes security concerns for enterprises—more than half (58%) of IT, devops and security professionals are “concerned” or “very concerned” about ex-employees leaving with secrets and/or knowledge into how their organization accesses infrastructure.
  • 83% of respondents can’t guarantee that ex-employees can no longer access their infrastructure.
  • Managing infrastructure access is a shared responsibility—54% of respondents said three or more departments are responsible for infrastructure access in their organization.
  • Industry professionals recognize an urgent need for new access methods—95% of respondents ”somewhat” or “strongly” agree that greater visibility is critical to their business’ success.
  • The majority of respondents rely on outdated security methods—70% of those surveyed still use passwords to grant infrastructure access, while 53% still use VPNs.
  • Organizations are challenged to make sense of complex architectures—61% of organizations use three or more databases; 60% of organizations are running applications in virtual machines, containers and Kubernetes; 94% of organizations run the Windows operating systems for servers, and 43% also run Linux.
  • Decision-makers prioritize developer productivity when considering infrastructure access technology—84% of respondents view developer productivity as a “big” or “major” factor when considering implementing infrastructure access technology.”

Access issues are fairly cut and dried and can be addressed by using meticulous documentation, centralized access methodologies such as a common virtual desktop infrastructure for user groups and departments that can streamline how workers get to necessary resources, and close communication with team managers and HR to be aware of the comings and goings of employees to ensure access is quickly activated or deactivated as needed.

Yes, it’s more complicated for system administrators at the moment, but a system is a system, and a network is a network, whether it’s on-premises or in a remote/cloud location, and the same standards of access controls—including permissions, roles, groups and firewall rules—still apply.

But how to do you get employees to stay?

The greater challenge involves the mass exodus of employees, a new phenomenon that technology can’t guarantee a solution for. As the saying goes, you can’t make people stay. You have to make them want to stay.

Matt Kunkel, CEO of LogicGate, addressed the topic, and his words painted a more positive set of circumstances than the words “mass exodus” might imply: “There’s an extraordinary war on talent right now. People are leaving jobs in droves, for many different reasons. We’ve seen cybersecurity professionals become increasingly hard to come by, and the salaries for these jobs have gone up exponentially, averaging over $100K annually, and going even as high as $300K. It’s clear companies need to change their strategies for attracting and retaining talent. Thanks to the advancement of technology, people can now work from anywhere. And companies have started hiring well beyond their traditional geographic locations because they know when employees can work virtually, the talent pool becomes endless.”

Kunkel said that the biggest strategic differentiator of any organization is those who devote time and effort to building an amazing culture—one that is employee-driven. Such a culture must be rooted in core values, he stressed, as those become a strategic endeavor for attracting and retaining top talent. In addition, he promoted having a strong, compelling mission, one that goes beyond merely wanting to be the best and beat the competition. “It comes down to how the company is truly changing something, disrupting an industry, making other people’s lives better, giving them a mission to believe in and how they can make a difference,” Kunkel said.

With that in mind Kunkel said the organization should articulate the value a new employee can bring: telling them why they’re the best person for the role and showing them how they can effect change because they have something valuable to offer. “At the end of the day, if it’s just about dollars and cents, people will go work for huge companies willing to throw a bunch of money and stock options at them.”

SEE: Managing remote workers: A business leader’s guide (free PDF)

Ian White, CEO of ChartHop, pointed out that the Great Resignation uncovered new requirements from organizations to build better relationships with their employees, improve engagement and positively influence retention rates. Transparency has become increasingly prominent in the workplace as a result. As industry leaders feel pressure to share company-wide benchmarks and build plans to address gaps in their organization and employee sentiment within their teams, they will seek highly visual, easily accessible people analytics solutions.

“People analytics provides executives, managers and employees with a comprehensive view of an organization, including decisions made as a result of employee feedback, initiatives and ongoing headcount planning. Providing a definitive location for employees to seek information empowers individuals across an organization to feel connected to their employer and, in turn, can improve retention and engagement among employees,” White said.

Mahe Bayireddi, CEO of Phenom, recommended inspiring confidence, loyalty and professional development among existing workforces through a profound employee experience supported by artificial intelligence and automation.

“By streamlining tedious tasks like answering employee FAQs through chatbots, automation saves everyone time so they can focus on the interactions that matter. AI then helps employees expand their current skills and develop new ones by recommending internal, hyper-personalized jobs and gigs. It also empowers employees to envision their future within a company by charting intelligent career paths, and pairing them with compatible mentors who can help them reach their goals—ultimately motivating them to stay and grow,” Bayireddi said.

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