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Why cyber firms must embrace remote working… or lose staff

By embracing flexible working, companies can plug the cyber talent gap and improve employee retention


Global businesses have navigated a steep learning curve over the last few years. Many firms failed to change and are no longer with us, while others adapted to survive because they understood that staying successful meant staying current.  

We are talking about flexible working, which can come in all shapes and sizes. It can include working from home, job shares and splitting hours throughout the day. It was seen a few years ago as an excuse for people looking to get out of work. Now, the UK government plans to make flexible working a default option for employees from day one.  

Nowadays, it is understood by the most successful organisations that flexible working improves productivity and raises happiness in employees. But shockingly, there are still some clinging to their outdated beliefs.  

We performed a series of CIISec (Chartered Institute of Information Security) Member Discussion Groups looking at how flexible working is viewed within different sectors.

Flexible working is proven to improve staff retention

 The public sector, in particular, still holds onto old notions towards those who require certain times of the day off, for duties like childcare. The police, for example, still hold intrinsically stigmatised views evident in the use of acronyms like WWF (won’t work Fridays) and WWW (won’t work weekends).  

But this paradigm needs to shift, not just for the sake of employees, but the organisations they work for.  

An unhappy employee forced to work a contract that doesn’t accommodate them is only going to stick around for so long. Recruiting into an entry role costs time and money. So keeping turnover to a minimum leaves more time and money for production. 

What’s more, utilising multiple part-time employees is another option proposed by one of our discussion groups. It means that should one person leave, there will be continuity within the role.  

Another one of our CIISec groups discussed the hiring of managers. From their collective experience, they found a great return of investment when embracing flexible working as an option when hiring senior staff.

As a result, they found that they did not need to shift towards hiring multiple part-time employees. By embracing flexible working, the skills gap within their company could be readily filled.

Remote working widens the talent pool

Flexible working brings many new opportunities to businesses, as does working from home. With the ability to hire anyone from anywhere, the available talent pool is bigger than ever before. Not only does it mean businesses can hire people from all over the country, it also allows companies to tap into experienced professionals who aren’t yet ready to retire completely.

From COOs to CISOs, there is a lot of high-level talent available to businesses who are embracing flexible working. It is easy to understand why so many businesses are revolutionising the way they work: because it improves the business.  

Those who do not embrace new opportunities brought on by the cultural shift are falling into the same problems of old. In our discussion groups we found several people have had responsibilities forced upon them with no proactive training, because there is no one else to do it. If the organisation embraced the new remote working talent pool they wouldn't have such a problem.  

It is unfortunate that some companies block progression of employees who work under flexible working conditions, with the view being that senior staff have to be in the office 9am-5pm first and foremost. As a result, the talent and capacity of an individual becomes secondary, and organisation risk losing talent to competitors who recognise the future of work is remote.

The 5th annual State of Remote Work report by Owl Labs found that one in three employees would look for another job if they could not work flexibly, with a further 18% still undecided.

The future of work has changed – for the better

 Our discussion groups shone a light on the difference between organisations who are embracing the revolution within work and those who are unwilling to. The reality is that those who aren’t prepared to offer work flexibility to their employees risk losing them.  

The Office for National Statistics has found that the number of vacancies in the current job market is at a record high. Talented employees will no longer tolerate a non-flexible working situation. Instead, frustrated employees will leave and these organisations will be caught wasting time and resources retraining employees, only to see them leave a year or two later.  

The shift within work has been accelerated by outside factors, but that doesn't mean it is going to go backwards. The future of work has arrived.

This paper was authored by CIISec fellows: Melanie Oldham OBE, founder and CEO of Bob’s Business; Sarah Janes, owner and managing director of Layer 8; and Owanate Bestman, founder and director of Bestman Solutions.

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