Hybrid Workers Bring Dangerous Hybrid Habits: New Aruba Survey Uncovers Emerging Security Threats Linked to ‘Generation Novel’

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Business leaders must strike a balance between flexibility and security to address risky behaviours and evolving expectations of today’s tech-savvy workforce

Morten Illum, Vice President, EMEA for Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company

Dubai, UAE: After years of responding to the needs of Gen X and Gen Y, a new study from Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, suggests employers have a whole new generation to grapple with post-pandemic – with 85% of hybrid workers saying they identify with the traits of the emerging Generation Novel (Gen-N). 

Coined by digital anthropologist Brian Solis, Gen-N describes a cross-generational cohort of people who thrive on digital-first experiences, and place greater value on personalization, customization, and transparency from the brands they buy from, work for, and support. Above all else, they also understand, use and demand more from technology than ever before – both at home and work.

According to the study of 5,018 hybrid workers across EMEA, 78% of respondents say they use technology more now than they did before COVID-19, and 75% consider themselves to be ‘digitally savvy’. Sixty-nine percent of respondents agree they now have more of an opinion on the technology they use at work and 71% feel it’s important to be able to customize their workplace tech set-up to suit their individual preferences.

The survey also revealed the risks this new generation will bring to the workplace if their expectations continue to go unmet. As it stands, only 38% of respondents say they have any significant choice in their workplace technology. Without the right technology, workers indicated they will experience decreased productivity (35%) and a poorer work/life balance (23%). Gen-N’s expectations around increased flexibility and confidence in their technical abilities also opens businesses up to a number of security risks relating to where, when, and what employees connect to the network – with 50% of respondents, for example, claiming they are more likely to try to resolve a tech issue themselves now than they would have been before the pandemic. 

Additional key findings from the report reveal:

Hybrid workers have a new perspective on the role of workplace technology:

  • 80% of our respondents say their company must maintain policies that encourage healthy technology use.
  • While 73% believe technology has a role to play in fostering an inclusive environment in the new hybrid workplace, 44% believe it is not currently doing so. 

Hybrid workers bring new risks to the workplace if their needs go unmet: 

  • When encountering a tech issue at work, nearly three quarters (74%) of hybrid workers say they expect it to be resolved in 20 minutes or less – and over two fifths (42%) in under 10 minutes.
  • Over half (55%) of our survey respondents admit to connecting to a non-password protected public network at least once a week, but only a third (33%) consistently think of the security risks in doing so. 
  • Meanwhile, as many as 82% are still using their personal mobile device to access work information.

“Our research suggests that this emerging generation of hybrid workers, with its evolving behaviours and heightened expectations, will put new demands on employers when it comes to workplace technology,” said Morten Illum, Vice President, EMEA for Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company. “In order to mitigate the security risk that Gen-N poses, as well as boost efficiency within their workforce and support their employees, businesses must address these new needs. Striking the balance between an open but secure network will afford employees the flexibility, freedom and personalization they now seek, without compromising on security.”

About Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company:

Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, is the global leader in secure, intelligent edge-to-cloud networking solutions that use AI to automate the network, while harnessing data to drive powerful business outcomes. With Aruba ESP (Edge Services Platform) and as-a-service options, Aruba takes a cloud-native approach to helping customers meet their connectivity, security, and financial requirements across campus, branch, data center, and remote worker environments, covering all aspects of wired, wireless LAN, and wide area networking (WAN).

Report Research Methodology

The survey was conducted among 5,018 hybrid workers from the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy. The interviews were conducted online by Sapio Research in August and September 2021 using an email invitation and an online survey.

Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of the percentages expressing the results. In this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 1.4 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample.