The workplace of 2024 looks very different than it did just a few years ago. The hybrid work model has evolved to become the predominant approach for many organisations. Employees have grown accustomed to the benefits of flexible schedules and remote work capabilities.

Most organisations recognise that hybrid work is here to stay and are adapting their policies, workspaces and technologies to support collaborative work across distributed teams. Employees increasingly split their time between the office, home, and third spaces like co-working hubs.

Organisations face the challenge of keeping their people connected, engaged and productive regardless of location. They must provide secure access to applications and data from anywhere. Meeting the demands of the hybrid workforce is driving transformations in networks, security, and digital infrastructure.

As we move through 2024, five key trends are redefining the workplace. Organisations that navigate these trends successfully will gain competitive advantage in attracting talent, ensuring strong security, achieving efficiency gains and more. In this article, we will explore these five defining trends and how approaches like SASE and SSE address the needs of the evolved hybrid environment.

Trend 1: Investing in Regional Connectivity

Trend 1: Investing in regional connectivity

The location flexibility of hybrid work is leading to an employee exodus from major cities. With commutes less necessary, knowledge workers are opting to live in more affordable suburbs, commuter towns and regional areas.

This shift is rapidly increasing demand for high-speed, reliable internet connectivity across a wider geography. As discussed in a McKinsey article on modernising networks, the shift to remote work has obliterated traditional network perimeters as employees access applications and data from distributed environments.

Organisations must provide robust networking to employees in regional or remote areas to prevent productivity losses. They are also adopting a “hub-and-spoke” model for offices, with a central hub supporting distributed satellite locations closer to where employees reside.

Network investments by telcos will be crucial to support connectivity beyond urban centres through fibre and LEO technologies. Within organisations, SD-WAN, SASE and managed connectivity services will ensure employees have secure access to applications and reliable collaboration capabilities regardless of where they choose to live.

The workplace is spreading far beyond city limits. Organisations that invest to empower regional hybrid teams will benefit from a broader talent pool and expanded hiring reach.

Trend 2: Enhancing Employee Productivity

Trend 2: Enhancing employee productivity

With hybrid work, the role of the office is transforming into a hub for social connection, collaboration, and culture. HR, facilities management and IT teams are working closely to reimagine office spaces with the employee experience in mind.

The workplace is becoming an energising environment where people come together, rather than just desks and cubicles. Offices now provide space for team building, knowledge sharing, and fostering relationships. Flexible zones cater to different needs – quiet focus spaces, creative areas, casual lounges, and tech-enabled collaboration rooms.

Natural design elements, sustainability, spatial flow, and amenities that enhance comfort are all considerations. Providing an engaging workspace optimises employee satisfaction, creativity, and loyalty.

Of course, reconfiguring offices is just one aspect. Equipping hybrid teams with digital tools for seamless communication and frictionless workflows is equally important. Deploying solutions like cloud telephony, video conferencing, digital whiteboards, and productivity software ensures all employees can collaborate effectively regardless of location.

The evolved workplace focuses on people first, with the employee journey at the centre. This human-centric approach to office and technology design will become a differentiator in recruiting and retaining top talent.

Trend 3: Achieving Sustainability Goals

Trend 3: Achieving sustainability goals

Sustainability has become a strategic priority, with many organisations targeting net zero emissions. Workplace technology and facilities play a key role in reducing environmental impact.

IT teams are working to cut the energy consumption of servers and equipment through steps like virtualisation, hardware refresh, and integrating Cloud services. Cloud providers are also ramping up the use of renewable energy.

Facilities management is optimising building systems for energy efficiency through connected sensors, automation, and turning to renewable power sources. Workplace analytics reveal opportunities to improve sustainability.

Network infrastructure must keep pace to enable a connected, optimised and green workplace. Robust, secure networks are fundamental for environmental initiatives like smart building controls, IoT applications, digital worker analytics, and more.

Organisations also require always-on connectivity to avoid disruptions to critical systems that could jeopardise emissions goals. By modernising networks for agility and resilience, technology provides the foundation for achieving ambitious sustainability targets.

Going green is a rising priority for organisations and talent. An integrated strategy across IT, facilities and the workplace leveraging cloud and connectivity paves the way.

Trend 4: Embracing Cloud and Software-Defined Solutions

Trend 4: Embracing Cloud and software-defined solutions

The pace of digital transformation will accelerate in 2024, as innovations like AI, machine learning and automation are embedded across organisations. To keep up, a modern digital infrastructure is essential.

The on-demand scalability of the cloud allows compute-intensive technologies to be harnessed without investing in owned infrastructure. By leveraging cloud providers’ global scale, organisations can test and deploy advanced capabilities faster.

Equally important is adopting software-defined and automated networks. With network resources virtualised, capacity can be adjusted dynamically based on needs. Automation speeds provisioning and enhances security through central orchestration.

Together, the agility of Cloud and automation of networks provide the speed and flexibility required by today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape. It allows organisations to innovate at the pace of technology, rather than being constrained by legacy systems.

Investing in Cloud and software-defined infrastructure prepares organisations for an AI-enabled future. It is foundational to activating innovations that will shape the workplace experience in coming years.

Trend 5: Bolstering Data Privacy and Security

Trend 5: Bolstering data privacy and security

With hybrid work, cybersecurity threats have evolved. Remote users accessing company data and applications can expose new risks. To strengthen defences, zero trust network access (ZTNA) is gaining adoption.

ZTNA operates on the principle of least privilege. Strict access controls are enforced based on user identity and context. This limits damage from compromised credentials. Multi Factor authentication adds another layer of protection for remote users.

Zero trust network access is a key strategy we also recommend, and is embedded in our approach to securing access in distributed environments via SASE.

Data loss prevention (DLP) tools have also grown more critical. DLP uses deep content inspection, contextual analysis and machine learning to identify sensitive data across networks. Advanced DLP safeguards against data exfiltration across collaboration tools, cloud apps and endpoints.

Also stated in the previously referenced McKinsey article, distributed network architectures can complicate visibility into network traffic and anomaly identification. This makes solutions for monitoring network health and performance critical.

As workplaces support more connectivity use cases, maintaining diligent data protections is imperative. Organisations are tightening controls, increasing monitoring, and continually evaluating access policies to secure the hybrid environment.

With evolving work models, agile security is foundational. Technologies like ZTNA and DLP enable data privacy and low risk, empowering distributed hybrid teams to operate securely.

The Critical Role of SASE and SSE

The trends reshaping the hybrid workplace reveal key connectivity and security needs. Solutions like SASE (Secure Access Service Edge) and SSE (Security Service Edge) address these needs for flexibility, performance and protection.

SASE converges networking and security in the Cloud. It allows organisations to securely connect any user, device or location by abstracting access controls from the underlying network. SD-WAN optimises application performance across edges. Unified threat protection is built-in.

SSE takes a similar cloud-based approach but with a differentiated security stack. It centralises security services like firewalls, sandboxing and data loss prevention and makes them available at scale. SSE simplifies policy enforcement and compliance.

Both SASE and SSE solutions provide identity-based secure access and robust data protections designed for distributed environments. They reduce the network and security overhead of hybrid work through cloud delivery.

As reinforcement for the digital workplace, SASE and SSE enable organisations to empower flexible work without compromising on connectivity, user experience or security.

Preparing for the Future of Work

The workplace continues to undergo a digital transformation. Hybrid work is shaping organisational strategies and enabling new ways of operating through connectivity, collaboration and Cloud.

Competing and staying secure in this evolving landscape requires embracing workplace trends – empowering flexibility, fostering culture, achieving sustainability goals, activating innovation, and elevating data protections.

We help organisations navigate these key shifts defining the workplace of the future. Our platform approach and solutions around SASE, SSE and managed network services are purpose-built for the demands of hybrid work.

To learn more about how you can set your organisation up for hybrid work success, download our latest whitepaper,
Secure Work Strategies: Considerations for 2024.

It provides actionable insights on the trends highlighted in this article, with expert advice on building an agile digital workplace in the year ahead.

Download your complementary whitepaper today

To learn more about how you can set your organisation up for hybrid work success, download our latest whitepaper,