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The Normalization of Hybrid Work

After nearly two years of remote work, millions of knowledge workers will settle into a new cadence in 2022 - routinely working from both their home and office. This transition from full remote to hybrid work presents an opportunity for organizations to create a stable foundation for their employees. By enabling them with the policies, tools, and leadership they need to minimize disruptions, employees can take full advantage of their new hybrid work environment securely and productively.

While we can rest assured that this shift will be less dramatic than the one that occurred in the early months of 2020, IT and cybersecurity leaders are weighing many considerations to determine how best to support their hybrid workforce for the long term. In this article, I've assembled a list of predictions for 2022 based on recent conversations with business and IT leaders.

Hybrid Work Becomes Permanent

After many deadlines for return to office were pushed back, more and more organizations will formalize the adoption of hybrid work on a permanent basis this year. This will put additional pressure on security modernization initiatives, which took a back seat to network expansion for most organizations during the pandemic. According to the State of Hybrid Workforce Security 2021, 61% of organizations struggled to provide the necessary remote security to support work-from-home capabilities.

When employees are in the office, expect to see even greater pressure on the WAN due to increased usage of collaboration tools and video, further driving the need for SD-WAN.

The End of Remote Access VPN

Out of necessity, many organizations reacted to the pandemic by rapidly expanding their legacy VPN capabilities. But VPN was never intended to be used at such scale, and organizations are transitioning to SASE in order to provide scalable, secure access at the edge.

While this transition won't happen overnight, 2022 will see a groundswell of adoption for SASE, which can provide secure remote access to applications and services based on defined access control policies. Beyond improving scalability and user experience, organizations that adopt this approach will improve their security posture and better align with the principles of Zero Trust.

Office Reunions in the Age of Hybrid Work

As organizations and workers determine what the new normal of hybrid work will look like, expect office attendance to come in waves that ebb and flow depending on local and national regulations, business needs, and employee preferences.

This dynamic will challenge IT teams to provide consistent experiences - in how users interact with and engage with various enterprise applications and access data and other services across all locations - home office, branch offices, and corporate campuses - and drive interest in emerging technologies like Digital Experience Management.

A Resurgent Consumer with High Expectations

Despite the current wave of infections from the Omicron variant, the combination of pandemic fatigue and effective medical treatments will drive consumers to shop, dine, travel and experience more in 2022 than in the last two years. Organizations should be prepared to serve these customers and engage with them through digital and in-person experiences - emphasis on experiences; expectations will be for enhanced, personalized, and high-performance experiences.

IT leaders are finding it increasingly important to get a complete view into the user experience journey across the entire network infrastructure - and all points within a service delivery chain - and autonomously remediate user connectivity issues. Autonomous Digital Experience Management (ADEM) is an emerging technology that can help organizations meet these enhanced consumer expectations.

Securing Home Environments will Become the Next Frontier for Network Security

Now that hybrid work has become normalized, the home network is in many ways the weakest link for attackers into an enterprise. At home, work is more likely to be done from personal devices and accounts, providing soft targets that operate outside the visibility of the security team. In 2022, the home office will become a place of shared cybersecurity responsibility between the enterprise and its employees.

SASE is the Architecture for Our Hybrid Work World

Today, we have a unique opportunity to re-architect our networks to be as flexible and scalable as we need; to reimagine security as something built-in rather than bolted-on; and to put the user at the center of everything, creating countless possibilities and enabling the future of work. I encourage you to explore how Prisma SASE can help your organization succeed with the transition to hybrid work in 2022 and beyond.

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