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Ask The Experts: Jeremy Hendy, CEO, RepKnight

Advancements in technology, more distributed workforces and an overhaul in the preferences, and mentalities of today’s workers are driving a fundamental shift in the way today’s businesses must operate. Our Ask The Experts blog series sees the UK Fuze team interview IT and business leaders about their approach to workplace collaboration, the challenges they face in 2019 and how their organizations are preparing for the future of work. First up is Jeremy Hendy, CEO of cybersecurity company RepKnight, a company that specializes in dark web monitoring by screening for and alerting businesses to leaks of their data in real time.

1. What trends do you see defining workplace communication in 2019?

From a communications standpoint, flexible working and cloud computing are going to be key. Our London team works in a shared office that has no corporate network, with email, CRM and communications all in the cloud. With people working in increasingly nomadic environments, this mentality of being a part of an organization without necessarily having to work inside a set location is true for many teams across the world.

Workers now expect to be able to use their own devices and logins or join a team meeting from outside of the office. Gone too are the days of “jobs for life”, where an employee is part of the same organization for their entire career. Essentially, today’s workers want to be a part of the team regardless of where they are and what software or devices they use.

2. How do you ensure collaboration is happening effectively across your business without people working in silos?

Whether it’s teams across continents or over different floors of the same building, as soon as people stop communicating you’ve got a barrier to productivity. There’s a time and place for lengthy email chains, but in a busy work environment, these aren’t always productive.

Regular contact, whether it’s face-to-face or via a more casual messaging system can help encourage quick check-ins to stop team members from going off on a tangent or wasting time focusing on the wrong things. However, at the end of the day, everybody works differently, so communication tools need to give the features that allow each member of the team to work in the way that best suits them.

3. What are the biggest collaboration challenges facing enterprises in 2019?

Communication between teams is really important. Even as a relatively small team split across two offices, we know that communication can easily break down. When workforces are distributed in this way and it’s no longer possible to get people physically meeting or even chatting around the coffee machine, it can be a real challenge. Effective communication that is not restricted to geographies is vital to overcoming this and keeping everyone on the same page.

In terms of more general enterprise IT challenges, the big concern in the enterprise space at the moment has to be data breaches and GDPR. Under these new rules, there can be massive financial penalties if customer data is lost or stolen, but the sad truth is that in today’s world, most large companies face regular hacking threats. It’s not a question of when you get hacked, it’s when you find out you’ve been hacked.

4. What has greater flexible working meant for the security industry?

There’s a significant security element to people working from home and being more disjointed as a workforce. We regularly see large enterprises using hundreds or even thousands of different apps. If an app does not require admin privileges, is free, or can be bought on a company credit card, it means that corporate data is flowing through this completely unknown software.

For the younger generation, asking permission to install an app is not something they are used to. While this proactive approach to productivity is great, this sort of shadow IT is a huge problem in terms of the potential for data loss.

A single, IT-approved platform that lets you run calls, use IM and share your screen at the same time without the security risks is often a real challenge for enterprises.

5. Do you notice a disconnect in working styles between those of different ages across RepKnight?

The younger members of our team are used to being constantly connected and, as such, the boundary between work and life is much more blurred. If we told them to switch off all their devices at the door, prohibiting their access to apps or social media, and asked them to work exclusively on a company-provided device we’d have a revolt on our hands.

However, from what I’ve seen, the younger generation does have a better view on work-life balance in terms of working when and where suits them best. We see this in practice in our London office, where different areas suit different ways of working. A collaborative environment does mean a lot more data has to be accessible on the cloud, however, which brings back those security concerns. That data is really valuable and what we do our best to protect.

Jeremy Hendy is the CEO of RepKnight. If you are a business leader and would like to take part in our #AskTheExperts series, contact Fuze.

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