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Welcome to the New Workplace

The pandemic has changed the landscape in which security pros work. Here are five ways how.

Joshua Goldfarb, Global Solutions Architect — Security

June 4, 2021

3 Min Read
(Image: Вадим Пастух via Adobe Stock)

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted us all, some far worse (and tragic) than others. Little by little, we're now seeing signs that life is heading to some sense of new normalcy. Family and friends are reuniting. Businesses are reopening. People are beginning to travel again.

Those in the security profession certainly faced unique challenges as a result of the pandemic. It has changed the landscape in which we work, perhaps, I submit, for the better. Here's how.

Remote Work
I once worked for a manager who liked to say, "If I didn't see you in the office today, you didn't do any work." While this may seem a foolish and Draconian philosophy, it was a fairly common one in the professional world up until very recently. COVID-19 demonstrated that, in many cases, individuals, teams, and organizations could be very effective while working entirely remotely.

For security managers, this changes the recruiting paradigm. For jobs that are located in areas without enough security talent, or for organizations that find candidates who match their needs but are located elsewhere geographically, this is a boon. The pandemic may have been the catalyst our industry needed to help with the critical talent shortage — at least the geographical component of it.

Home Base
I know plenty of security people who, for years, have said they would live somewhere else if only they could be guaranteed they would be able to make a living there. With so many organizations now completely open to remote work that weren't before, the possibilities of where to live have opened up in a way we've never experienced. Of course, there will always be some employers that necessitate geographic proximity, but for those security pros who are truly sincere about moving their home bases somewhere else, opportunities abound.

Different Productivity Metrics
With the move to remote work came the need to measure individual, team, and organizational performance differently. Qualitative metrics based on face time, involvement in certain in-person activities, and time spent in a chair looking busy rapidly became irrelevant. More objective, quantitative, and scientific metrics based on tangible and measurable contributions to projects, producing deliverables on budget and on schedule, and risk mitigation became far more important.

In other words, organizations were forced to evaluate and measure actual work completed, rather than other, softer measurements. For those of us who focus more on work than on tooting our own horns, this is a tremendous positive.

Fast-Talkers, Beware
The pandemic has made it more difficult for manipulators, fast-talkers, and wheelers and dealers to succeed. When asked tough questions or to show their contributions, these types of people typically rely on their in-person charm and wit to change the subject, provide vague, noncommittal answers, and/or introduce ad hominem attacks to take the attention off themselves. But charm and wit don't come across nearly as well via Zoom. In addition, the more objective, quantitative, and scientific metrics mentioned above make it harder for these types to fake their value. 

More Time
Perhaps most importantly, people have gained back a resource that cannot be replaced: time. The hours wasted on commuting and the days wasted on traveling each year pre-pandemic have been drastically reduced. Initially, it was a struggle for many to learn how to cope without in-person meetings. While there may always be certain instances that require an in-person meeting, the number is far fewer than we thought it was before the pandemic. That means more time for our friends and families and less time wasted on less productive activities, such as sitting in traffic, waiting for planes, and overnighting in hotels — in other words, a more balanced life that makes us all better, more motivated workers.

The pandemic has certainly been a time of great suffering for individuals and businesses. Nothing can downplay that fact. But it also has changed the way we work, which I believe is worthy of acknowledgement. 

About the Author(s)

Joshua Goldfarb

Global Solutions Architect — Security, F5

Josh Goldfarb is currently Global Solutions Architect — Security at F5. Previously, Josh served as VP and CTO of Emerging Technologies at FireEye and as Chief Security Officer for nPulse Technologies until its acquisition by FireEye. Prior to joining nPulse, Josh worked as an independent consultant, applying his analytical methodology to help enterprises build and enhance their network traffic analysis, security operations, and incident response capabilities to improve their information security postures. Earlier in his career, Josh served as the Chief of Analysis for the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team, where he built from the ground up and subsequently ran the network, endpoint, and malware analysis/forensics capabilities for US-CERT. In addition to Josh's blogging and public speaking appearances, he is also a regular contributor to Dark Reading and SecurityWeek.

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