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The Next Normal: How to Prepare Your Workforce for the Next Big Pivot

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If there is one thing 2020 made abundantly clear, it’s that the way in which workers operate will never be the same. As employees rushed to set up monitors and home offices in their new environments, businesses across the world were recognizing an inevitable reality: that this new lifestyle was here to stay.

“As this progresses, the next normal is going to be about mobility and flexibility. We’ve got a taste of this working from home thing that [we’ve] never had before, and they’re going to want to do both, which is going to bring on new challenges.”

Welcome to the “Next Normal,” where new remote working demands are establishing a host of lifestyle changes for employees, and concurrently creating a larger list of challenges for their employers. On this episode of IT Visionaries, Kim Huffman, the VP of Global IT at Elastic, opens up about distributed workforces and why Elastic believes strongly in them. But she is honest about the obstacles that work from anywhere creates when it comes to managing the endpoints of your fleet, and she discusses how IT leaders can handle the transition.

Main Takeaways

  • Know Your Fleet: For distributed teams, having an understanding of your endpoints is critically important. You need to always be thinking about where you are most vulnerable at those endpoints, and the points of attack they may be opening themselves up to to understand how they can be as secure as possible. Managing your endpoint
  • Drink Your Own Champagne: One of the more important operating principals  at Elastic is its ability and willingness to test its own products in-house. When you beta test your apps with your own team, it affords you the opportunity to fix bugs or breakdowns within the system prior to that product ever reaching the customer.
  • Is This Secure? Just because you are operating on a VPN network, does not necessarily mean your network is secure. Even when you are on VPN, the user is still subjected to various forms of cyberattacks. As IT leaders, it’s important to constantly be evaluating the incoming information from your devices and managing them at their endpoints.

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For a more in-depth look at this episode, check out the article below.


If there is one thing 2020 made abundantly clear, it’s that the way in which workers operate will never be the same. As employees rushed to set up monitors and home offices in their new environments, businesses across the world were recognizing an inevitable reality: that this new lifestyle was here to stay.

“As this progresses, the next normal is going to be about mobility and flexibility. We’ve got a taste of this working from home thing that [we’ve] never had before, and they’re going to want to do both, which is going to bring on new challenges.”

Welcome to the “Next Normal,” where new remote working demands are establishing a host of lifestyle changes for employees, and concurrently creating a larger list of challenges for their employers. On this episode of IT Visionaries, Kim Huffman, the VP of Global IT at Elastic, opens up about distributed workforces and why Elastic believes strongly in them. But she is honest about the obstacles that work from anywhere creates when it comes to managing the endpoints of your fleet, and she discusses how IT leaders can handle the transition.

When the COVID-19 pandemic first struck, and work from home orders began going into effect, business leaders started to ponder how they could mobilize their workforce. For Elastic and Huffman, they were fortunate. With a staff distributed by design, a lot of the headaches most companies were experiencing were non-existent. Elastic deploys a distributed workforce, promoting a lifestyle that is both beneficial to its employees, while allowing the organization the opportunity to remain agile and have the ability to access talent across all seven continents.

But while work from home is not new to Elastic, Huffman said they did have to double down on some of the tools its employees utilized — especially forms of technology that were centered around collaboration.

Some of the issues Huffman saw her peers were experiencing were obstacles centered on their on-premises data centers, employees looping into their networks via their home office, and also the struggles of onboarding new employees remotely. Since Elastic was already efficient in this process, she offered up some advice, stating that IT and technology leaders should focus on two key categories: the ability to understand your fleet and the way those devices stay connected to your network.

“There’s management of devices and then there’s connectivity,” Huffman said. “So fleet management, when an individual employee joins Elastic, we do a hundred percent remote onboarding. We’ve already built in the capability to know what’s happening at that end point, regardless of where they are in the world. Then we [can] actually pump that information back. We’ve got endpoints installed in all of our fleets. Meaning we have sensors that are a bit more advanced than your typical malware, where they actually are pulling the information back to a server.”

The growing list of challenges that companies face has been making sure their employees have access to a secure network continues to increase. While cloud-based software has made it easy for companies to deploy collaboration tools, the same cannot necessarily be said for the need to secure ways for employees to share sensitive information with their network, especially as cybersecurity attacks continue to be on the rise.

“People can be on a VPN and be totally secure and still be up for increased cybersecurity risk,” Huffman said. “There are tons of phishing attacks and PPE emails that go out and someone clicks on the wrong thing and their machine is exposed.” 

Huffman views this solution as two-fold. Companies need to be making sure that there is a safe, secure, and reliable VPN infrastructure, and then if your system is breached,, ensure that you are responding to make it even more secure for the user.

While it’s important from a technological standpoint to make sure your employees are equipped and ready for anything, Huffman conceded that the work-from-home lifestyle that her employees are experiencing now is vastly different than the one they familiarize themselves with prior to the start of the pandemic.

“Our employees, even though they’re used to doing this distributed by design concept, it’s different for them,” she said. “As an organization, we have doubled down on things to help support them emotionally with tools and solutions.”

Some of the workplace culture items Elastic has added to continue to build morale within its workforce includes adding additional COVID-relief PTO, while also deploying more communication tools and tactics.

“The Elastic journey itself has always been very important,” Huffman said. “It’s always been important to have our employees feel like they can get help. And especially in this time of where they’re remote and they’re feeling isolated, we’re trying to deploy as much self-service as we can from an IT standpoint and from an HR standpoint. We are over-communicating and we’ve been extremely transparent… I’ve been proud of the way that we’ve handled it.”

To hear more about the Elastic journey and for best practices on deploying distributed workforces, check out the full episode of IT Visionaries. 

To hear the entire discussion, tune into IT Visionaries here

Episode 230