Generation Novel: Survey Reveals Potential Opportunities and Security Threats CIOs Face with A Hybrid Workforce

BrandPost By Aruba Experts
Nov 04, 2021
Cloud SecurityIT Leadership

The workforce has learned from COVID-19 challenges, and now Generation Novel demands more flexibility, security, and digital-first experiences.

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Credit: iStock

By: Larry Lunetta, Vice President, Solutions Portfolio Marketing, Aruba, a Hewlett Packard company.

Not only has COVID-19 upended the traditional work environment, the resulting work-from-home (WFH) or hybrid-work scenarios have also forced employers and employees to rethink their respective relationships with technology and each other. In short, the reliance on a “virtual” office experience increases the need for secure and reliable remote connectivity that matches what the on-campus network provides.

This shift in the traditional work environment, mindset, and experience of the workforce, has spawned an entirely new cross-generational cohort dubbed “Generation Novel,” or Gen-N, for short. Coined by digital anthropologist Brian Solis, Gen-N describes a collection of people who thrive on digital-first experiences, and place greater value on personalization, customization, and transparency from the brands they buy from, work for, and support. Above all else, they also understand, use, and demand more from technology – both at home and work.

Those changes are evident in a recent study conducted by Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company.

Aruba surveyed 5,018 hybrid workers across five of the largest markets in Europe, where 78% of respondents say they use technology more now than they did before the pandemic. 69% of respondents agree they now have more of an opinion on the technology they use at work and 71% feel it’s important to be able to customize their workplace tech set-up to suit their individual preferences—but within the structure, discipline, and security of a traditional office setting.

The survey data suggests that this emerging generation of hybrid workers, with its evolving behaviors and heightened expectations, will put new demands on employers when it comes to workplace technology, especially connectivity tools. To boost efficiency within the workforce and support employees, businesses must address these new needs. They must strike the balance between an open network that will afford employees the flexibility, freedom, and personalization they now seek, without compromising on security and management.

However, if workforce expectations go unmet, the survey revealed the pressure Gen-N can bring upon employers. Only 38% of respondents say they have any significant choice in their workplace technology; and, without the right technology, workers indicated they will experience decreased productivity (35%) and diminished work/life balance (23%).

Gen-N’s expectations around increased flexibility and confidence in their technical abilities also opens businesses up to additional security risks – for example, 50% of respondents claim they are more likely to try to resolve a tech issue themselves now than they would have been before the pandemic. That increase in self-service technology troubleshooting may lead employees to expose themselves and the corporate network to extended periods of downtime and unforeseen security issues, such as inadvertently downloading malicious software. Meanwhile, more than half (55%) of survey respondents admit to connecting to a non-password protected public network at least once a week, but only a third (33%) consistently think of the security risks in doing so.

Simply opening a VPN connection to the corporate network through a consumer broadband network will not deliver what Gen N workers and the organization require.  To read the full report, including recommendations on the actions business leaders much take to meet the needs of Gen-N in a hybrid workplace, visit.

For more about Aruba’s approach to the hybrid work environment, visit