The COVID-19 pandemic has become the accelerator for one of the greatest workplace transformations in generations – the rise of hybrid working.
How we work, exercise, shop, learn, communicate, and of course, now where we work, has changed, possibly, forever. Businesses need to adapt and change quickly to stay on top of the pandemic-driven innovation curve and to do this effectively, they need the right tools, people, processes and support in place.
With the end of the pandemic in sight, businesses have begun to look into how they can use the new ways of working that were discovered during lockdown. Research carried out by YouGov and CIPD show that the majority of workers want to, at least for some of the time, keep working from home. Call it what you want – remote working, flexible working, agile working, blended working, a dispersed workforce, or hybrid working – they all include the practise of your employee’s splitting their working hours between being in the office and at their home.
Hybrid working: the future of work?
The term ‘hybrid working’ has a slightly different meaning to the others though – it offers choice to your employees. It’s a form of flexible working, where employees generally have the freedom to choose where they work, and when. A hybrid worker may spend 90% of their time remotely working from home, but only come into the office for important meetings. Or, they may simply choose where they work when they wake up that morning.
The purpose of office spaces has also been deeply considered by businesses, reserving the space for meetings and collaboration, and with home working use for individual focus time. Employers are using hybrid practises to maximise returns on office overheads as well as empowering employees with more productive time alone and a better work-life balance.
What IT Solutions are needed to support hybrid working?
We believe there are three things that need to be considered when it comes to hybrid working solutions:
The Wellbeing of your People
Technology allows us to stay connected from anywhere in the world, but there’s a difference between being connected and feeling connected. While your employees might be sending messages via Teams and attending a host of video calls, their emotional connection to your business and the relationships they have with colleagues are what will drive long term engagement. Work is just an extension of life after all.
Create regular opportunities to connect on a personal level. Schedule virtual meet-ups and events, designed specifically for non-work-related chats. From coffee catch ups to virtual wine tasting, there are plenty of things you can do to give your employees the opportunity to socialise while using the technology you provide.
When utilised properly, Microsoft Teams can become a central hub for your business. Teams is a highly customisable, communication and collaboration tool. It allows you to message, chat, call, meet and innovate all in one place, however many places you and your team are in.
Providing the right tech stack for any workforce, whatever their working practices, is crucial to its productivity. The only way a workforce can function efficiently is if it has access to everything it needs. We encourage our clients to adopt software that enables secure and simple file sharing, works on a range of devices and gives workers the power to work on documents simultaneously.
We used to say all roads lead to Rome, now all roads lead to home. But if you build the right tech stack and make it easy to navigate your people will come running back. It is human nature that we generally try to take the path of least resistance. If you use something like Microsoft SharePoint to create a single hub that enables your workforce to get what they need quickly, where they can get answers to key questions, they can get on with their day and you won’t have to force their behaviour, it will happen organically. People will self-serve and try to stay productive rather than waiting for someone else to send them the file they need to complete a task.
One of the challenges is that businesses all reacted to the pandemic differently. Some provided equipment, some asked employees to use their own and of the 61% of businesses that did issue work devices, amazingly, 65% did not deploy any new antivirus solutions for those devices.
To fully protect your remote workers from cyber threats, a comprehensive suite of cyber security services are required to protect users, devices and your data. We recommend a combination of intelligent Next Generation Antivirus software, cloud-based firewalls and Microsoft 365 security products to ensure your business is secured from all angles.
The uptake of hybrid working will differ for every business, and it’s up to you to choose what’s best for you. You could give your employees a regular timetable of where to work, or simply let them choose what works best for them. Consider how to use your office – and whether downsizing is right for you. Think about how to best support the mental wellbeing of any remote employees. Take action to defend against the added cyber security risks that come with home working. And give your employees the tools they need to stay productive despite being dispersed.
Emerge Digital are here to support you on your journey to hybrid working – get in touch today to see how we can implement IT solutions that transform how your hybrid workforce operates.