The Future of Hybrid Work
Last year many companies went remote for the first time. There were challenges, but closing down wasn’t an option. Now, more than a year later, leaders continue to face ongoing disruptions, and it’s time to shift from reactive to proactive measures. Flexible workplaces — both remote and hybrid work environments — provide a solution. Below, we’ll explore the role of business technology and how your company can use it to flourish in the coming years.
Business Technology: A Competitive Advantage
The future of work isn’t remote or on-site; it’s adaptive. According to Deloitte, an adaptive space allows your employees to “work from anywhere” but empowers them to “work from where they’re most productive.”
Studies show that workplace flexibility can increase employee well-being, improve hiring and retention efforts, and enhance customer experiences. In return, these improvements have positive business impacts.
The 2019 Global Happiness and Well-Being Policy Report finds that “higher employee well-being and satisfaction scores” result in a:
- 31% increase in customer satisfaction
- 20% boost to employee productivity
- 16% growth in business profitability
- 25% reduction in employee turnover
These benefits are why many leaders shift to hybrid work. Accenture reports, “63% of high-growth companies have already adopted a “productivity anywhere” workforce model.” However, companies need to identify and deploy the right tools to use business technology successfully. Doing so requires an assessment of your office and digital workspaces, technology stacks, and culture.
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Focus on the Human Experience
Your team members are the heart of your business. And, increasingly, they want flexibility in how, where, and when they work. A Harris Poll on behalf of Sungard AS finds, 78% of surveyed workers “believe they would be more productive if they could choose to work on-site or remotely as needed.”
Therefore your business technology should support them as they transition between on-site and remote work. Teams need infrastructure that promotes continuous knowledge sharing and collaboration from anywhere.
Selecting the right tools and devices requires cooperation between IT leaders, human resources professionals, and employees. Important issues to tackle include:
- Think about the workspaces necessary for executing various tasks
- Learn how people work in hybrid teams compared to existing workflows
- Identify business technology that enhances performance and efficiency
- Define boundaries for remote and hybrid communication
Develop Adaptive Workplaces
A piecemeal approach to choosing and deploying technology may have got you through 2020, but it’s not sustainable for the long term. The future of hybrid work blurs the lines between remote and on-site staff. It lets workers seamlessly transition between both.
Instead of strictly on-site or fully remote meetings, companies use video conferencing tools and digitally-equipped office spaces to host blended meetings. In addition, digital collaboration platforms, such as Microsoft Teams, offer internal hubs where teams can interact in real-time or according to their own timetable.
Business technology and adaptive environments let teams view project progress, assign or accept tasks, and leave feedback. Employees can pick the communication methods that work best for them, whether that’s via voice, chat, or video technologies.
Fluid workspaces increase accessibility and support diversity and inclusion efforts. Moreover, they can deliver a sense of belonging, even for those who can’t come into the office.
Provide Employees With the Right Tools and Resources
Access to resources makes the difference between productive and non-productive people. While both groups face similar stressors, ultimately, those with the right technology tools and support from supervisors perform better than those without.
Although a Gartner survey shows that 35% of workers increased their productivity when working from home, 15% said it decreased. For those noticing lowered productivity, the top reasons were technology changes and connectivity issues. The Sungard AS poll notes that 54% of workers consider high-speed internet essential to working from home, and 37% say “IT support that specializes in remote workers is a must-have.”
To use business technology effectively, companies should provide:
- Digitally-equipped office and meeting spaces
- Best practices and use cases for when to use various technology platforms
- Appropriate cloud-based software and user-friendly devices
- Remote user support, including self-service apps and live chat
- Worker well-being and mental health tools
Equip Teams With the Best Skills for Hybrid Work
Employees also need the skills to succeed in a hybrid work environment. According to Deloitte’s 2021 Global Human Capital Trends, 72% of surveyed executives say “that the ability of their people to adapt, reskill, and assume new roles was one of the most important factors in their ability to navigate future disruptions.”
For starters, your management teams benefit from learning how to supervise hybrid teams and approach output-based performance management. Likewise, cloud-based training tools combined with engagement through online and in-person channels prepare staff for the future of work.
Improve employee performance and ensure they feel capable of doing their job by offering:
- Worker-to-worker mentoring and training
- Assistance with individual workplace optimization
- Reskilling and retraining opportunities
- Guidance for adapting to new processes
Prioritize Cybersecurity in Your Company
Both remote and hybrid work comes with increased security risks. On the one hand, remote staff may use devices for personal and professional tasks or lack advanced malware tools. On the other hand, every time a hybrid worker comes to the office, there’s a risk of them bringing malware with them.
The Netskope Cloud and Threat Report says, 83% of users access personal apps on corporate devices. In addition, in 2020, “61% of all malware was delivered via a cloud app, up from 48% year-over-year,” and cloud apps are the target of 36% of phishing campaigns.
Although the risks are increasing, employees want to help. According to the Sungard AS poll, 45% of employees believe “software that keeps work devices secure while working remotely” is necessary. Moreover, 41% want an “easy-to-use system for securely sharing files with co-workers.”
To thrive in the future of hybrid work while protecting your business and data, leaders can:
- Secure your virtual private networks (VPNs)
- Ensure employees use multi-factor authentication
- Offer ongoing cybersecurity training
- Assess potential vulnerabilities and fix them
Use Business Technology to Enhance Your Culture
Culture affects business outcomes. But, it can be challenging to bring your company’s culture into hybrid workplaces. The Sungard AS poll finds that although 68% of workers “feel their company offers the right technology for them to work remotely, less than half of employed adults believe their company is culturally prepared to offer remote work to everyone.”
Large-scale change doesn’t happen overnight, so you have time to assess how your teams are adapting and where your technology or staff skills fall short.
Consider taking the following steps to ensure a smooth roll-out of your hybrid work program:
- Create a strategy: It should aim to foster relationships and build teams that aren’t reliant on in-person interactions.
- Prioritize employee well-being: Identify tech tools and activities that support mental health and encourage open communication.
- Recognize team advocates: Enlist champions to support your efforts, share your wins, and convey the needs of your team.
- Develop new expectations: Hybrid work requires changes to how employees engage, collaborate, and relate to each other.
- Focus on transparency: Communicate successes and challenges while answering questions using your business technology platforms.
Unleash Your Hybrid Workforce
The technology space is rapidly evolving. Staying on top of the latest collaboration apps and techniques helps improve the virtual and hybrid work experience. Fortunately, the digital workplace ecosystem is purpose-built, meaning you have opportunities at every step to assess what’s working and adapt your methods.
By preparing for the future of hybrid work, you can empower your teams and ensure your business technology serves on-site and remote workers equally.
|Learn how Cox Business can help your employees thrive in a hybrid work environment. Learn More|
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- The Breach Within – How to Address the Risk Employees Pose to Your Cybersecurity - September 9, 2021