08 Oct 2021

Remote working, here to stay?

When 2020 saw the world reduce person to person contact to protect loved ones, business leaders were forced to redefine the traditional in-office, 9 am to 5 pm – introducing massive disruption to the ways we work. Now, the conventional idea, where meetings, productivity and inclusion meant everyone being in the same place, is gone.   

Instead, we found that with the right tools – we can do business anywhere.   

Remote working has given employees greater flexibility in their home lives and created job opportunities in new locations. It has also allowed businesses to find talent in places that were previously too far from the physical office. This works the other way too. As the world opens up to a new, more flexible way of working, more employees are evaluating their next move. The 2021 Work Trend Index found that 41% of the global workforce are considering leaving their current employer for more attractive positions, offering remote working, opening up elsewhere.   

So, embracing remote working seems like a smart move for many business leaders. But there are also challenges to consider. Isolation and siloed departments can strain productivity, while digital exhaustion is a genuine concern for virtual-only working worlds. Microsoft analysis finds that weekly time spent in virtual meetings has more than doubled year on year, with after-hours Teams chats increasing by 42%.   

All this means that a thoughtful approach to the future of work is required.   

What is a Hybrid Workforce?

Simply put, a hybrid workplace facilitates flexible working for employees. A workplace with cloud storage and online collaboration tools means work can be fluid, whether teams work in the office or remotely. However, having the best collaboration tools is just part of the puzzle. Business leaders must think of hybrid working as a developing strategy because internal and external factors continually shift the world of work. Your approach to the modern workplace must evolve alongside.   

How to embrace Hybrid Working 

There are three areas that, properly managed, drive a successful hybrid working strategy. These are Employee Experience, Technology, and Security.   

Employee Experience  

With employees finding more opportunities than ever before, it’s important to put employee experience at the centre of your plans. Start by creating a plan that empowers people for flexibility while setting out how to shape company culture, attract and retain talent, and remain resilient to future changes and innovations. In the new hybrid way of working, business leaders need to make decisions that will impact the company for years to come.   

Ask questions such as;  

  • Are there some workers that cannot work remotely or be offered the chance? 
  • Where will training take place – in the office, remotely, or will it be a digital or blended experience?  
  •  How do you maintain a coherent company culture? Will there be difficulties with colleagues dispersed digitally and physically? 
  • What can combat digital exhaustion? 

More and more companies are taking strong stances on flexible working, and every organisation needs a plan that centres people while incorporating policy, physical space and technology.   

Technology  

Alongside physical offices, companies will need to invest in the right technology that enables employees to participate fully from home, in the office, or on the go while ensuring company assets are kept secure.   

Ask; 

  • What tools can facilitate effective collaboration between remote, in office, field and site-based employees? 
  • How can we ensure that employees have seamless and secure access to the applications and data they require to work remotely from any device? 
  • What role can technology play in helping to maintain levels of productivity for staff, wherever they work?  

Productivity and collaboration applications, such as Microsoft 365, Teams and SharePoint, enable real-time collaboration through co-authoring documents, instant messaging and video conferencing.  

Security  

The increasing threat of cybercrime must always be at the forefront of business decisions. Four in ten (39%) UK businesses identified at least one cyber-attack or a breach in the last 12 months. Cybercrime could cost your business a lot of money if sensitive data is lost. Preventing and identifying a cyber-attack using legacy security solutions is a considerable challenge for companies regardless of where your employees are working. So having a robust cyber security package is a must for all businesses, but embracing hybrid means analysing where gaps might be found when work occurs in multiple environments.  

  • Can your chosen solutions be implemented and adapted for hybrid working, or will they have to be adjusted? 
  • Will there be a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy for remote workers? If so, what are the processes for personal devices, so that company data is secure?
  • How will information be stored securely and be accessible to all staff when required?  

Ensuring that technology and security packages work in a fully hybrid organisation may mean that companies take more responsibility for employee home office setups. Care will be essential for making remote workers feel included, specifically those with fewer resources or who are early in their careers.   

If the year of the pandemic taught us anything about work, it was that this: not all internet connections are made equal. Providing business grade connections to your remote worker’s homes can go far in maintaining productivity levels and facilitating seamless and secure online collaboration.    

The Modern Workplace  

The Modern Workplace provides an opportunity to transform how work gets done while simplifying how you deliver the technology your employees need. 

With the Modern Workplace, and the evolution of cloud-based technology, businesses can simplify their IT management, seamlessly integrate applications, enable better employee collaboration and communication, and boost productivity; securely.  

Next steps  

Adopting new technologies can sometimes be a little overwhelming, and it’s often difficult to know where to begin. As we navigate through the post-pandemic world together and define our new workplace strategies, it’s crucial that you know businesses like SoConnect can help you implement the right technologies to ensure your business succeeds in the Modern Workplace revolution. 

To start your Modern Workplace transformation, book an initial consultation with our expert team. We will conduct a gap analysis during the consultation to establish a suggested roadmap and adoption plan, ensuring you transform your company into a successful Modern Workplace.  

Infographic: How to Embrace Hybrid Working

For a summary of the three key elements to consider for Hybrid Working, why not download our infographic below?