It’s that time. Your alarm goes off for work. Which day is it, though?
Depending on the day, you grab a coffee, quick shower and into your home office you go. Or you go for a quick breakfast, get into your car and off to work.
Welcome to the era of the hybrid workplace.
Out of all the changes brought about by the pandemic, the hybrid workplace is here to stay. Organisations have a distributed workforce. A fluid mix of in-office employees and remote workers choosing where and when to work.
The mix of remote and office working has massive implications for business planning across all areas, including IT.
But, if you are flexible and meet those IT challenges head-on, this new way of working will succeed, and your business and employees will flourish.
Hybrid working – a culture shock
As a result of the pandemic, employees and their employers are re-evaluating individual purposes. What works, what doesn’t, and the result is a mix of working from home and the office. The future of work is primarily hybrid.
Hybrid working with its potential positive impact on creativity, productivity and work/life balance will mean that traditional office working approaches may become extinct.
Once the staple of the modern working day, physical connections and the physical environment could be gone.
In its place, a remote working world is interspersed with occasional visits to the workplace. A workplace that risks a diluted culture with some employees disconnected and disillusioned is worrying as a positive culture links to business growth and vice-versa.
Businesses are pondering the tricky question of keeping employees engaged, happy and productive in this new normal. Whilst trying to maintain a culture that’s a great place to work without an actual workplace to collaborate or communicate.
Trying to achieve this is a dilemma for business leaders across the board and, as a result, heads of IT departments. How do you execute a successful hybrid workplace where your technology is safe, drives a sense of community and a shared purpose?
The IT challenge
From an IT operations perspective, COVID-19 accelerated advancements in how we work and the technology we use to work—yet, providing workers with the flexibility to work wherever and whenever has placed massive pressure on technology to deliver.
According to the State of IT 2021 report, 80% of European businesses plan long-term changes because of the pandemic. 48% have already undergone a digital transformation or are planning to speed up their strategy.
The most obvious challenge for IT departments with hybrid working is managing the home and office environments. Extended support desk hours, remote support, management tools and enabling many forms of communication and collaboration are some of the daily challenges faced. Besides, mass remote working has intensified IT security and privacy issues.
Homeworkers are constantly exposed to malicious links due to vulnerable home networks. Rather than IT viewing employees as consumers, they now have to view them as partners who expect the highest and safest level of technology.
IT and the workplace future
Some organisations are fearful of hybrid working, but it is a unique opportunity to reset priorities and processes across departments to support your workforce.
In the area of IT, a significant first step is to undertake a comprehensive audit.
Such an audit will review what works to date and what to repurpose. An organisation might also consider IT tools to boost effective office and remote working. Involving employees in this process is vital to develop the right tools and solutions and have their buy-in for adoption.
Much of what IT must do will be aligned with long-term business goals and talent development, collaborating to achieve the best possible outcome for the individual and the business.
The main focus will be to use the right technology to minimise exclusion and avoid those feelings of disengagement and knowledge loss amongst the workforce.
Ensuring meeting rooms are connected so that remote workers can engage with everyone in the room; digital whiteboards for visual collaboration and streamline emails and text messaging. These are a few of the approaches IT can take to meet the challenges of the future.
As business navigates this new working landscape, IT strategies must be developed to allow every employee the opportunity to thrive. This approach will ensure that workplace cultures of collaboration and communication remain, grow and become stronger.