Managing the technology boundaries of your organisations will enable hybrid work success, writes Alan Turnley-Jones, CEO of Dimension Data.
Success for the hybrid workforce is not an easy target. To many organisations, hybrid workforce remains a success enigma.
The return of high-profile work-from-home organisations to the office has left many companies concerned about the future of hybrid and their ability to structure it effectively. The challenge, however, is not in allowing people to work across different environments, but in managing the technology boundaries of your ecosystem so this work is cohesive and productive. It’s a balancing act that asks for deft and absolute control over the technologies and processes that shape hybrid work across multiple touchpoints and approaches.
The reality is that hybrid work isn’t going to end. It is an invaluable and flexible approach to working that has proven benefits across wellness, productivity, and employee loyalty. As a recent analysis of hybrid work by the World Economic Forum highlights, hybrid is set to remain the biggest workplace trend in 2023.
This is driven by two factors – the first is that the fully remote model is hard to maintain post-pandemic as it limits employee connections and the company’s ability to build a thriving culture and workplace dynamic. The second is that it allows for both company and employee to benefit from its inherent flexibility and recognises the importance of putting people’s wellbeing and health at the forefront of the company.
Success for the hybrid workforce is not an easy target. Employees and the business need to align and cooperate to ensure that the model works to everyone’s advantage. As McKinsey echoes, if a hybrid is “well organised and well managed, it can improve productivity”, but the key lies in creating an ecosystem that leverages technology properly.
Think back to 2020. Remote working tools and platforms like Zoom rose to fame, cloud computing became even more entrenched and valued by the business, telehealth evolved at a necessary and remarkable pace, and collaboration platforms like Microsoft 365 and Google Workplace hit the evolve button as they rolled out features to meet demand.
Many of these innovations and changes remained invaluable to the business, some have become so much part of daily working life, they are irreplaceable. The ecosystems that use these technologies, however, have become fractured and complex as they were put together at speed and on demand.
Now, to fully embrace the value that hybrid working can offer the business and its people, organisations need to create technology ecosystems with clearly defined boundaries. The technology has to prioritise employee wellbeing without compromising on productivity and business gains, and it has to be capable of responding to changing dynamics and expectations at speed. After all, the uncertainty and complexity that changed the workplace are still in play today.
One of the first components is the network. Your business needs a network infrastructure that’s highly automated and capable of real-time analytics and monitoring to ensure that access is always secure and optimised. It’s key that the network is secure by design and capable of withstanding the demands of a software-defined, high-performance hybrid environment.
Your cloud infrastructure is what makes hybrid a reality, and so your network has to be capable of harnessing this infrastructure so that your data traffic, performance requirements and capacity needs are always met. This is a non-negotiable investment that not only powers hybrid, but the business as a whole.
Next, you need to design your environment to ensure it is ready for whatever direction hybrid demands. Whether this is the ability to house all employees on site, or to radically pivot to work from home, the business has to offer employees an integrated management system that delivers an optimal working environment.
This includes ensuring that both physical and virtual infrastructure are secured: from the cyber to the security camera, workplace environments have to provide employees and customers with the right levels of support to ensure data and operations are secured.
With these foundational elements in place, companies can then revitalise their technology ecosystems, taking an iterative approach that fits within budgets and expectations. It not only ensures that they aren’t left behind, or left struggling with tech that can’t meet demand, it ensures that they can adapt to changing hybrid expectations with relative ease.
Hybrid may still be finding its feet and there are still kinks that need ironing out, but it can be a highly successful and agile model if the right technology is in place.