Flexible working. Hybrid working. Work from anywhere. Whatever it’s called, it’s the topic that everyone is talking about right now. In this short blog, Adam Clements, Workplace Product Manager at Claranet explores the issues.
As lockdown restrictions are lifted and offices begin to open again, many business leaders are reviewing whether to return to the same old working routines or introduce a completely new approach.
The necessary shift to more flexible forms of working over the last 18 months has resulted in increased employee expectations. Those businesses that do not adapt and support this new hybrid world may find themselves facing such challenges as staff attrition and increased employee turnover, reduced employee engagement and limitations on the ability to attract future talent.
Like many organisations, we at Claranet have seen the benefits that remote working can bring for our employees and for our business, these include: - improved work life-balance, increased productivity, reduced office overheads and travel expenses to name a few. However equally, during our time working fully remote, we've also seen some challenges such as - onboarding new starters, less social interaction, lack of communication between teams.
In this blog we'll share some insights into what we’ve seen as some of the challenges being experienced when implementing a hybrid workplace.
- Change in productivity and team culture
With employees working from multiple locations, it’s critical that the same levels of productivity can be achieved remotely as they would in the office. The challenge becomes how – through availability of resources, access to the right tools and data, and keeping up the same levels of collaboration to work on projects and share ideas. In turn, as well as a productive workforce, it’s important to have a happy one. This presents another challenge: how to keep high levels of morale and staff engagement with less face-to-face interaction?
- Disparate communication tools
It’s clear that communication is key to ensure those productivity and motivation levels remain high, and that team culture remains positive. The great thing is that there are so many applications and communication methods to help – video calling, instant messaging, whiteboards and social networking apps to name a few. However, the challenge is that there are a mix of communication tools are being adopted for employees to remain connected, and these may not be integrated for productivity, often insecure, and not easy to manage.
- Increased and more complex security risks
When implementing a remote or hybrid working environment, we’ve seen security as one of the biggest focus areas for many businesses, and it needs to be! The technology being implemented to support our new ways of working present security challenges that we may have previously been less concerned about. Our employees are using more device types but still need access to the corporate resources on the network; we’re accessing more cloud-based applications and services outside of our networks; and our employees may no longer be as vigilant or as security aware in the comfort of their own home as they would usually be in the office. So, there are now more areas of risk that we need to consider but, in the meantime, cyber criminals are not wasting time in exploiting these new opportunities and we’re seeing the number of cyber-attacks increase and be more complex.
- Maintaining customer experience
Yes, many of the challenges to implement hybrid working are around the employee experience. However, we must not lose sight of the experience we deliver to our customers. By the workforce moving to remote working, do our customers still get the same level of experience? Can they contact us the way they want to, speak to the correct person, and get the information they need in the same amount of time? Whether employees are in the office or working remotely we still need to be able to deliver a consistent workplace experience regardless.
- Support and adoption of the right tools
Now, the challenges for the IT teams and those managing all of this new technology for a disparate workforce; An increased number of applications and devices to support, increased security risks, having to introduce new applications as the market rapidly gets up to speed with the demands of the new era, onboarding new employees and supporting existing from afar. The importance of technology shaping how we work has never been so important, so the pressure is on for these to be managed and well rolled out, adopted, and supported across the organisation.
- Change in Network infrastructure requirements
As many of us start to combine home working with going into the office a few days a week, now is the time to think about whether our office space and infrastructure fits the new ways in which we want to work. At a high level some businesses may be thinking about whether they need as much office space as they did before, but it’s also about considering whether the technology within your office is still fit for purpose. For example, do you still need the same about amount of bandwidth to your office now you have less employees working there? On the other hand, what pressures on the system occur when everyone comes in for a few days training? When people are in, though there may be fewer, will they be consuming more due to more video calls, access to cloud applications and workload demands that have now become the norm. Agility is paramount and having a secure infrastructure that can power your hybrid workplace, application and data is essential to staying ahead of your competition. As well as a commercial framework that flexes with your business demands.
As you can see, there are lots of challenges, but we’re here to help. This new era of the modern workplace is a journey and one we’re all on together.