Hybrid work is a flexible work model that supports a blend of in-office, remote, and on-the-go working. It offers employees the autonomy to choose to work wherever and however they are most productive. Hybrid work also promotes inclusiveness, engagement, and well-being for all employees.
Hybrid and remote work are not new. However, during the Covid-19 pandemic, it emerged as a viable and successful work model. While some organizations had hybrid and remote workers before the pandemic, those arrangements accelerated overnight as most of the workforce went from in-person meetings to kitchen table virtual collaboration.
As organizations are opening offices back up, and employees can go back to the office, both have seen the benefits of hybrid work models and adopting them. Why? Because it’s proven to be a successful working arrangement.
Choosing the right collaboration solution is one of the most important decisions you’ll need to make as you adopt a hybrid work model. When the pandemic hit, many organizations had to make quick decisions about what technology they were going to adopt to support a remote workforce. But quick decisions are not often the best decisions. T-Mobile is a great example of a company that quickly realized the challenges of hybrid work and took the time to invest in a comprehensive hybrid work solution that bridged the gap between remote and in-office workers.
Many businesses that shift to a hybrid work model will find they need to maintain less office space. In fact, the global workforce survey Cisco recently sponsored found that more than half (53 percent) of organizations plan to reduce their office footprint.
However, the office, as one of many different hybrid workspaces, serves a critical role in supporting a hybrid work model. It becomes a central hub for workers to engage in rich collaboration experiences, build rapport with their colleagues, connect with the workplace culture, and more.
While many businesses can optimize their real-estate expenses because they have a hybrid work environment, they'll need to invest in transforming the offices they keep. Those investments, physical and technological, will help enhance the worker experience by promoting employee safety, well-being, collaboration, and productivity. For example, companies may need to modify or even redesign their in-office work environment to promote social distancing.
Hybrid work is about much more than where work is done, providing for simple, smart, and secure experiences from any location. Advanced technologies, like automation and artificial intelligence (AI), help to deliver new and more intelligent work experiences that employees can engage in fully.
The hybrid workforce of the future needs secure and seamless access to business applications and feature-rich, intuitive collaboration tools. This allows them to message, meet, call, share content, and collaborate securely from any space. An effective hybrid work model requires some key characteristics:
Employees in a hybrid work model may be spread across time zones and countries, working at different hours. They have different needs and require flexible tools that can adapt to their work styles, roles, and devices.
Hybrid work also provides for greater organizational flexibility overall, which, in turn, helps to increase business agility.
Hybrid work should be inclusive. That means organizations do whatever is needed to help ensure all their employees enjoy equal experiences at work.
Companies that maintain a hybrid workforce benefit from a work environment where every person can participate fully and be seen and heard equally. This is impacted by the technology they implement and the corporate culture they foster.
For example, an employer that wants to promote inclusiveness in the hybrid work environment will take care to choose collaboration tools with features that can help eliminate any language barriers between employees and teams.
To support the hybrid work vision, businesses will need to promote a supportive mindset throughout every level of their organization. That will help ensure workers are comfortable with ways of working and feel safe, secure, supported, and included.
Organizations will also need to invest in building more intelligent networks and workplaces, including smarter buildings, to support their hybrid workforce and begin preparing for the future of work that's already emerging now.
The success of the new hybrid work environment is dependent on reliable and secure connectivity. This helps ensure all team members can work and collaborate with confidence anywhere they choose to work.
Adopting a hybrid work model implies that all workers can enjoy worry-free, secure connectivity and app experiences. This allows the organization to easily maintain network connectivity and apply its security policies consistently across all workspaces, including campus, branch, home and micro-office environments.
The hybrid work model is complex and dynamic, requiring a different IT management approach. IT teams must be able to:
Obviously, there is the need for employees to have devices with cameras and apps for virtual collaboration. But it is important to take a holistic look at IT to make sure your hybrid work model is a success for both employees and the organization. Here is a short list of technology to consider:
Robust IT infrastructure: make sure your IT infrastructure has the bandwidth and technology required to securely support hybrid/remote working.
Real-time collaboration technology: employees need devices, apps and accessories that allow them to message, meet, call, and share content from anywhere, virtually.
Zero-trust security: enforce policy-based security control, ensure user and device visibility, report and alert threat detection, and encrypt and authenticate users and devices end to end.
Full-stack observability: combine app data, infrastructure, and transactions for a shared contextual view of operations to optimizes hybrid work experiences, cost, and performance.
Secure access service edge (SASE): converge networking capabilities with cloud-native security functions to simplify deployment and streamline management in the cloud.
There are many things to consider when planning out your hybrid work model and the technology needed to support it. Collaborate between solution providers and your IT team to determine what and how to deploy the ideal solution.