People First Approach to Hybrid Working Andrew Jackson, CEO of Intercity Technology, explains why putting people before technology is the key to successful homeworking.

There’s no doubt – for most offices, some level of homeworking is here to stay. Many workers now expect a degree of flexibility from employers, rather than viewing it as an added perk. ‘The Great Resignation’ has amplified this shift with record-breaking numbers of employees leaving their job in search of something that offers more. Employers must now adopt a more flexible approach to working to attract and retain the right talent.

A permanent hybrid model means reviewing the policies and infrastructure that were ‘temporarily’ put in place at the beginning of the pandemic and considering whether they’re still valid, both for your organisation and your employees.

As IT professionals, we don’t need to create satellite offices in employee homes, but we must implement systems that allow them to do more and work seamlessly wherever they are. We need to rethink the ‘normal’ way of doing things – processes that were traditionally office-centred should now be digitally-led, and useful to your people.

Enhancing productivity

At the height of the pandemic, a Zen Internet report showed 89% of remote workers wasted more than 30 minutes per day because of connectivity issues. Hardware upgrades and establishing unlimited data solutions that allow staff to hotspot when their own Wi-Fi is struggling, are simple solutions.

Cloud-based storage and communications tools allow greater collaboration with the creation of a single platform for HD voice, conference calling, video meetings and file sharing.

A lack of cybersecurity awareness

Businesses who cannot control their employee’s use of devices risk, not only compromising confidential information, but also financial penalties for non-compliance to GDPR regulations, or even falling victim to ransom demands.

Working from home has meant unwitting staff have made their organisation vulnerable to attack through simple errors, such as connecting to unsecure networks or downloading malware. Studies show that despite training, employees are still failing basic tests or being caught in a cycle of bad habits. In the US, remote workers have been responsible for 20% of security breaches in organisations since the pandemic began.

Thankfully, there are solutions that can be implemented to help prevent end-user errors. Next-generation cloud security solutions like Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) allow workers to securely access documents through their devices, with separate, password-protected workspaces. EMM can help eliminate the risk of malware being downloaded and can allow devices to be remotely wiped in the event of loss or theft.

Hybrid tech must benefit all staff – not just those at home

By putting people at the centre of your IT strategy, businesses can more easily bridge the gaps that appear when team members are working from different locations.

Office infrastructure is another aspect that must also be considered. For instance, hot desks with the right connections for workers to easily plug into, cameras for boardroom meetings that allow remote participants to feel part of the room, and headsets to allow office workers to join a video call without leaving their workspace in search of a quiet room. All these factors can ease workers into the hybrid model.

And if businesses truly want to strike the right balance and help their teams do more, they must carefully consider what tools are needed to seamlessly make the transition to hybrid working. This process starts with recognising our limitations and collaborating with everyone to truly get to grips with what tools they need to commence hybrid working effectively.

Engaging with every layer of staff in the business allows us to gain a deeper understanding of where the gaps really are, so the right tools can be put in place for a trouble-free transition.

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