During the pandemic, vast swathes of the global workforce experienced working from home for the first time. In the post-pandemic period, the most prominent debate is whether hybrid working is the future for your business.
There are pros and cons for both employers and employees. On the one hand, employers are concerned that creativity and collaboration will be affected which could disrupt innovation.
On the flip side, the hybrid work model has increased productivity, cut costs, and gives employees more autonomy – which ultimately translates in have employees which should theoretically reduce employee turnover.
The response by employees has been mixed. Workers with school-age children enjoy the work-life balance and are all for remote working. It also helps some families save a significant amount of cash on childcare fees.
Younger generations, especially singles in their 20’s and 30’s would prefer to be in the office. They miss the camaraderie and the vibe of the office. 55% of millennials said they felt more pressured to be productive working from home.
The two things that everyone agrees on is that they save more time and money by not commuting. Employees also want more autonomy to work when and where they want.
The hybrid work model brings a balance between the two mindsets and facilitates the preferences of all parties. However, there needs to be a finely tilted balance.
What is Hybrid Working?
Firstly, we must define what hybrid working is. Hybrid is the most flexible way of working whereby employees are in the office for part of the week and working from home on the other days.
Conventional wisdom suggests there should be a fair split between time working at home and working in the office over a month. However, a flexible approach might work better if it is possible to manage your space.
Advantages of Hybrid Working
For hybrid working to be successful, Gartner argues that four types of working must be leveraged appropriately. There are the two synchronous working types and the two asynchronous working types::
- “Working together, together” (office),
- “Working together, apart” (remote)
- “Working alone, together” (office)
- “Working alone, apart” (remote).
Creating all four environments is a huge challenge, but firms that get it right will be rewarded with higher levels of productivity and, in theory, a greater sense of employee satisfaction.
The most evident advantage will be your business’ productivity, as the flexibility offered means that your staff can choose any of these four working environments based on which they know will be best for the task at hand.
It allows them to create their own spaces for deep-focused work in the creative atmosphere of their own home while still being able to access their colleagues in person where they need to optimise their collaboration. McKinsey has labeled the latter as “small moments of engagement.”
Satisfaction and Wellbeing
This autonomy given to employees requires a great amount of trust on the part of management, but showing this belief is a key driver for employee satisfaction. It allows them to experience personal growth, develop new skills, and further their abilities to take on additional roles.
Furthermore, granting workers autonomy in a hybrid workplace can produce a stronger workplace culture. It relies on staff to appreciate each other’s abilities and assume they are doing a good job, thus removing any toxicity which may emerge in a traditional workplace.
Hybrid working also improves your staff’s well-being by reducing the amount of time they spend commuting. Better access to family and the things that they love doing will grant a more fulfilling workplace experience.
IT Challenges With Hybrid Working
The hybrid model can be potentially tricky for IT professionals. During the pandemic, it was reported that 66% of UK companies saw a downturn in productivity.
Subsequently, the first decision IT managers need to determine is what technologies they need to implement to ramp up efficiency. Which cloud solutions and software provide the tools your business needs to work remotely?
A hybrid work environment inevitably means that employees will work on more devices, use more software, and access more networks. Subsequently, this creates more points of exposure that could be exploited.
You also need to decide which legacy system, if any, you need to continue and which you can retire. This creates other potential problems in relation to integration and compatibility. There is an increased risk of the system crashing.
There is, of course, no single solution to which technologies your business needs to create an efficient IT infrastructure. What you will need is to activate cybersecurity features that come with cloud software, install anti-virus technology, secure endpoints, and train your staff in cybersecurity awareness.
You should also consider taking advantage of patch management services from IT support providers. Security updates are impossible to manage effectively when you have a distributed workforce. You shouldn’t rely on your staff to perform security updates on multiple software programs.
Remote management software enables your IT team to take control of a remote device. There are also remote tools that identify potential problems in the network and give you the opportunity to resolve the issue before it becomes a problem that results in downtime.
Leading IT professionals in London rave about the virtues of virtual desktops. Micro Pro, cloud specialists in London with strong views on hybrid working, believe virtual machines are a critical piece of the remote working jigsaw.
Essentially, virtual desktops enable your employees to go about their work in the usual way and data will be saved to the cloud with regulator backups that run almost undetected in the background.
However, because the virtual desktop is not actually running on your network, hackers would not be able to access the data stored on your network even if employees’ device is compromised.
Can Your Business Succeed with Hybrid Working?
It has been shown that most employees would prefer the choice to work from home and in the office. The hybrid model is also proven to help employees work at full capacity and hit excellent levels of productivity that leverage the most value for your business.
Establishing the IT infrastructure will be challenging, but can pay dividends for your employee’s productivity and wellbeing. Hybrid working does have the potential to be a worthwhile investment for some companies. What you need to consider is whether you create a hybrid model that is efficient and effective.