18 months on from the first lockdown, many organisations across the country are returning to the office for the first time. But just because things are returning to normal doesn’t mean that businesses are returning to where they left off. It’s not business as usual. The old way of operating no longer fits. The question you need to ask yourself is simply are you ready for this new hybrid workplace? According to a Work Trend Index Report, 73% of employees want flexible remote work options to stay long term. In the same vein, in a study we published last year we found that 68% of people would like to work remotely at least two days per week and 8% would work from home full-time. Are you able to effectively accommodate this new way of working?
In the past year and a half, people’s work habits have changed, technology has changed, and customers have grown accustomed to a new way of doing things. Organisations are entering a completely different business environment. This last point is particularly crucial and it’s well worth ruminating over it completely.
18 months ago, organisations nationwide were forced to adapt to a new way of operating. This happened practically overnight. However, returning to the workplace will be a different proposition. CIOs, company leaders and IT Managers will have to seriously consider the best approach to take. This will take time to figure out. As a starting guide, we suggest looking at a few key areas.
1. Hybrid Work is Here to Stay
In the past year or so, employees have become used to working from home and have enjoyed the many benefits this brings. While organisations are returning to the office, we can now say with great confidence that hybrid working is here to stay. People need and want flexibility, especially now that they’ve seen how it can have such a positive impact on their lives.
When restrictions were first enforced, many organisations scrambled to put remote working protocols in place. For the most part, this was just a stop-gap arrangement and done on an ad-hoc basis. To achieve success in the long run, organisations must adapt and incorporate hybrid working into the overall operational framework.
Team members will be collaborating with one another both in-person and remotely. Meetings will take on a new look as some members will be in the meeting room, and some will be joining through platforms such as Microsoft Teams. There needs to be a certain consistency where employees can be just as effective from home as they are in-person. In order to achieve success long-term, organisations will need to integrate with the right technologies and clearly communicate expectations. This will require working with a technology partner such as ActionPoint in order to find the right blend.
2. Revisiting Security and Disaster Recovery Policies
We’ve spoken many times before about the benefits of remote or hybrid working. However, there is no doubt that there are many challenges that come with this new way of working. The biggest of which is security. Without proper security policies in place, remote workers are at risk.
There is a big difference between securing a single office location vs securing dozens of workers who are accessing servers and company information from multiple devices, in multiple locations. When you are in an office environment, you are able to actively manage and monitor the connection. However, if your employees are embracing hybrid work, using a home broadband connection, the dynamic changes. There is no escaping the fact that at-home workers are more at risk. Rather than shy away from this, organisations need to face this challenge head on.
At ActionPoint, we are huge proponents of hybrid working. We believe the benefits far outweigh the new challenges. But, more importantly, as hybrid working is here to stay, these challenges are now simply part and parcel of modern business. As we return to the workplace, the time is now to revisit security policies and disaster recovery. The old way of doing things is no longer enough and organisations need to adapt.
3. Adopting Clear Channels of Communication
Simple communication is one of the most overlooked components of change management. As your organisation evolves and adapts to a new way of working, clear communication is vital. How are you communicating your new ways of operating with your customers? When it comes to work-from-home policies, are you keeping staff in the loop? Do they understand the reason behind the change in operations and the benefits they bring? Are you able to measure the impact of change and relay it with your team? To receive buy-in from all stakeholders, communication must be prioritised.
While we don’t want to belabour the point, we want to it’s important to acknowledge that communication is a key pillar of organisational change. Communication must be clear, consistent and ongoing. A single email is not a communications plan. As much as integrating with the right technologies and securing company data is important, ongoing and clear communication will play a crucial part in returning to the workplace.
4. A Second Look at Your IT Budget
Over the past year, many organisations have recognised the deficiencies in their IT budget. To grow and develop in this increasingly digital world, organisations must be willing to invest in IT. Without the proper budget in place, hybrid working cannot survive. We need to move away from viewing IT as a cost and start looking at it as a means to strengthen, evolve and drive the organisation forward.
In order to facilitate a hybrid work environment and increase cybersecurity, a proper budget must be allocated for IT improvements. Organisations that don’t invest effectively will be left behind.
5. Working With an Expert Partner
It is perfectly normal for leaders to feel a certain level of anxiety or trepidation about returning to the workplace. A lot has happened in the past 18 months and companies are coming back to a much-changed business landscape. While systems, policies and operations will need to be redesigned and reconsidered, this is made significantly easier by working with an experienced IT partner.
At ActionPoint, we can assess your organisations hybrid work readiness. We take a holistic approach to examining your infrastructure and can help prepare a roadmap for success. As you take your initial steps towards returning to the workplace, why not give us a call or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org? We can walk you through what’s involved and what’s expected of you as you reopen a new-look modern workplace.