The need for hybrid IT was pulled sharply into focus when the Prime Minister solemnly announced “You must stay at home” just over two years ago, as the seriousness of the pandemic dawned. Literally overnight, companies had to find a way to work remotely. Now, as the world continues to return to the pre-Covid state, it looks like hybrid working is here to stay. But how do you find the right blend of home and on-premise technology?
Video killed the face-to-face meeting
The video call has most significantly influenced the technologies that workers are now using. Pre-Covid, video conferencing was, for most companies, not even on the radar, and was certainly not considered a key way of conducting business. Now it has become the norm. Some employees may love holding a virtual meeting via Teams, Zoom or Google Hangout, while others may hate it. However, the reality is that many meetings can be effectively and efficiently carried out online, which greatly reduces the need for travel and therefore reduces emissions and the impact on the environment.
Fit for purpose tech
As a result of the pandemic, many people and businesses acquired IT equipment quickly, as employers looked for ways to swiftly mobilise their teams to work from home. Often this meant taking a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) approach to hybrid working, with employers encouraging staff to use what equipment was already available to them at home.
The upshot of this is that the ongoing management of those devices, whether that be laptops, mobile phones or otherwise, is incredibly difficult to control. Not to mention that often personal computers don’t have the necessary functionality or security to offer the protection required.
There isn’t a particular need for a new category of tech to be built specifically for the hybrid worker; it’s more about adoption of the technologies that are more suited to a hybrid workplace such as the Cloud, for example. It’s also important to tackle the BYOD challenge by making improvements to the home working set up, including taking more centralised control over the devices that are used for work purposes.
Less is more
As people returned to the office, albeit flexibly, we as a managed service provider found that businesses were looking at how best to standardise their IT. This was particularly important given the rush to adapt to lockdown, with many employees using different tech to complete their roles.
Advising businesses to use one platform, such as Microsoft Teams for example, helps employees come together on one hub to not only work, but share company information, hold meetings and learn and coach junior members of staff. Choosing one secure platform that everyone uses is vital for building and maintaining office culture, as well as reducing the anxiety that can come from having multiple systems and applications.
It’s important to consider staff health and wellbeing here too. Historically, when face-to-face meetings were the norm, we wouldn’t put more than a couple in the diary per day owing factors like travel commitments. The incredible rise of video calls has turned this on its head, and now people are attending back-to-back Teams meetings, with few breaks in between. This can definitely present an issue when we’re considering anxiety and overload and it’s something businesses should look to address.
The security landscape, now and in future
The security issues that arose when the world began working from home were unprecedented, with malware and ransomware attacks increasing 358 percent and 435 respectively in 2020 as workers shifted to remote working.
And according to research by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and Cisco, in the last year, one in 10 firms reported being a victim of a cyber-attack, with the figure rising to one in seven for larger companies with more than 50 employees. More than half of those businesses believed their exposure to attacks had increased due to staff working from home.
However, despite the risks and potential damage these attacks can bring, this research also found that only 21 percent of businesses reported having cyber security accreditations in place. This number fell to just 12 percent for smaller firms with less than 10 employees. As such, it’s clear there is still a long way to go to resolving the security issues associated with remote working.
Which is why we’re focusing a lot of effort into bringing all of our clients up to a standard when it comes to IT security. It’s imperative that businesses take action to protect themselves against cyber-attacks, especially given the World Economic Forum has named cyber security as one of the biggest risks over the next five years.
IT security awareness training should be as commonplace as other areas of training offered by businesses, such as compliance training or Health & Safety. Businesses need to take online threats seriously and that starts with employees gaining greater awareness.
With effective security awareness training, a business can transform employees into a solid line of defence against cyber-attacks, by helping them identify, avoid and report sophisticated attacks. The training can simulate a cyber-attack and can be tailored to a business so employees can understand what could happen and what to look out for when carrying out their day-to-day role.
Following on from this, every business should have in place a business continuity plan (BCP). This is a document that outlines how a business will operate should it experience some disruption, such as a cyber-attack or employees suddenly working from home again. These plans should outline disaster recovery procedures as well detailed strategies on how the business will operate in the short and long term.
And finally… hybrid tech stacks
The perfect hybrid tech stack should have a Cloud-first infrastructure at its heart. Businesses can no longer rely on slow VPN connections in the office and this was readily highlighted throughout the pandemic; the businesses which had already adopted a Cloud-first approach prior to Covid were able to quickly adapt to the challenges of hybrid working and ultimately thrive. Now that home working for at least part of the week is here for the long haul, it’s the first item on the hybrid working checklist.
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
James Bentley – firstname.lastname@example.org / 07876 899 102
Notes to editors
About Everything Tech (https://www.everythingtech.co.uk/)
Everything Tech is an award-winning Managed Service Provider (MSP) which supports every element of a business’s IT infrastructure including IT support, IT security, Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, Office 365 and Cloud services, Backup and disaster recovery, IT training, Unified communications and Microsoft Dynamics. Launched in 2010 Everything Tech is headquartered in central Manchester but covers customers nationally.