Companies need to accept Hybrid working as the norm

By Nicolas Brunel, EVP, Communications Business Division at Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise.

  • 2 months ago Posted in

When the pandemic hit, the fundamentals of our daily lives changed. With government-imposed lockdowns forcing those who we able to work from home, many companies had no choice but to accept and facilitate the remote working model to ensure continuity of operations. Now, more than two years later, we know that what was considered then as an interim solution is set to last. One of the main lessons learnt from the pandemic crisis is that remote and hybrid working models are here to stay.

Hybrid working as the new normal

In our rapidly developing digital world, the hybrid working model is taking over as the new standard. Research shows that 72% of employees would prefer to continue hybrid working over returning full-time to the office, even if accompanied by a 10% wage increase. Offering a combination of in-office, on-the-go, and remote, hybrid working helps to ensure productivity by way of an individually tailored model of the working day.

However, businesses must review their current operating models, making them sustainable for the long term, with hybrid working as one of its most important parameters. A human-centric perspective must be prioritised over traditional location-based working paradigms when implementing the necessary technology to sustain the hybrid model, especially in a context where eco-sustainability and eco-responsibility are raised as a priority from both enterprise and individual perspectives.

Using Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) technologies ensures continuity of business by enabling employees to efficiently work from the cloud as conveniently as if they were at the office, and supports fluid information exchange between on-site and remote workers. Reliable collaboration solutions promote a sense of inclusion, regardless of distance amongst the team and beyond, while allowing for greater productivity and motivation with fewer obstructions.

Utilising technology: navigating a digital landscape

Traditional work environments are taking a backseat as anything that does not require the use of on-site resources or face-to-face communication is viable for remote working. The challenge for businesses will be in keeping their teams cohesive and connected, despite physical location.

In order to support a hybrid work environment and ensure business continuity, companies require the appropriate digital collaboration and communications platform. Regardless of device capabilities, connectivity means (wired or wireless) and network infrastructure, all services need to be accessible to everyone, everywhere, any time. With new ‘as a Service’ solutions and on-demand services emerging on a near-daily basis, it is crucial to note that the ultimate network infrastructure and cloud combination will need to be specifically tailored to a company’s continually shifting needs.

The successful implementation of a hybrid digital workplace requires solutions. Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS) solutions can be used to bridge communications between humans and processes for simpler, faster, and more secure digital engagement within the business. Employing

such services provides higher levels of engagement by putting interactions in the right business context while reducing business latency, or the time needed to make the appropriate decisions, and ensuring customer success.

Using efficient cloud-based collaboration services in conjunction with enterprise-grade telephony capabilities allows for more reliable and secure operations that are well-suited to the needs of the company, its employees, and its customers. However, a recent survey suggests that only 51% of employees believe that their company is utilising the correct tools to support hybrid working. With this in mind, companies who adapt their communication technologies to fit the hybrid model by providing flexible and agile solutions to their workforce stand to gain a competitive edge.

The digital workplace: redefining workplace culture

Operations are no longer solely run from the office, remote working is encouraging managers to more carefully consider how they interact with and assign tasks among their team. Companies need to review how collaboration between the team can be made as efficient and productive as possible while they are not always working from the same physical space. In other words, make teamwork stronger than distance, which is the slogan we have used at ALE during the period where all people had to work remotely, as offices were closed.

Without the impromptu conversations with desk mates or around the water cooler, employees working remotely may feel a sense of isolation. This can lead to disengagement and stress, making regular check-in’s with the team imperative in cultivating a happy and productive work environment. Video calls have gone from something that was merely ‘nice to have,’ to being essential, with 69% of employees agreeing that online calls are as good as in-person chats for connecting with fellow employees. Even when working from home, employees need to feel a sense of community within their team.

To prevent such situations, it’s crucial to ensure that all employees are offered equal opportunities, whether they are working from the office or from home. Inclusive programs should be implemented to maintain engagement among employees in this new work environment, redefining how the team will work and communicate with one another. HR and business divisions have to work together to create a company culture which is matching this new working environment, making everyone comfortable and motivated, with the sense of being a key player within their team.

Maintaining the shift

The global health crisis has slightly accelerated a shift into the digital age that was already underway. The ability to work digitally is essential in an unpredictable and constantly evolving world and, more than ever before, it is crucial that businesses are keeping pace with this transition.

Updating technology and implementing the necessary organisational changes will enable employees to continue to work flexibly, securely, and productively, no matter their location. While any business can benefit greatly from the hybrid work model, take note that full digitalisation cannot be completed overnight. The ideal hybrid landscape must be constructed using the right digital platform for your business, ensuring a solid foundation for continued growth in terms of both individual and company objectives - one complementing the other.

By Jennifer Lee, Chief Operating Officer at Intradiem.
The retail sector is just emerging from the backdrop of intense pandemic-induced digitisation, only to find itself in an environment with many more external pressures – from the tech talent shortage to outstanding technical debt and supply chain pressures. Here, Neil Holden, Chief Information Officer, Halfords, reflects on the lessons Halfords has learned even before the pandemic, and offers some best practice advice to CIOs and CTOs as they plan and execute digitisation strategies in the current retail industry landscape.
By David Trossell, CEO and CTO of WAN Acceleration company Bridgeworks Ltd.
By Dr Andrea Johnson, VP Global Business Systems at Workhuman
By Birgit Jackson, Director Integrated Racks and IT Solutions Business in EMEA at Vertiv, shares her career journey and challenges and opportunities for women in IT.