Last week, experts from Verizon, Lumen and Resonate got together to host a webinar and share their learnings on how best to address the challenges presented by the popular new trend of hybrid working.
Topics covered included how Resonate, Lumen and Verizon approached the switch to hybrid working themselves, how home working has impacted employee culture, challenges around employee adoption and advice for businesses looking to optimise their own hybrid approach.
One point widely agreed on by the panel of experts was that hybrid working is here to stay. While clients might have had to adapt to remote working overnight when the first lockdown was enforced, they are now taking their time to try and select the best solutions for the mid and longer-term.
Maintaining flexibility would seem to be the key here. After all, to start with, 85% of employees might want to take advantage of some kind of hybrid working model. But in 12 months time, that figure may have reduced to 65% or even less. That’s why companies need flexible processes and, above all, a flexible network.
One of the ironies of all this is that, for many people, the opportunity to return to the office, albeit on a part-time basis, has given many people their freedom back. We all look at things differently and keeping everyone happy is going to be one of the biggest challenges for employers.
Of course, this is not going to be a one-size-fits-all solution. Companies need to offer a wide range of options to satisfy all their employees. Before you agree on any major changes, you need to know what your workforce thinks and wants. User surveys are a quick and efficient way of gauging opinion and will give you a pathway you can follow with conviction. However, it’s imperative that companies do not leave anyone behind in the rush to hybrid working. Hybrid working is an opportunity to embrace inclusion, and it shouldn’t just be seen as a chance to please the majority.
The panel also sensed a shift in attitude to hybrid working from many of their clients. Clever technologies, such as Microsoft Teams, enabled the rapid switch to remote working during the pandemic. But now it’s not just a case of ‘making do’ and companies realise that employees need professional working experiences that are equal no matter whether you’re working from home or in the office. Technologies like smart cameras and microphones that can follow a speaker on the move help to enhance the experience of those not physically in the room. It was agreed by our experts that most companies are only just scratching the surface with their United Communications capability at the moment.
Security is another issue that needs serious consideration going forward. GDPR, for example, doesn’t just apply when you’re working in the office! This topic prompted the anecdote of people video conferencing from home with a mirror behind them that shows everyone in the video meeting what’s on their screen. As well as raising a smile, this example illustrates that security is just as much about tightening up the people protocols as it is about acquiring the latest technologies.
The webinar went on to cover the importance of the cloud for hybrid working, the move to more flexible working hours and the chance to access a bigger pool of talent for companies everywhere. It also touched on the difficulties facing sales teams who have had to try to clinch deals even though they are unable to have any kind of person-to-person contact with their customers.
The experts emphasised that we are right at the beginning of the journey in terms of technology innovations for hybrid working. Expect to see a range of new technologies launched to enhance the user experience, including holograms, AI and transcription services.
With the need to provide equal experiences for all, expect to see increased pressure being put on the government to up their game with rural broadband. It’s no longer acceptable for certain geographical areas to be disadvantaged in business by an inferior wi-fi signal.
Also, we can expect groups of people who might previously have been unable to participate in the workforce, such as students and senior citizens, to be able to take advantage of new flexible working practices and the chance to become involved.
If you’d like to watch the full webinar, you can pick up plenty of other tips on hybrid working from the experts by following this link.