- Companies need to offer hybrid working arrangements to stay competitive and retain talent.
- A successful transition to hybrid work is dependent on having the right systems in place.
- Secure devices and cloud-enabled storage are two ways businesses can make hybrid work easier.
As employers search for the right work arrangements after months or more spent largely remote, employees are making it clear they overwhelmingly prefer hybrid scenarios. In a recent Institute for Business Value survey of more than 14,000 people around the world, one in four employees said they were planning to change companies in 2021, citing the need for a more flexible work schedule or location as a top reason. Given such strong sentiment, it’s easy to see how a well-conceived “work from anywhere” option could soon become a competitive advantage for employers.
“The downside of telling employees they must return to the office is losing key members of your team to other companies that allow for remote or hybrid work,” said Brian Moran, the founder and CEO of Small Business Edge, a global community platform for business owners. “A smart leader will allow employees to work remotely but will make sure they are held accountable for their productivity.”
Establishing hybrid working may seem daunting, but there are a handful of steps any company can take to improve the infrastructure and operations of hybrid work that will make for a more successful transition.
Provide employees with secure, approved tech
In the spring of 2020, when many companies were forced to shift to remote work practically overnight, some employers felt forced to allow staff members to use personal laptops or mobile devices out of convenience. Such arrangements, however, should not stand for the long term.
Because they are outside the control of your company’s IT department, personal devices are more susceptible to malware attacks and data breaches, making them a security risk for both your company’s and your customers’ data.
To protect against attack and ensure the security of company data, employers should provide employees with all the tech devices they need for work, regardless of where they’re logging in.
Track employee time and attendance
Maintaining clear communication about on-site and remote workdays is essential to planning meetings and maximizing office space, not to mention ensuring employee safety. Simple digital infrastructure solutions, such as a shared calendar or time-and-attendance app, can help keep track of everyone’s whereabouts.
Embrace hybrid cloud storage
Employees need secure access to company applications and data no matter where they’re working. Some organizations may choose to run those applications and keep that data on-premises for security or control reasons. Others may choose to outsource them to third-party cloud providers to speed deployments or increase agility. But most businesses will combine the best of both worlds through a hybrid cloud setup consisting of on-premises infrastructure, private cloud services, and public clouds.
The easiest, most cost-effective way to meet hybrid cloud data demands is with a cloud-enabled storage system like IBM FlashSystem®. The high-performance, resilient, single-platform storage family enables consistent data management across on-premises storage and cloud environments. The system also provides a comprehensive set of high-availability and data-resilience capabilities, ensuring your data is always accessible to employees from any location.
The FlashSystem family includes four models designed for workloads with varying capacity and performance requirements. Entry models that can easily grow with you start at $13,336, making them perfect for small and medium-size businesses.
“Cloud-enabled storage can greatly increase productivity, efficiency, and better overall time management,” Moran said. “It is a must-have in today’s remote/hybrid work environment.”
Adopt a new approach to meetings
Though most businesses spent 2020 conducting fully virtual meetings, hybrid meetings introduce new obstacles. Challenges include making sure remote attendees can still contribute, see presentations, and generally feel like full participants. Luckily, many of these issues can be solved with technology, such as using a high-quality videoconferencing platform to share presentations directly with users and installing microphones in conference rooms so remote workers can hear collocated participants.
Behavioral adjustments are also key. Clear the meeting space of background noise, actively seek input from remote participants, and, most important, be sure to notify remote participants of any discussions or decisions that take place after the formal meeting has ended. Those casual moments, which often happen after remote workers have signed off, can end up making them feel out of the loop.
Hybrid work is an entirely different way of operating that requires you and your employees to adopt a new mindset, new skills, and new tools. Implementing these best practices will help ease the transition to a hybrid model, and help your company thrive while others are still struggling to adapt.