Back to the Office: A Technology Guide for the Hybrid Work Environment
The hybrid workplace model is allowing business leaders to reimagine their office spaces. With the vaccine underway, more and more enterprises are ready to reawaken.
The topic of returning to work has been circulating in corporate America since December of 2020. Weighing the pros and cons of remote work and a five-day workweek office environment, enterprises have determined that the hybrid workplace model may be the best route to go until the pandemic fully wanes.
The hybrid workplace model is a flexible model that is designed to support both in-office and remote employees. According to Built In, there are three variations of the hybrid model: remote-first, office-occasional, and office-first but with remote work allowed.
Remote-first means that employees can relocate away from the office, but the company will keep its office space for the employees who value it. Office-occasional means that the company chooses to keep an office and requires its employees to spend time in it. Lastly, the office-first but with remote work allowed means that the office strongly encourages employees to work in the office and provides a remote work policy when necessary.
Although a study by Pew Research Center showed that 54% of employees preferred to continue the fully remote work model after the pandemic, the remaining percentage was ready to return to the office.
Additionally, 86% of executives think employees should be in the office at least three days a week, and another survey with more than 350 CEOs, human resources, and finance leaders, 70% said they plan to have employees back in the office full-time by the fall of this year.
According to Chairman and CEO Marc Holliday, most tenants of New York City’s largest office landlord, SL Green Realty Group, plan to return to the office between June and September.
Working from home also increased the dependence on technology. Microsoft boasted that Teams now has more than 250 million monthly active users on their platform, and experts believe that the market for public cloud will be worth $800 billion by 2025.
As remote workers expect to transition back to the office, business leaders are taking innovative steps to redesign their office space and encourage the hybrid workforce. They are also looking to uplift company culture, incorporate more happy hours, and provide an improved employee experience to welcome back team members during this transformative time.
Rich Mines, CEO of WB Wood, explains, “Many businesses may be underestimating the changes needed to optimize workplaces for health and safety and accommodate the evolving requirements of a hybrid work model in which employees blend working from different locations, including home, on the go or the office.” A recent article by Forbes states that as companies bring back people faster than anticipated, they will have a lot of work to do in a short period of time.
Important factors IT leaders need to remember when looking to implement a successful hybrid work environment include:
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The COVID-19 pandemic not only disrupted the way we work but advanced the way we work. Cloud is becoming a top C-suite priority as businesses move from a traditional approach to a more integrated end-to-end digital transformation.
The reliance and spend of businesses on cloud technology in 2020 have increased by 23%, and they further expect it to increase by 47% throughout 2021. In a study by Salesforce, 94% of businesses claimed they saw an improvement in security after switching to the cloud. Another 91% said that the cloud also makes it easier to meet government compliance requirements.
Cost savings, security, increased collaboration, loss prevention, competitive edge, and sustainability are just some of the many advantages that come with the cloud. With the constant mobility between workplaces, employees will need this dependable hybrid solution to keep their data secure, accessible, and in one place.
The Maximization of Existing Infrastructure
Many enterprises are still confused about what to do with their existing business communications infrastructure. Office devices such as company work phones have cost businesses thousands of dollars, and with the switch to the cloud, they’re reluctantly chucking away their old phone systems.
Fortunately, phone systems are still a key tool when working in the office. Simply being able to pick up a physical desk phone and dial a colleague’s number makes an employee’s work-life easier. However, enterprises that don’t want to spend a fortune can still integrate and leverage modern collaboration features by supercharging their existing PBX with Microsoft Teams.
Additionally, physical security and video surveillance will help HR and business executives monitor employee interactions and check-ins to ensure health safety. They can benefit from viewing all operations through one platform with SmartChoice’ Smart Tile solution, an innovative alternative to view all their software platforms through one pane of glass.
A Stronger WiFi Network
At the beginning of 2020, internet data consumption was up to 16% compared to 2019. But when the pandemic hit in March, usage had spiked to a 28% increase compared to the prior year. Durable WiFi networks empower employees through their connection speed and interoperability, remove distractions, and enable employees to work from multiple parts of the office.
Enterprises will benefit from working with multi-faceted technology providers that render WiFi solutions paired with 24/7 U.S.-based support and disaster recovery. Through SmartChoice, you can remove the need to contact multiple vendors daily and possess a single point of contact for your technological needs.
Increased Network Security
Network security is detrimental to the interconnected world. Most homes with high-speed internet connections have one or more wireless routers. As work and daily life become more and more interchanged, these routers can be exploited if not secured – providing a gateway to data breaches, hackers, and risk.
Multi-layered network security protects business-critical applications and data and accelerates recovery from disruptions. Enterprises can leverage solutions such as SD-WAN to securely connect users to their applications, magnify threats, and heighten network visibility.
The journey to a successful hybrid work model doesn’t have to be difficult. The workforce has evolved over the course of the pandemic, and businesses will need the tools to accommodate their organizational needs. By having the right solutions, leaders will be empowered to make key decisions, knowing that their technology will support changing work environments to suit the modern worker.
SmartChoice is a technology company based out of New York City with a unique portfolio of solutions including UCAAS, collaboration, software and analytics, dedicated contact centers, security, infrastructure, and managed connectivity. Through its unsurpassed white-glove service and 24x7x365 U.S. based support, it has grown to become one of the largest award-winning PBX/SIP providers in North America.