According to a study by Microsoft, 73% of employees wish to retain the flexible work-from-home arrangements that many companies initiated in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Awhile almost 67% want to bring back in-person contact and collaboration. The overlapping figures clearly imply that remote work is here to stay in the aftermath of the pandemic, and so is The pandemic made us realize that much of our work can be done remotely from anywhere and that physical presence at the workplace is not always necessary. However, there are certain processes and business meetings that are better off done in person rather than online.
The combination of remote work and in-office work offers higher flexibility to employees and helps organizations achieve better productivity. Business leaders across the world are embracing the hybrid model to achieve flexibility and promote better work-life balance.
Challenges in Adopting the Hybrid Workplace Model
A hybrid model comes with its share of challenges or growing pains, even as the world settles into this new normal. That doesn’t mean that the concerns related to security, increased complexity and interoperability are not unfounded. The use of the cloud, productivity apps, communication platforms and cybersecurity measures are key tools that mitigate these concerns. They allow businesses to choose the right combination of security controls and the capability and flexibility they need for their business operations. Let’s discuss the five most common challenges (and their solutions) that a company faces when moving to a hybrid workplace model.
Challenge 1: Communication
is at the heart of the concept of remote work and hybrid workplaces. It is the thread that binds the two sides in a hybrid model. With some teams sitting in offices and others scattered across the globe, it becomes imperative to use technology for tools that bridge the communication gap and help workers connect in real-time. Modern workplace suites, such as Microsoft Teams and Skype are great examples of tools that help raise productivity.
These tools have various features that allow teams to communicate in groups, collaborate, and share/update documents in real-time. However, formal training on these technologies is critical to the optimum utilization of these tools and techniques so that employees know how to use the technologies needed to support a hybrid or virtual work environment.
Challenge 2: Coordination and Collaboration
Coordination becomes a challenge when a remote worker gets left out of discussions and decisions that happen face-to-face among those who are working in the office. This can create confusion and a feeling of being left out. One solution to this problem is the use of collaboration tools and decision-making apps that support analysis of influencing factors and takes into account all stakeholders’ views before suggesting the most favorable outcome. This will help users — remote or otherwise — to be on the same page and be aware of even the minutest of changes that happen in a document or a project. Cloud-based office suites offer great functionality in this area.
Challenge 3: Connection and Sharing Resources
The challenge of connecting is not only limited to problems in coordination or technology, but it’s also a feeling of disconnection from the culture of an organization. Professional networking and mentoring relationships sometimes take a backseat when working remotely. The social life of a workplace and bonds between employees can be lost, creating a divide between employees. Those working in the office may have access to better resources, and those working remotely are sometimes left behind. One solution to this problem is the use of the cloud. A cloud approach helps employees access and share resources in a seamless manner — whether working from home or the office. For instance, Salesforce has created a digital HQ, which provides its employees with a single source of information and knowledge sharing that helps them securely co-create, access data, collaborate and unite teams across the board.
A similar centralized source of collaboration and information powered by the cloud is ideal for companies planning a move to a hybrid workplace.
Challenge 4: Upskilling Employees
Implementing a hybrid model gets easier if your team members upskill and master the technologies and tools required in a remote set up. This may require extensive assessments and training sessions. This sounds like a lot of hard work, but this task also gets simplified if you go for systematic needs assessment plans and flexible training options that are customized to fit a company’s unique goals and requirements.
A needs assessment can offer a step-by-step approach to help organizations measure their employees’ cloud skill gaps and plan for a customized training solution. Now, upskilling employees doesn’t mean you have to take learners off the job to learn. eLearning solutions and 24/7 learning labs offered by many training providers allow employees the flexibility to learn at their own pace, anytime and anywhere.
Challenge 5: Cyber Threats
When people use different gadgets to access official resources, the vulnerability almost doubles. The attackers launch highly targeted and sophisticated phishing attacks posing as emails from co-workers or from someone in higher management. Similarly, “vishing,” or voice over internet protocol (VoIP) phishing attacks are also common. This is when attackers use voice calls to trick people into divulging sensitive financial information. “Smishing” is another identity theft method that uses text messages to pose as a bank or financial authority, asking victims to settle an issue at the bank by paying dues or sharing critical bank account details.
A hybrid work culture attracts cyberthreats like a magnet. However, the right security policies and cyber threat awareness in the workforce can prevent the havoc created by a data breach. With Cybersecurity awareness training, employees can be more proactive in identifying a threat and stop themselves from falling prey to such attacks.
Business leaders need not start from scratch to make a hybrid culture work in their organization. They can follow a step-by-step approach, starting with motivating their employees and promoting training programs focused on digital skills such as cloud, cybersecurity and working knowledge of collaborative and productivity tools. With this approach, any hybrid environment can be successful and safe, while maintaining steady growth for the organization.