• Tom Sermon

Hybrid - but not electric...

How the pandemic has revolutionised the way we work

Hybrid is a word we often come across when reading about trends, such as hybrid cars, hybrid cloud or hybrid networks. But recently this term has also been used to describe a new way of working in which you split your working time between working from home and office based working, allowing employees greater flexibility. It may have taken a pandemic to reveal that giving workers what they want is in fact beneficial for the bottom line—but now that companies have taken the leap, the future of work is looking to be hybrid. Let’s find out what that means for you.

The way we work has maybe changed more in the last twelve months than it has over the past twelve years. With the sudden outbreak of COVID-19, many of us had to set up an office in our spare room or in a corner of the living room, leaving offices empty. But now that restrictions are slowly easing in the UK, where and how will we continue to work?

Currently, people who can work from home are still advised to do so by the UK government but this advice may change at the next review gate. Having enjoyed the benefits of working from home, many of us cannot imagine going back to the office full-time whereas others can’t wait to head back to the office, having missed the social interactions and an office away from home. In a search for a compromise, many organisations are looking at offering a hybrid work model to their staff. In fact, a recent BBC survey showed that almost all of the 50 large UK employers questioned, do not plan to ask their staff to return full-time. A hybrid model seems to be a good compromise and in line with the findings of a recent Boston Consulting Group (BCG) study of 2,000 UK employees which revealed that...

" ....67% of those working remotely since COVID-19 want to be able to split their time between the physical workplace and home working in the future"

Boston Consulting Group (BCG) study of 2,000 UK employees

But as with any compromise, will it work for everyone?

Overall employees’ desire for greater control, flexibility, and freedom in where and when they work is at the very core of hybrid working. Sounds great, right? Yet, having a unified approach rarely works for everyone. To keep morale high amongst staff, organisations may want to consider to offer their employees to either return to the office full-time, work fully from home or apply the hybrid model on an individual basis. This would allow employees the freedom to choose the work model that truly works best for them.

More and more companies have reduced office sizes and instead opted for more hot-desking, meeting rooms and social pods that allow for a more relaxed and collaborative environment.

Providing such a large scale of flexibility may not be feasible for all businesses at this moment in time. If your business can't meet these new working demands, it is time to prepare for this new era of working. After or towards the end of the pandemic, people’s desire for hybrid will increase—and employers who don’t offer hybrid options will be missing out on an opportunity to improve key business outcomes and may lose talent. So how do you, as a business or IT department, prepare? A hybrid approach requires your business to make various changes and may in fact increase your demand for greater cyber security, device management and more ‘as-a-service’ solutions. With cyber attacks on the rise, having the right cyber security in place has never been as important.

“Cybercriminals are developing and boosting their attacks at an alarming pace, exploiting the fear and uncertainty caused by the unstable social and economic situation created by COVID-19.”

Jürgen Stock, INTERPOL Secretary General

According to a Harvard Business Review, 1 out of 4 companies have purchased new technology, for the first time, to track and monitor their employees to ensure the security of business and its data. With a hybrid approach meaning working from home more often, this demand for monitoring software will further increase.

It is worth pointing out that the hybrid model will not work for everyone or every sector. In fact, many physical or manual activities, as well as those that require use of fixed equipment, cannot be done remotely. Overall though, a hybrid working model may become "the new normal" as it seems to provide great opportunities for more flexibility for employees in regards to where they can work. But will it stop there?

Having worked from home, many employees find that they can structure their days more freely and create a better work life balance. The traditional "9AM - 5PM" working day could soon be a concept of the past, too. Some organisations have already introduced "core hours", allowing employees to start and finish work at a time that suits them as long as they are available during the core hours of each working day.

At Arc Phoenix we understand that each business is different and faces unique challenges. Whatever approach you choose, may it be a full return to the office, fulltime work from home or in fact a hybrid model, we can supply you with the right IT solutions to ensure your business runs smoothly and protects your employees and data.

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