5 Success Factors for a Hybrid Workforce Model
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When organizations were forced to suddenly shift to remote work, many were caught unprepared and scrambled to implement ad-hoc solutions.
There was no playbook detailing how to support employees during these uncertain times or a cheat sheet outlining must-have technology in a global pandemic. Even organizations that were already embracing work-from-anywhere strategies and technologies struggled under the scale of the change.
Fast forward to today, and we've all learned a lot about business continuity and resilience, the digital employee experience and the importance of preparedness. And while parts of the world remain in lockdown and others have reopened, organizations across the globe can agree on one thing: hybrid work is a key component of the post-pandemic workplace — and, this time, they'll be ready for it.
To successfully support a hybrid workforce model, we've identified five key factors that digital workspace leaders must prioritize when managing their workforce and developing company policies.
1. Workforce distribution
The first step of implementing a hybrid work model is determining which employees are best suited for remote work versus office-based work. For example, individual contributors and sales-focused roles often benefit from remote work, while creative or highly collaborative roles — marketing, design, R&D, engineering — tend to perform better with in-person, ad-hoc interaction.
WWT's dynamic persona modeling methodology can help you determine the right structure for your workforce and company culture. Our approach brings together IT and line-of-business leaders to align end-user needs, technology requirements and business objectives.
We utilize job descriptions, employee interviews, historical IT data and institutional knowledge to build dynamic personas, or groupings of end users that share common characteristics, services and requirements. This allows IT to provide more personalized support to employees and map specific personas to remote, semi-remote or office-based work.
2. Hybrid workplace technology and design
Before the pandemic, many organizations allowed employees to work from home occasionally. Now, remote work is part of the new normal.
Employees rotate frequently — if not daily — between the office and remote work. Office-based work is more intentional with employees coming on-site to attend meetings or accomplish a specific objective. The hybrid office is a primary destination for team meetings, social gatherings, highly collaborative project meetings and creative brainstorming.
To support this new office dynamic, organizations must rethink their physical spaces to accommodate more meeting rooms and huddle spaces and fewer assigned cubicles and desks. These spaces need to be equipped with easy-to-use videoconferencing technology as nearly every meeting includes at least one remote participant.
Organizations must also determine which spaces require a reservation and which are first come, first serve. Office hoteling applications and room reservation systems allow employees to easily pre-book spaces or desks so they can ensure maximum productivity on the days they are in the office.
Lastly, organizations should consider implementing wayfinding technology to provide interactive maps throughout the office. Given the changes we've discussed so far, your hybrid office might look different from the pre-pandemic office. Wayfinding and digital signage solutions can help employees orient themselves to the new office layout and avoid wasting time trying to find teammates and locate their next meeting.
3. Employee access to business-critical tools and applications
In a hybrid work model, organizations must empower their employees to be productive from any location. This means providing access to applications from anywhere, at any time, on any device.
During the pandemic, many organizations relied on subpar VPN connections to enable employees to work from home and maintain business continuity. Now it's time to shift to a long-term solution.
Leveraging a modern device management platform like VMware's Workspace ONE or Microsoft's Modern Workplace provides many benefits for managing a geo-diverse workforce.
Organizations can virtualize applications and desktops to deliver high-performance user experiences without the need for full-device VPN connections. Employees can continue supporting the business from wherever they are, and with any available device.
These platforms also allow organizations to better manage devices, both on and off the network. If an employee works remotely for an extended period of time and never connects to the VPN, organizations can still manage and secure the device to keep it compliant.
Finally, modern management platforms provide employees with a personalized application catalog that includes the business-critical applications they need to do their jobs. As employees rotate between the office and remote work, this allows them to seamlessly access the tools they need to be productive.
4. Employee safety
As local and regional conditions continue to fluctuate, large organizations, especially those with global offices, are keeping a close eye on policies and technologies that can help keep employees healthy and safe. WWT has developed and implemented several technology solutions geared toward employee safety, from physical distance monitoring to entry screenings and contactless experiences.
Physical distance monitoring
Smart cameras can help Facilities teams capture and track entries and exits into specific locations, such as meeting rooms or huddle spaces, to understand traffic patterns and how spaces are utilized. Should an outbreak occur, this footage can help pinpoint which employees have been exposed. This information can also help inform decisions around office layouts and collaboration spaces. Request a briefing to learn how smart cameras can help you gain insights into your employees' and customers' behaviors.
Organizations with frontline workers and massive shift changes have streamlined temperature scanning to save time and minimize disruption. Learn more about how WWT can help with entry screenings here.
Many organizations are adopting touchless technologies and QR codes to keep conference rooms, visitor check-in desks, time clock stations and other areas clean. See how Cisco Webex and digital signage can help minimize contact in conference rooms here.
IoT sensors and analytics for real-time alerts
Consider implementing IoT sensors to effectively monitor:
- Meeting room usage: This can provide insight into optimizing employee schedules to reduce office traffic on specific days or adding more meeting rooms.
- Air quality and ventilation: Facilities teams can leverage this information to detect issues or concerns that may impact their ability to reduce virus transmission should an outbreak occur.
- Cleaning frequency: Send alerts when rooms need to be cleaned or hand sanitizer stations are low. This data can be integrated with digital signage to display the time a room was last cleaned.
- Entry and exit points: Ensure one-way foot traffic throughout the building.
Digital signage for workplace safety communication
The pandemic has changed how we clean and sanitize offices as well as employees' feelings about sharing workspaces. Organizations can use digital signage to share updated safety procedures and available workstations.
5. Improved and secure office connectivity
Employees need consistent connectivity, performance and access to critical applications in the office, at home or wherever work takes them.
Wireless connectivity within the hybrid office
Many office wireless networks are designed primarily for coverage, guest access, and connectivity in conference rooms and common areas, but not for the capacity or density needed to support mobile and collaborative employees.
As organizations update their offices to include more huddle spaces and shared visual spaces, their wireless networks must expand to support open floor plans and connectivity from any area within the building.
Organizations must also consider that employees returning to the office have become accustomed to using voice, video and team workspace applications on their devices, which will put additional strain on office networks. At the same time, employee safety solutions such as IoT sensors and wayfinding, will all need to connect through an organization's wireless network.
Leveraging new technology standards like Wi-Fi 6 can help organizations avoid a capacity crunch, ensure greater connectivity speed and ultimately provide employees with great application experiences.
Secure access wherever employees are located
Many organizations are already leveraging SD-WAN architectures to better support geo-diverse workforces, quickly provision remote offices and temporary locations, troubleshoot remotely, and apply segmentation policies to control access permissions. However, in a hybrid work model, organizations must consider ways to provide employees with more consistent and predictable secure access from anywhere.
Concepts like secure access service edge (SASE) and zero trust can help organizations adapt to a fluctuating network edge; apply consistent security policies, regardless of where the end user is located; and protect against threats, both inside and outside of the organization's four walls.
Adopt hybrid work with complete confidence
There is much to consider when transitioning to a hybrid work model. Organizations must identify which employees will return to the office versus remain remote; understand how employees will collaborate, connect and access the tools they need; and enhance efforts to ensure employee safety.
At WWT, we understand each office faces its own unique set of challenges and considerations. We can help guide you through these five success factors and identify the right technologies for your organization so you can improve the digital employee experience while maintaining a safe workplace.