What is Hybrid Work?
Hybrid work is just what it sounds like: hybrid means a combination of two things, and work is…well, you know what work is.
Hybrid work refers to a work environment that includes a combination of working arrangements—individuals working from home, teams working in a central office, and teams working in multiple small, decentralized offices.
Why Hybrid? Why Now?
The COVID-19 pandemic year(s) caused a radical shift in the relationship between workers and employers when many employees were forced to work from home as a public health imperative. But once that genie was out of the bottle, there was no going back! Millions of workers got a taste of working from home and the flexibility and freedom it entails…and millions of companies had to loosen the reins and trust their employees to do their work without constant supervision. And you know what? By and large, employees came through and performed. Turns out most of them are responsible, competent adults with a good work ethic! (Who knew?) And companies realized that they could reduce their overhead costs and improve employee happiness (and retention) by continuing to offer some employees the option of working remotely, at least part-time. Further, companies realized that if they didn’t create hybrid work environments, they wouldn’t be competitive in attracting and retaining the best talent.
How Companies Can Embrace Hybrid Work
Adapting to hybrid work as the new reality isn’t as easy as allowing workers to stay home a few days a week. There must be both a cultural and technological infrastructure that supports it. Microsoft has created a guide to navigating the complexities of hybrid work; get your free copy here.
That report explains how a company needs to make a shift in three areas: People, Places, and Processes. Here’s a summary of some key points:
People: Hybrid work is inevitable, so don’t fight it. Instead, empower managers to lead the shift, and create clear, flexible work policies that give people the choice in how, when, and where they work.
Places: The company’s office spaces will need to be redesigned and equipped with new technology to support the hybrid work model; yesterday’s teleconferencing equipment won’t cut it. Physical spaces must be transformed into intelligent, cloud-powered environments that support hybrid meetings where some workers are in the office, and some are connecting remotely by phone or video. Microsoft Teams Rooms offers some innovations in conference room design that enable every participant to be seen, heard, and fully participate from anywhere, for example.
Processes: In-house servers and IT systems can’t be the center of a company’s technological universe anymore. Being cloud-centered enables workers and the processes they follow to function equally well from any location, so move everything to the cloud as quickly as you can and digitize every business process. Platforms like Microsoft Teams can function as an organizing layer for all the ways that people work, learn, and collaborate, with new applications being designed that can run within the Teams environment.
How Hybrid Work Affects Security
The “old way” of computer security was to store all important data inside the company’s physical buildings and protect that perimeter vigorously. Physical security, firewalls, and other tools were deployed that drew a sharp distinction between the computers inside that perimeter and outside it.
That model doesn’t work in a hybrid work environment because critical data and processes are no longer confined to one location. The IT staff can be located anywhere now—not just in the basement of your headquarters. And the critical data you need to protect can be anywhere too. That’s why moving the company’s IT operations to the cloud is so critical. No matter where workers are, the cloud is always protected.
Zero Trust architecture becomes more and more important in this new world. To fend off the constant threat of cyberattacks, you can no longer presume that any environment, device, or identity is more secure than any other. Each resource must be verified when it connects and continually monitored as it operates. Multi-factor authentication is an important addition to make to key systems and identities, and Tools like Microsoft Intune, Windows Hello for Business, and Azure Authenticator can all contribute to creating a secure environment that IT can trust and employees won’t feel burdened by.
Hybrid work is here to stay, and companies that expect to thrive going forward must align their people, places, and processes to be friendly to this new way of working. Microsoft tools like Azure, Teams, and 365 are all key components in creating a successful new technology infrastructure, and CoreView can help you manage them.
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