The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the workspace forever. There won't be a return to 'normal'; rather, the office is evolving to the 'next normal'. While there will be similarities to the office of old, the hybrid work environment will mean some significant strategic workplace modifications, new working practices and a renewed focus on the technology to support these.
Despite 74 percent of companies planning to permanently shift to more remote work post-COVID, full-time remote work arrangements may not be sustainable for many roles. The reasons for having a physical office go beyond just having a shared place to work. Workplace culture, learning and development and collaboration are all strong motivations for coming together in a co-located space.
But with continued social distancing and fears of virus transmission it appears that new hybrid working models, where people alternate between working in the office and remotely, are not only becoming more prevalent, they are part of the 'next normal'.
In fact, Mick Heys, vice president, Future of Workspace and Imaging at IDC says, "There's no doubt that the hybrid model will become the norm going forward - the pandemic has only accelerated an ongoing shift."
What does the hybrid work environment look like?
The 'next normal' workforce includes a few types of employees:
- Co-located or onsite employees work in the office full-time.
- Remote employees work outside of a traditional office environment, whether that's at home or from different locations.
- Hybrid employees are a fusion between the two other groups, meaning they spend a portion of their time working in the office and some of their time working elsewhere.
With a mix of employees in and out of the office, new ways of communicating and collaborating are critical to building successful relationships, as well as productivity and efficiency at work. Technology has an essential role to play in the success of the hybrid workforce as it becomes the enabler for interaction between colleagues and teams.
The hybrid workplace tech stack
Workplaces aren't always equipped to support a hybrid workforce, whether that's a lack of available desks or way-finding to help navigation for those who aren't regularly in the office. But perhaps most importantly, the office needs to be equipped with the right technology to support hybrid workers.
HR Executive writes that companies are now re-evaluating their technology budgets in support of this new hybrid workplace with more investment in a hybrid of remote and in-office resources.
Cloud solutions for a hybrid work environment
Cloud and mobile-friendly printing
Traditional printing, with its cables, software drivers and compatibility issues, just isn't made for the hybrid workforce. Instead, cloud printing, which connects smartphones, tablets and laptops with printers wirelessly, is the preferred option.
At Kyocera we enable and support our customers to move to a cloud printing model every day. Clients are often impressed and surprised by the connectivity benefits they can achieve through seamless and reliable printing across the network, regardless of the user’s hardware or location. Cloud printing provides a convenient and simple solution for everyone, whether they are full-time in the office or visiting for a day. Employees no longer have to bother with clunky software, drivers, or cables, and IT doesn’t have to deal with overwhelming support calls. Additionally, it enables users to securely print from mobile devices, without the concern of device compatibility and drivers, or having to send documents to a computer for printing.
In a hybrid work environment, employees can no longer rely on proximity to enable collaboration. Instead, cloud-based tools are now used for phone and video calls, meetings, instant message, file sharing and much more. Choosing a sophisticated platform such as Microsoft Teams allows organisations to create an integrated cloud collaboration environment, with multiple communication methods using a single interface, and integration with other productivity systems, including Office 365, Salesforce and content service solutions.
Choosing the right collaboration tools for your business based on your unique challenges, needs, users and work environment will increase productivity, teamwork and communication regardless of your employees’ location. If you’re not sure where to start, engaging an ICT service provider is a good place to start. Huon IT, a Kyocera Group company, has extensive experience supporting businesses to create and implement digital collaboration strategies.
The ability to access, manage and work with data is critical for all employees no matter where they are located. Implementing cloud document storage allows co-located, remote and hybrid workers to quickly find and share files, implement reliable version control, and in general, get their work done with the minimal amount of time wasted.
Cloud storage allows employees to stay productive from wherever they choose to work - the office, at home, a co-working space, on the road, or any other location - while keeping your data secure.
Building a resilient and productive hybrid work environment requires the right hardware, software and processes. Download our Smarter Workplaces Guide for a step-by-step strategy for implementing an effective hybrid work model that equips your employees to work anywhere, any time.