Written by Mark Benson, CTO, Logicalis UK&I
The tides are changing, and business leaders need to realise that their employees are no longer confined to the walls of their office space or the shackled to their desks. In fact, PwC found that 79% of employees value the importance of flexible working to maintain a good work-life balance in the wake of the pandemic.
Employees now have the opportunity to centre their lives around life rather than the office – and organisations have now been given the job of moving operations online, ensuring staff can easily carry out their daily tasks wherever they are. However, this isn’t just simply a case of directly transferring the office workplace online. Employees need to be given the right tools and solutions for them to successfully carry out their everyday duties and be able to collaborate with their colleagues remotely. What do businesses need to keep in mind when they are transforming their workplaces?
One size doesn’t fit all
Where on earth do you start? Most businesses find that transforming their workforce isn’t as straightforward as they initially thought. This is because a workforce transformation needs to be tailored and targeted – there isn’t a ‘one-size fits all’ option. Every organisation is different, may that be in terms of people, services, or industry. Preferred methods of working differ from employee to employee, making it more difficult to decide on solutions to implement.
ONS data shows the proportion of hybrid workers has risen from 13% in February 2022 to 24% in May 2022. Hybrid working is on steady incline, showing it really is here to stay. Staff want to be able to move freely between home and the office – they want to be able to grab their laptops and be able to get to work immediately. Organisations also need to avoid simply recreating the office in a digital form as this often leaves employees with clumsy and uninspiring work environments. Workplace tools should encourage collaboration or allow individual work in quiet spaces where needed.
Keeping employees safe
According to HP, 71% of employees access more company data, more frequently, from home than they did pre-pandemic. With staff working from home and company networks no longer just being accessed from offices, the attack surface has dramatically increased. Cyber criminals have more entry options than ever. Cyber security company, Check Point, found an increase in exploitation of remote access solutions, email thread hijacking, and vulnerable endpoints. The longer remote working is insecure, the more likely it becomes for a major cyber-attack to happen.
Home and public WIFI networks aren’t as secure as those found in office spaces. It’s more than likely employees aren’t aware of the risks they impose to their own organisations just by working from home. One of the most important defences is employees’ own diligence when working from home. However, 37% of organisations admit they haven’t educated their staff on how to avoid a security breach. Hackers scour for the easiest way in and with organisations having multiple remote employees, networks are freely accessible for cyber criminals.
It’s noy an option for staff not to be educated on the simple things they can do to protect themselves against attack – especially with businesses handling employee, customer and partner data. Using secure VPNs when away from the office, keeping on top of software updates and being aware of phishing scams are all easy things that can level up security defences. Other things organisations can do themselves to avoid attacks are ensuring vulnerabilities are identified and quickly patched, stopping hackers from entering through weak points.
Bridging generational divides
Millennials and Generation Z have been dubbed the “digital generations”. Growing up with smartphones in their hands, they’re often a lot more tech-savvy than older workers. Outdated or slow digital working tools frustrate them, making it harder to carry out tasks. With the digital generations predicted to make up over a quarter of the workforce by 2025, organisations must get ahead of the game. Research from Bankrate shows that 77% of Gen Z and 63% of Millennials plan to look for a new job at some point over the next year. By not ensuring technologies are up-to-date, businesses risk helping the younger generations out of the door.
More and more jobs require digital skills and older, more experienced employees may find it difficult to get to grips with new technologies. Implementing smooth solutions and providing staff with training ensures no employee is left struggling. But fewer than one in 10 businesses train staff to use new technologies, creating a digital skills gap between generations. By cutting corners on this aspect of training, staff can’t work effectively as they should be able to. Not only this, but organisations will be overpaying for solutions that aren’t being used to their full potential.
Collaborating in a remote world
Collaboration is a key part of any organisation. It’s what helps businesses to innovate and create their own unique selling points. But, 20% of employees have said problems with collaboration are their biggest concern when working remotely. This presents a problem as research by PwC discovered 78% of CEOs believe there is a permanent shift towards remote collaboration
In our personal lives, the pandemic has taught us all the value of technology in relationships and communication. Messages can be sent; video calls can be made; and games can be played multiplayer at a touch of a button. DHL’s CEO even emphasised that the world is more connected than ever – organisations need to focus on ensuring their employees also feel this way.
A successful and revitalized workplace relies on an organisation’s ability to reflect on its business needs. Being able to trial and error different hybrid and remote working tools helps organisations choose solutions that suit them in the long run. Racing to complete a transformation can leave businesses with clunky working atmospheres that have to be adapted more than once, rather than having an innovative one from the get-go. But above all, organisations need to ensure their workplace is consistent no matter if an employee is working from home or HQ.