people working in a modern office

The future of work case study

Discover why collaboration, infrastructure and security are key to hybrid working success.

The future of work case study

Discover why collaboration, infrastructure and security are key to hybrid working success.

The challenge

The pandemic changed how our people work, and we needed the right strategy to transition to a secure and efficient hybrid working set-up.

The solution

Rollout of a secure strategy that works for all our people, and an upgrade of our workplace network and workspaces for seamless connection and collaboration.

The result

A clear global strategy that has delivered sustainable and cost-efficient benefits, and has made our people happier and more productive.

The challenge

The pandemic changed how our people work, and we needed the right strategy to transition to a secure and efficient hybrid working set-up.

The solution

Rollout of a secure strategy that works for all our people, and an upgrade of our workplace network and workspaces for seamless connection and collaboration.

The result

A clear global strategy that has delivered sustainable and cost-efficient benefits, and has made our people happier and more productive.

Overview

Hybrid work is here. Across the globe, organisations are resetting their workplace strategy. And we’re no different. From the iconic BT Tower to our many locations worldwide, we’ve transformed how they’re set up to better reflect that our people now split their time between working at home, in the office, and on the go.

The challenge

Our workspaces no longer worked. The pandemic accelerated a shift towards fewer of our people working in the office every day. But when they did come in, more of them also wanted to work together. This meant we had lots of empty desks, but not enough meeting rooms. While our older buildings lacked the right tech set-up to easily include remote workers in meetings too.

We decided to reduce our location portfolio and move to more modern facilities. But we also wanted to make sure our IT strategy was right for how we work now. This included making the most of collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams, deploying omnichannel scheduling and better ways of booking and managing rooms. With more of our people working online, we also wanted to step up our security – but without sacrificing user experience.

The road to hybrid working is littered with obstacles and wrong turns. There’s no silver bullet solution, but based on our own experience, we’ve discovered some golden rules and focal areas which will help guide the way for our customers.
Andrew Small Director of Digital Workplace, BT

The solution

No two businesses are the same, and the same goes for hybrid working set-ups. Solutions should be tailored to an organisation’s needs, helping people do their jobs brilliantly.

We started with a prioritisation exercise – we knew we had to care about a security policy based on both device and network-level cases and simple, seamless at-desk experiences – which led to deploying device upgrades and single-sign-on technology.

We mainly applied five ways to harness technology and power up through proper planning:

1. Making hybrid working work business-wide

To make sure our new workplace would work for everyone, we didn’t create our IT strategy in isolation. We brought together stakeholders from across the organisation to discuss it. This helped us identify and fix potential problems, and make sure our plan supported wider business initiatives.

This collaborative approach meant we could also share knowledge. For instance, our head of HR helped our IT team better understand our people’s needs. Key to this was also the delivery of a user adoption programme, covering the right user communications, education and training.

2. A better experience whether they’re in the room or on Zoom

Hybrid working is different from flexible working. It doesn’t just mean our people can pick and choose when they come into the office. It’s about completely reimagining how we approach work, so everyone can work just as well, whether they’re in the office or at home. 

We upgraded our workplace LAN and wi-fi service, making it easier for everyone in the office to stay connected and collaborate online. We’ve enhanced our meeting rooms with directional speakers and improved cameras – so that remote workers can get just as involved in meetings as those physically there.

3. Giving our people the freedom to work the way they want

With work now split across locations, teams are increasingly connecting in the cloud. In fact, the average person now uses three and a half collaboration tools, and a third of us use six. 

That’s why we offer our people a choice of platforms – Zoom, Cisco and Microsoft Teams – that can integrate through Session Layer. Individuals can choose which they prefer, but teams can still work together from anywhere.

4. Connectivity you can count on

We noticed that more of our people were choosing to work from home when they had a specific job to focus on, and our workspaces were being used for team meetings and collaborative projects. So we’ve ditched solitary desks for more meeting rooms and breakout areas.

To make sure our connectivity never slows down collaboration, we've also rolled out a Software-Defined Wide Area Network SD-WAN in all our corporate offices. This prioritises critical apps and traffic, so our people enjoy the best performance. We’ve also established direct peering with our major cloud providers, reducing latency and lag time when using online tools.

5. Working anywhere means staying secure everywhere

There was a 400% increase in email attacks in 2020. Many cybercriminals tried to exploit the pandemic confusion and target those working from home. 

To make sure our people and business data remain safe, we’re embedding security more deeply into our network. This makes it easier for us to spot shadow IT and react faster to threats – without impacting the user experience and allowing our people to work as smoothly as ever.

The result

We now have a clear global workplace strategy. This gives us a better user experience, seamless collaboration, and smarter employee services. This is improving our productivity as we roll it out across our sites.  This new approach also allows us to recruit and retain diverse teams and have a more inclusive workforce, which will drive innovation in our organisation.

Our hybrid working approach also gives us happier employees, cost efficiencies, and sustainability benefits as we reduce our carbon footprint through fit-for-purpose technology.