The way we work is changing. The last year has demonstrated there’s an enormous appetite to work flexibly. But the demand for more choice in how we work is not new. The pandemic only accelerated existing trends. Research from Adecco reveals that 79% of employees want more flexibility in how they work. So if businesses want to remain competitive, they will have to meet these new expectations.
Hybrid isn’t just about working from home. As Helen Slinger, Education Director, BT Enterprise explains in our latest episode of The Future Is Now, it’s being able to work wherever is best for your business and for your employees. New technologies are helping us collaborate whether we’re in the spare bedroom, in a client’s workplace, or on the road.
And most importantly, hybrid is a huge opportunity for business, because it removes limitations. You’re no longer tied to one place or time. There’s an entire world of potential customers to sell to and talent to hire. It’s a scale that before only the largest companies could operate.
So is your business ready for the new hybrid world? Here are five crucial questions to ask yourself.
The foundation of hybrid working is a reliable connection. It’s the key to unlocking the benefits of hybrid working, as only with a speedy internet connection can your teams make video calls, stream content and download the files they need.
For example, full-fibre broadband delivers reliable, high speed internet. Or a leased line gives you dedicated bandwidth exclusively to your business. This means that you will stay online – and fast – whatever time or day you need to transfer that enormous project file.
If your team is working from further afield, networking solutions such as a virtual private network (VPN) will connect everyone together. If you’re connected on the same VPN, it will feel as though you’re sharing a local network in the same building, instead of connecting through the internet.
And, of course, if you’re working on a job site, or while travelling to meet a client, 5G will make sure you can still access everything you need quickly, and without lag.
It’s being able to work wherever is best for your business and for your employees.
Can your employees still collaborate effectively?
With your people spread across different locations, you need to make sure they can still work well together. It’s important to make sure everyone can access everything they need to do their jobs. For example, are your documents stored in the cloud so that your team can work on them together? And can employees access the systems they need on the go?
An IP phone system moves your business applications to the cloud, and lets your team make and take calls from the same business numbers from anywhere. That way, you can answer calls from clients wherever you are, and still deliver the same great customer experience. With the PSTN network being switched off in 2025, it’s a good opportunity to review your communication tools.
And when people do come into work, the hybrid workplace should be a place for collaboration. It’s a place where you go to make plans, work together on a shared project, and meet clients. They are the place for socialising with colleagues and having conversations that can spark new ideas. Hybrid workplaces are not places we go to sit in silence. So think carefully about the layout and design. Do you need more agile collaboration areas? What about a kitchen or a social space?
From one perspective, hybrid working is great for expanding accessibility. Hybrid working means that people with limited mobility no longer need to commute to work. There are more opportunities for flexible working around childcare and family commitments too.
But there is another side. You need to be careful to avoid creating a two-tier workplace. How can your remote employees make their voices heard as loudly as those in the workplace?
Collaboration tools like Cisco WebEx and Microsoft Teams include features like video conferencing, instant messaging, screen sharing and recording, so even if everyone isn’t in the physical meeting it still feels inclusive and engaging. Or technology such as virtual and augmented reality takes this even further by creating a truly immersive environment.
Hybrid working requires thinking differently about security. In a traditional workplace, every computer, phone and internet connection are carefully controlled. To use them, you need physical access to the building.
But with hybrid, the opposite is true. People connect remotely, using potentially shared or public wifi hotspots and multiple different devices. When you go hybrid, it is an opportunity to review your cyber security. And it isn’t just about adding more security tools into the mix. Look for a trusted partner that can integrate your security solutions in one place, giving you a single view of security across your business. Helping you take advantage of hybrid, while keeping your work safe.
Finally, while technology is paving the way for a hybrid working future, it isn’t just about changing where we work, it’s about changing how we work. Sure, it’s convenient if you can work on that important account without needing to be in a specific room. But the real opportunity is to rethink your business processes from the ground up, and use technology to work more efficiently.
If you’re a team of healthcare professionals visiting patients could there be a better way? How about switching to visits on demand instead of following a fixed schedule, by taking advantage of reliable 5G mobile connectivity? That way, patients can request help and you can provide support when it is most needed.
Or maybe visits could be supplemented with video calls, to directly connect to customers without the need to travel. Or could your maintenance company employees begin their days by heading directly to their first appointment? Instead of checking into the office, they could download the details from the cloud while on route.
For smaller businesses, hybrid working could mean saving on the cost of a permanent office and opting for a communal space when there’s a need for face-to-face collaboration.
To make the most of hybrid working, you might need to rewire the way you work.
We have experts on hand to help you with anything you need. From designing your hybrid working strategy, to choosing the right technology and embedding it across your business. We’re here for you. Why not give us a ring?
Or want more advice on hybrid working? Read our latest whitepaper from Dr Nicola Millard, CTIO, BT Enterprise.