Contact Us

The hybrid
workplace:
Navigating the
hybrid working
environment

Author: Rose de Fremery

As businesses resume in-office work in varying degrees, they're confronting the many ways in which work itself has changed during the pandemic. The emerging work environment that organizations create now will have to accommodate new expectations around social norms for in-person interactions as well as what productivity looks like and where it happens.

Historians and anthropologists suggest that even after the pandemic ends, some of the behaviors we've adopted may be here to stay. Here's how the hybrid workplace is evolving and how leaders are making the transition.

Remote work is driving a shift toward the hybrid workplace

According to research from PwC, 87% of employees still say the office is important for collaborating with team members and building relationships. At the same time, over half of them (55%) would prefer to work remotely at least three days a week once pandemic concerns recede. Given that 68% of executives feel employees must be present in the office at least three days a week to maintain company culture, there's clearly a gap in expectations for the emerging work environment that business leaders must address.

Meanwhile, as the PwC report notes, many younger workers have left urban environments for smaller cities like Raleigh, North Carolina, or Austin, Texas, where they can work remotely while enjoying a lower cost of living. As corporate real estate portfolios shift, business leaders will need to decide what types of office environments work best for their organizations. Some may simply expand their definition of the office to include employees working from geographically distributed locations, while others may actually follow the workers and relocate their offices to these new cities.

Then there are the workers who are returning to traditional offices after long absences. Some of these employees may find that they're no longer as comfortable using communal spaces or shared devices as they once were. They may prefer to work in separate, individual areas and use their own hardware, for example. Others may specifically come in to meet with colleagues or clients, digitally booking spaces for these meetings as well as separate rooms for focused individual work. Technology will play a role in helping all of these employees feel safe and productive as they re-enter these offices.

How business leaders can adjust to the hybrid workplace

Business leaders are determining how best to adjust to this emerging work environment. As they do, technology and policy likely will play important roles in enabling the transition. A detailed remote work policy likely is no longer optional. By allowing flexible work arrangements where appropriate, companies will be able to increase employee satisfaction and retention while also opening the door to a more diverse and geographically distributed talent pipeline.

A bring your own device (BYOD) policy will also likely be essential in the hybrid workplace, giving employees the freedom to use their own mobile devices while making it easier for IT and security teams to stay on top of potential cyber threats. A clear BYOD policy likely can be helpful in supporting remote work and potentially in-office work as well. It allows employees to use their personal devices instead of relying on shared devices—something health-conscious office workers will likely appreciate.

Unified communication and collaboration solutions help enable remote work even for employees with highly collaborative jobs. That means businesses have an opportunity to support their employees' desire for greater work-life balance without sacrificing business productivity. Business leaders can solve many remote work challenges with such smart technology solutions. For example, they can integrate unified communications platforms with popular business productivity applications and customer relationship management (CRM) tools to further enhance remote productivity.

Managed services and the emerging hybrid working environment

Navigating the transition to a hybrid workplace can be a daunting proposition, but it doesn't have to be. Managed services can help support this process. For example, these services can help clarify a BYOD policy and what it encompasses, and they can determine the types of network resources and security enhancements that will be essential for carrying it out. Recent Verizon research found that approximately 40% of surveyed organizations reported a mobile-related compromise during the pandemic. Given the BYOD security challenges many companies have experienced during this period, it's important to anticipate and plan for the risks associated with a larger attack surface when transitioning to a hybrid workplace.

Remote collaboration also requires thoughtful preparation, and managed services can be of benefit in this area, too. An experienced partner can help you create a plan for deploying a unified communications system, taking your remote workforce requirements into account and providing training to ensure your employees feel confident using their new collaboration tools from anywhere, using any device. Such a plan can also include integration with key business applications, maximizing the value of your technology investment while boosting productivity even further.

Successfully transition to a hybrid workplace

As employees begin returning to the office, business leaders are asking themselves big-picture questions about the emerging work environment and what the office of the future will look like, including how and where work will take place. Companies and employees alike now see it's possible to work efficiently in a remote setting. Now, with in-person collaboration a possibility once more, many organizations likely will be deciding how best to design their office spaces to support employee productivity even as they clarify policy surrounding remote work options. The businesses that tackle these questions now likely will have the best chance of successfully transitioning to a hybrid workplace and thriving in the future.

Learn more about how Verizon can support implementing a BYOD policy.