Still figuring out the right hybrid work strategy for your organization

The last two years have transformed the workplace forever. Hybrid or flexible working, where employees split their time between the office and home, is fast becoming the norm. Organizations will need an overarching strategy and methodology that is regularly revisited for it to be successful in the long term.

Alongside industry heavyweights including Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Ford Motor Company, Orange Business is leading the march to radically redesign the workplace, adopting hybrid working to create a versatile and adaptable environment to satisfy company and employee needs.

According to Gartner, 75% of hybrid or remote knowledge workers say their expectations for working flexibility have increased. In addition, four out of 10 employees are at risk of leaving if an organization insists they return to an in-person office environment, maintains the analyst firm.

However, introducing hybrid working isn’t simple. It requires a significant culture shift, technological change, and a well-thought-out strategy balancing employee demands with business outcomes. However, 49% of HR leaders say they do not have an explicit future-of-work strategy. In an accelerating world, this can have harmful impacts on companies’ businesses.

Clarity is the key to flexible working

Hybrid working comes with great promises, including a better work-life balance, higher job satisfaction and motivation levels, access to a greater talent pool and potential savings on office space. But it is paramount to invest time and resources in a strategy and policies that underpin the concept of hybrid working. Getting it wrong can result in hemorrhaging staff, productivity and profits.

Enterprises also need to navigate the “great resignation” phenomena, a concept proposed by Professor Anthony Kiotz of Texas A&M University, who forecasts that record numbers of people will leave their jobs when the pandemic ends as people re-evaluate their careers and lives.

Although productivity remains a primary concern for organizations instigating hybrid working, there are other significant problems to overcome. These include maintaining workforce culture, creating parity between the office and remote experience, enabling collaboration and providing a seamless user experience.

Organizations must get the proper training and development on new hybrid work practices alongside the latest technologies. Part of this exercise will be defining and clarifying the roles and responsibilities of hybrid workers.

Microsoft maintains that every organization will need its own strategy that puts people at the core and encompasses policy, physical space and technology. Companies need to answer questions such as who will need to come into the office, when and why? How will people effectively collaborate? The office space will need to provide a robust bridge between the physical and digital worlds. This is exactly the road we are traveling with our hybrid working policy at Orange. For example, Bridge, the Orange Group headquarters near Paris, has been designed around an enhanced workspace experience to enable employees to take full advantage of digital services. This includes advanced collaboration tools, geolocated room booking and building management services.

Orange also delivered a smart interactive office solution to support one of its customers based on Facilities Now. It incorporates a mobile app that simplifies the daily working lives of employees and visitors to sites. The app can carry out multiple functions, from finding the way around an office building to booking a meeting room. Users can alert colleagues if they will be late for a meeting or check traffic reports before leaving for a meeting, for example.

It is crucial to remember that every organization is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Consulting with employees is vital in developing processes, policies and technology. It provides clarity on a hybrid working program and will give greater buy-in down the line to ensure our employees are happy, innovative and productive.

Here at Orange, our consultative approach makes it possible to provide tailored solutions, including connectivity, collaboration, security and cloud capabilities.

Finding the right path towards a successful hybrid workspace

Choosing the right digital tools for the tasks is pivotal to powering hybrid working. In a report by Jabra, 85% of respondents said the right technology is critical to a work-from-anywhere scenario. Interestingly, this response did not have any variances across age groups.

An appealing hybrid workspace will need to provide all employees secure, continuous access to the tools and applications they want to use. Organizations will need to invest in easy-to-use technology that allows employees to fully participate in work situations at home, in the office or on the move.

Hosted virtual desktops allow users to access the same desktop environment as in the office from any connected device.

Orange Business helped to keep the UK’s National Health Service’s community care up and running during the pandemic by providing a “virtual surgery” solution based on a VMware virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), for example. The solution enables medical practitioners to work remotely while adhering to the NHS’s stringent security policies.

Organizations making an early commitment to hybrid working need to keep pace with the demands of their workforces. This is where we believe device-as-a-service (DaaS) comes in.

DaaS provides major benefits, including enhanced productivity and improved security through better device support and more flexible financing options. In other words, a “pay for what you use” model, which includes the virtual desktop, workplace portal and the device itself. All are able to flex on a 30-day notice period.

As hybrid working is still evolving, organizations need to monitor technology and processes and adopt the solutions and best practices that best suit their working methods. This is essentially a new approach to procuring, accessing and provisioning devices while meeting business requirements. It is a move away from long-term purchasing cycles and towards month-long leases coupled with enhanced sustainability ratings.

This is an appealing model for IT as it leaves the complexity of physical logistics with the supplier. The approach leaves IT free to focus on provisioning secure apps and services and supporting the needs of knowledge workers. From a user perspective, they receive the very latest devices and ones they want to use, not devices that have been handed down to them. This enhances the user experience and is a motivational boost.

DaaS doesn’t stop at the hardware. It is also about getting the right services and apps to the devices. This can be done through a customizable portal platform such as VMware Workspace ONE or Microsoft Intune, for example.

Cloud as a key pillar of the hybrid workspace

A cloud contact center is essential to support the hybrid work model. It will help you optimize operations and better adapt to new needs or unpredicted surges in contact by integrating new features as they are needed.

A multicloud ecosystem supports all the diverse employee and business needs you have. Within this ecosystem, you can have all the tools and solutions required to manage changing customer interactions effectively integrated under one roof. For example, if you are using Amazon Web Services (AWS), a multicloud approach ensures that whatever applications you give to your teams will work. It is essential, however, to work with the right partner who has the multicloud expertise and third-party ecosystem in place to deliver on this vision. Orange Business has the expertise and capabilities within multicloud managed services and is a premium partner of AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google.

Moving your contact center into the public cloud with contact center as a service (CCaaS) provides rapid deployment and scalability alongside reliability and security. This ensures business continuity, agility and innovation to ensure premium customer and employee experience.

Orange Business can manage this whole contact center environment, offering a sustained and secure foundation for CX service.

Successful hybrid working requires a culture shift

Despite all this talk of hybrid, most organizations are still working through the specifics of how to get the right mix of office and remote working. McKinsey says that only one in ten organizations have started to pilot and communicate their hybrid vision.

They will, however, have to radically rethink their cultures to get hybrid right, warns McKinsey. Hybrid working has many plus points, including flexibility, better work/life balance and savings on resources. But hybrid is complex and does require more planning.

A deeper cultural shift is also occurring as business leaders increasingly own the technology budget. The Wall Street Journal made the statement, “It’s Time to Get Rid of the IT Department” (Joe Peppard), as they saw budgets moving away from IT teams to business leaders at the front line of their enterprises.

Technology needs to become agile and flex with the changing nature of business, what complexity theory leaders call “the dancing landscapes,” as requirements adjust to market pressures and competitors move.

To meet this need, Orange has created a consumption-based model that includes the cloud-hosted desktop, workplace portal and device, all on a 30-day payment term.

Grasp an exciting opportunity

Now is the time for leaders to get it right. Think “virtual first,” and encourage employees to be an integral part of the process to achieve desired business outcomes within a hybrid-working model. And finally, don’t be afraid to adjust technologies and policies based on what is working well as the program moves forward.

To learn more about how Orange Business can help you keep pace with digital workplace transformation, click here.

Jan Howells

Jan has been writing about technology for over 22 years for magazines and web sites, including ComputerActive, IQ magazine and Signum. She has been a business correspondent on ComputerWorld in Sydney and covered the channel for Ziff-Davis in New York.