As companies look towards a swift return to business amid increasing levels of global disruption and uncertainty, the version of hybrid work that emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t going anywhere; instead, it’s establishing itself as a cornerstone of the modern workplace. Many employees have simply grown accustomed to remote work and greatly value the flexibility it gives to adjust their work schedule according to their convenience.
But speed bumps still lie ahead. The perception of an increased security risk associated with hybrid and remote working remains a substantial hurdle for many organisations, when employees potentially use multiple devices (mostly not owned or directly controlled by the organisation) to connect to the office network, from anywhere, at any time.
Given the complexity of the post-COVID IT landscape as well as the effects of current skills shortages, how do IT leaders continue to drive innovation across enterprises? Our Foundry Influencer community of experts highlights four recommendations to overcome common challenges associated with hybrid working.
Finding the right fit for hybrid
One of the biggest challenges facing IT leaders today is in creating a workplace model that is the right size and shape to accommodate hybrid work while enhancing collaboration and innovation. A common approach is to rethink how teams work in today’s digital workplaces and deliver the critical factors that contribute to the digital employee experience, whether it is the freedom to work from personal devices or the ability to find and install the right apps needed for work.
Sridhar Iyengar, Managing Director of Zoho Europe, believes it’s important to offer employees easier access to tools that facilitate remote work. “Innovation can be stymied if the right methods and processes are not made available to employees to aid communication, collaboration, and productivity, wherever they are working.”
Nurturing the ideal hybrid workplace
This may seem ambitious, but it can be achieved with open communication and nurturing of trust, which in turn, can lead to improved productivity and more engaged and motivated employees through—among other things—hybrid working.
That said, this can feel like a delicate balancing act for many. Productivity and security standards must be met after all, but without disrupting the flexibility of employees to work where and when they want. As a result, some businesses may install software or systems to monitor productivity and security. But early experiences show that a haphazard approach can lead to an increase in employee turnover.
That’s why Kieran Gilmurray, Chief Executive Officer at Digital Automation and Robotics Limited, suggests that workplace policies should be in line with hybrid work and talent acquisition strategies.
“Global operations and developments demand different ways of working, which include remote and hybrid work, or working abroad. So, design your long-term business, technology, and talent strategies in sync. Only by doing so will you retain the best talent while delivering the best and most innovative business outcomes, regardless of location, time, or individual,” Gilmurray explains.
Fostering a hybrid team spirit
Retaining company culture but with a new hybrid working model is another priority, especially with teams that spend most of their working hours physically distanced from one another. According to Nicki Doble, Chief Transformation Officer at AIA Philippines, what keeps hybrid teams motivated is nurturing a culture that allows employees to experiment with problem-solving.
“Innovation is culture-based. You can have the brightest talent working from a fantastic office and you can still produce mediocre and expensive tech,” says Doble. “Look to your vision and create a safe-to-fail environment where people try new ideas. A skills gap could become your advantage because you have to solve a problem differently if you don’t have the talent on hand to go down the traditional route. The best thing is that innovative cultures tend to attract good talent.”
“Culture is key to driving self-learning, collaboration, innovation, and success.”SRIDHAR IYENGAR
Iyengar also adds that a healthy company culture can lead to greater organisational performance. “Culture is key to encouraging self-learning and sharing among teams, as well as driving innovation and success. This should be driven from the top down with an even greater focus on establishing hybrid working models to ensure a consistent approach, wherever employees are working.”
Encouraging cross-functional collaboration
To improve collaboration between teams and functions, businesses should implement organisation-wide initiatives that encourage positive relationships between departments. This is a sentiment that Aldo Ceccarelli, Chief Information Officer at SEDAMYL, stands by.
“In this age, does it make sense to talk about internal or external teams?”CECCARELLI, SEDAMYL
“I think the issue should be approached by changing the point of view: in the third millennium, does it make sense to talk about internal or external teams? Perhaps it is necessary to understand that in the modern world, mixed teams are needed to extend or expand know-how, that client-side cross-skills are needed to enable internal resources to follow and manage external resources; and that vendor-side cross-skills are needed to enable external resources to follow, document, and self-manage their tasks,” Ceccarelli explains.
Learning and development initiatives can also help cross-functional teams build technical skills and competencies. In lieu of in-person training sessions, this gives them the knowledge they need to better perform their roles, but also better align to new policies for hybrid working. “There are many things organisations can do to overcome complexity and skills shortages, such as developing bespoke training programs and on-the-job experiences to build robust know-how and expertise for specific roles in enterprises,” says Iyengar.
Investing in the development of his cross-functional teams is also crucial for Syed Hussain, who’s part of the board of directors at the Gaming Standards Association, and the Chief Information Officer of the Oregon Lottery. “We partnered with Deloitte and invested in education and training for our key talent, focusing on capabilities that drive our overall modernisation goals.”
Retaining talent with hybrid working models
Against the background of acute skill shortages, enterprises are in the midst of a ruthless hiring race today, with top talent in greater demand than ever before.
Michael Loggins, Global VP, IT of SMC, and Renu Upadhyay, VP, Product Marketing EUC of VMware dive into why viewing technology and culture as equally important is key to differentiating the organisation and attracting and retaining the best people to do their best work.
- Michael Loggins
- Renu Upadhyay
- Yadin Porter de León
Given the hyper-competitive market for talent, the ability to offer hybrid working as a key tenet of employment T&Cs is more than just a nice to have; it’s becoming a strategic necessity. That’s why the new hybrid ‘office’ needs to be primarily a collaborative space—both virtual and physical—that can keep employees engaged while supporting their flexible work needs.
“Technology has killed distance, which means talent acquisition and retention strategies need to consider every option available in order to maintain the best, most effective and yet most affordable workforce possible,” concludes Gilmurray. “Innovation no longer happens within 20 miles of your factory or workplace, or between the hours of 9 to 5, Monday to Friday.”