3 août 2022

Article
8 min

Hybrid Work Technology: Adapting to the New Reality

Understand the difference between hybrid work and remote work in Canada and how CDW can help you find the best hybrid working tools and solutions.

Expert CDW

Contenu
  • The Difference Between Hybrid Work and Remote Work

    The most significant difference between remote work and hybrid work is the need to provide for and accommodate working at home and in the office.

  • Managing Hybrid Work

    Thanks to the experiences of remote working, most organizations have developed strategies to manage the workforce remotely. However, you need to review policies to get your workforce ready for hybrid working.

  • Hybrid Work Policies

    It's crucial to develop a new set of policies and procedures for hybrid work. They should define who is eligible for hybrid work, when they need to be in the office and expectations for employees working remotely.

  • Mitigating the Difficulties of Hybrid Work

    A crucial aspect of hybrid work is implementing team software so they can communicate using instant messaging, voice and video calling. It's vital to manage impromptu meetings carefully and make sure you include relevant employees working from home.

  • Making Hybrid Working Seamless

    Rather than using an array of tools to facilitate hybrid working, a seamless solution is using an employee experience platform which allows easy team interaction.

  • Hybrid Working Tools

    As you move into the hybrid working era, this may be a good time to review legacy solutions and implement technology that facilitates hybrid work.

  • Hybrid-friendly Software

    Look for hybrid-friendly software, but bear in mind that changes need to be compatible with existing software solutions.

  • Internet Access

    While most Canadians have good internet access, it's important to consider bandwidth and data costs.

  • Hybrid-friendly Hardware

    Hybrid working arrangements mean that employees need to equip two offices: a home office and one at work. Although the requirements for each may differ, the ideal situation is for a home office to have the same functionality as the work office.

  • Finding the Best Hybrid Solutions

    When setting up a hybrid working environment, there's no one right solution. Every hybrid work solution is different, and the right answer depends on your current level of technology, the type of work performed and your hybrid workforce.

4 People sitting in a meeting talking to another person on a laptop.

For most of the COVID-19 pandemic, a significant portion of the workforce worked remotely from home. According to Statistics Canada's "Working from home in Canada" report issued in October 2021, approximately 27 percent of employees worked at home between June 2020 and August 2021. 

Employers and employees realized that working from home, for at least part of the time, has numerous advantages, although most also recognized the need for some time spent in the office. Arising from this experience, the concept of hybrid work developed where employees spend around two to three days in the office and work remotely for the remainder of the week. Hybrid work doesn't only refer to employees working from home; the concept also includes those who have the flexibility to work from anywhere that's convenient.  

The Difference Between Hybrid Work and Remote Work

The most significant difference between remote work and hybrid work is the need to provide for and accommodate working at home and in the office. This implies a broader strategy than remote working, where employees simply take their office equipment home with them.  

Questions to consider include:

  • Do you purchase additional office equipment or make it portable?
  • Do employees retain their workstation in the office or do they hot desk?
  • Is office time reserved only for group interactions, such as group and one-on-one meetings, or for all work activities?

The answers to these questions significantly impact how you arrange employee work schedules and provide remote tech equipment for employees working at home and in the office.  

Managing Hybrid Work

Thanks to the experiences of remote working, most organizations have developed strategies to manage the workforce remotely. However, you need to review policies to get your workforce ready for hybrid working. That can include carefully assessing what works and what doesn't, as well as developing ways to accommodate the videoconference and email overloads commonly experienced during the remote work era.

Hybrid Work Policies

It's crucial to develop a new set of policies and procedures for hybrid work. They should define who is eligible for hybrid work, when they need to be in the office and expectations for employees working remotely. Points to consider include how you're going to manage employees, core hours when they should be available for virtual meetings and the degree of flexibility employees have in determining working hours and office attendance.

Mitigating the Difficulties of Hybrid Work

If you want to create a cohesive workforce, it's crucial to manage individual and team expectations. Important aspects include time management and maintaining team interactions. A good way to manage employee time and location is with collaborative calendars. Each team member publishes their work schedule for the week ahead for all to see. This allows all team members to plan interactions and meetings. Most importantly, everyone knows where other team members are working.

A crucial aspect of hybrid work is implementing some form of team software so that individuals can communicate with each other easily using instant messaging, voice and video calling. It's vital to manage impromptu meetings carefully and make certain you include relevant employees working from home. This could be done by having a meeting venue with conferencing facilities or by getting each team member to join the impromptu meeting from their computers.

Making Hybrid Working Seamless

Rather than using an array of tools to facilitate hybrid working, a seamless solution is using an employee experience platform which allows easy team interaction. Useful features to look for include:

  • Message texte
  • Voice calling
  • Flexible video calling
  • Synchronous and asynchronous communication tools

Hybrid Working Tools

Remote working has highlighted the limitations of traditional legacy solutions such as:

  • Siloed software
  • On-premises software
  • Poor system integration

As you move into the hybrid working era, this may be a good time to review legacy solutions and implement technology that facilitates hybrid work. Many of the existing remote working technology solutions work equally well as hybrid work technology. Three key focus points include hybrid-friendly software, internet access and hardware.

Hybrid-friendly Software

Look for hybrid-friendly software, but bear in mind that changes need to be compatible with existing software solutions. Focus on business applications that integrate disparate corporate systems and provide a single, transparent view across systems. Also, weigh the pros and cons of staying with on-premise solutions, moving into the cloud or adopting hybrid cloud technology.

A significant benefit of cloud technology is its seamless connectivity from almost anywhere, which avoids the need for complex remote computer VPN networks. It allows you to set up simpler software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN). Another key consideration is beefing up your cybersecurity for remote access computers, especially if employees use their own devices. In these instances, you should consider zero-trust security systems, which improve security by requiring user and device authentication and authorization.

Unless you already have a team solution, consider communication and video conferencing solutions like Cisco Webex, Zoom®, Microsoft Teams® or other communication tools that help hybrid teams communicate and keep in touch with each other.

Internet Access

While most Canadians have good internet access, it's important to consider bandwidth and data costs. High-definition video conferencing uses significant amounts of data, and unless users have unlimited data plans, costs could be a limiting factor. This particularly applies to those using 4G data plans for remote work. Any hybrid work strategy must take these factors into account and either reimburse employees for costs incurred or, if appropriate, consider installing corporate routers for employees.

Hybrid-friendly Hardware

Hybrid working arrangements mean that employees need to equip two offices: a home office and one at work. Although the requirements for each may differ depending on the work performed, the ideal situation is for a home office to have the same functionality as the work office. Specific aspects to consider include:

  • Laptop: Laptops should have sufficient capabilities to perform the type of work required. Standard business laptops like the HP ProBook or Dell™ Latitude™ would suffice for most applications, while higher specification models like the Dell XPS™ and Microsoft® Surface™ Laptop Studio are better for content creation and graphic design. A second laptop charger simplifies charging.
  • USB-C® hub: Many laptops have relatively few ports, so USB-C hubs or docking stations are essential to connect peripherals such as external monitors, keyboards and storage devices.
  • External monitor: If employees work with multiple tabs and applications, an external monitor increases workspace. Additionally, the larger screen makes it easier to read documents and process spreadsheets. Factors to consider include definition, size and viewing angle.
  • Multifunction printer: Although a paperless office is ideal, in practical terms hybrid employees generally need printers. Instead of a plain printer, consider a multifunction printer as it provides additional home office-friendly capabilities such as scanning, copying and faxing.
  • Webcam and headsets: If your employees frequently participate in video conferences, they require a good HD webcam that offers better picture quality than built-in laptop webcams. Additionally, a good-quality stereo headset allows them to participate fully in the conversation by canceling unwanted noise and improving sound quality.
  • Accessories: Other accessories they may need include a travel bag and cables, plus an external keyboard and mouse.  

Finding the Best Hybrid Solutions

When setting up a hybrid working environment, there's no one right solution. Every hybrid work solution is different, and the right answer depends on your current level of technology, the type of work performed and your hybrid workforce. At CDW, we have long-term experience with orchestrating the right remote working technology. Our experienced work-from-home experts are ready to help you transition to the new normal of hybrid work technology smoothly.