Find out how to rejig old workplaces into a sustainable collaborative work culture that defies crises and keeps the lights on.

As economies inch towards the recovery phase of the pandemic, the success of surviving businesses will be inextricably tied to how they manage their hybrid workforce and maximize efficiency, collaboration and productivity.

Business leaders will also need to re-think the way they engage with co-workers, so everyone stays connected, focused and motivated.

According to Jeff Lee, HKBN JOS Singapore’s co-owner and Managing Director, four critical check points can help businesses to pivot their distributed hybrid workplaces sustainably.

Jeff Lee, Co-owner and Managing Director, HKBN JOS Singapore

1. Bridge the gap between on-site and remote teams

With the hybrid work arrangement, there is a real risk of siloes developing between remote and on-site teams, resulting in a disconnect between team and business goals. To overcome this, a two-pronged approach is required:

• Invest in technology that enables collaboration: Effective collaboration cannot happen if team members, both on-site and remote, cannot communicate well with one another. On top of helping teams remain in touch, the ubiquitous collaboration tools of today are invaluable assets that enable colleagues to work together on projects in real-time, helping the hybrid workforce maintain seamless connectivity to build a sense of teamwork even when physically distanced.

• Infuse the human touch in the way we engage employees digitally: As remote teams work offsite for extended periods of time, there is a chance they may feel socially isolated from the rest of the team. This can be addressed if organizations make a conscious effort to set up regular catchups via video conferencing and even create specific chat channels that are not work-focused.

2. Secure business continuity and success

Creating a secure environment with a hybrid workforce may sound challenging but there are certain steps organizations can take to realize this. A hybrid workforce would open up more access points to a business’s network, making endpoints more distributed and expansive. At the same time, there will be asymmetry between the levels of security between on-site and remote teams.

With human behaviour typically being the weakest link in the cybersecurity chain, the first step businesses must take is to educate and remind employees on the do’s and don’ts of remote working.

From a technical point of level, having multiple layers of security is the best defence against cyberattacks and these include:

  • Virtual Private Network or Virtual Desktop Infrastructure to create a secure, encrypted passage between remote workers and work data or applications
  • Newer forms of cybersecurity concepts including Cloud Access Security Brokers that sit between a business’s on-premises infrastructure and a cloud provider’s infrastructure, and Secure Access Service Edge, which combines WAN abilities with cloud-based security functions
  • Multi-Factor Authentication to make it difficult for unauthorized personnel to gain access
  • Data encryption so that data will be unreadable and useless in the event of a breach
  • Regardless of cybersecurity approach, businesses should also not overlook the importance of reliable data backup. In the event of a security breach, data backups will be critical to limit downtime and harden the organization’s defence against the threat of having those compromised data destroyed by cybercriminals.

3. Have a single version of the truth

The best-run businesses today are those that harness technology and embed it across the entire organization to amplify the outcomes of decisions made and actions taken for the hybrid workforce.

The key to achieving this is to extract the most out of data that is generated from this hybrid work arrangements. Modern digital platforms will have the capabilities to collect and analyze data from the various teams operating in different environments across the organization. This data can include operational data that pinpoints workforce bottlenecks, employee engagement patterns or collaboration challenges.

The rich insights from these data will help organizations resolve key issues related to their hybrid workforce, so both onsite and offsite teams can work together effectively.

To fully unlock the powerful insights that data offers, businesses must ensure data streams across different work teams are kept intact at all times and constantly connected back to a single location. It is only by doing so that businesses will be able to build strong business dashboards catered for the different departments before going on to make effective decisions.

4, Chart a new path to growth

The transition to a hybrid workforce will be filled with challenges, but if the various lines of businesses are aligned and transformed with purpose, I believe that the hybrid workforce will enhance productivity and teamwork to spur business growth.

While many organizations are cognizant of the hybridized future workforce, many find it a challenge to run and maintain an end-to-end IT strategy that supports this new normal.

In an ever-changing business environment, organizations can explore working with trusted technology partners to build a reliable and future-forward digital foundation, so they can focus on running their core business.

The pandemic has given business leaders a golden opportunity to step up to the challenge to lead by example, leveraging technology to deepen engagements with the workforce.

The future of work is hybrid, and organizations must act now to harness this to their advantage, offering a hybrid-work environment that will continue to attract digital-first talents.