Organisations must design a seamless and sustainable hybrid or work-from-anywhere culture, achieve agility and scale, and extend IT governance and security to ensure businesses continuity and growth in the era of hybrid work.
When COVID-19 took hold, remote working became a full-blown reality within a matter of weeks, and the channel pivoted sharply to support its customers. But wholesale remote working won’t last forever, with businesses now recognising the benefits of a hybrid model, where people and technology flow seamlessly between offices, home and work-on-the-go.
Hybrid working is not a new concept, and the ‘connected office’ has long been a critical enabler of the modern distributed workforce. By 2018, for example, 15% of EU workers were able to work from home. But the dispersed workforce has been fast-tracked, with years of technological and cultural change occurring overnight.
In this model, the office will remain a critical resource for work and interaction, but it’s no longer seen as mandatory or even desirable by many employers or employees. More than 50% of US workers now want a mixture of home and office working, while UK employers expect the number of home workers to double from 18% pre-pandemic to 37% post-pandemic.
Next-generation experiences everywhere
Businesses now need to think what this hybrid experience is like – not just from a technology and environment perspective but in terms of leadership, change management and career-growth. Ideally it encompasses the best of both worlds: structure and sociability on one hand and independence and flexibility on the other.
The workplace of the past was about being present in a physical location. Tomorrow’s hybrid workplace is all about flexibility and blended in-person and remote collaboration. Physical spaces merge with virtual spaces, with technology enabling workers to be efficient and productive throughout their day. This takes intuitive software, a reliable platform and intelligent devices that enable effective collaboration and deliver data and insights to continuously improve workplace experiences.
This presents an opportunity for organisations to demonstrate agility, as successful businesses will be those that transform and redesign workplaces to create better experiences for employees, improve collaboration and productivity, and reduce costs. The channel must rise to this challenge to help customers transition with the right technology.
Organisations and end users will demand access to a wide range of solutions, often from separate vendors, and channel partners must adapt by building solution and service offerings that offer seamless integration across a wide range of vendors and extend the capabilities and options available from larger ‘one-stop’ vendors.
Connected and secure by design
This is more than simply providing a webcam and access to a video conferencing platform. Workplace solutions designed for hybrid work should eliminate common meeting frustrations, optimise spaces with agility and create more productive environments where everyone on the team, in-person or remote, has a first-class experience. They should include agile business models and operational flexibility, automated operations and contactless experiences, intuitive interfaces and self-service abilities.
The technology must also ensure greater security, manageability and control alongside this workflow continuity and user productivity. This means pandemic-ready network-security technology such as SD-WAN, SASE and Zero Trust Access to enable businesses to optimise and secure resources across all network elements, functionally extending the network edge.
Thriving, not just surviving
The hybrid-working model needs to be sustainable for it to be meaningful beyond the COVID-19 outbreak, and this is where IT decisions can mean the difference between surviving and thriving in 2021 and beyond. Providing hybrid workers with the right technology and ensuring a safe return to the office are essential to business continuity, but the organisations that emerge stronger in 2021 will be the ones that think strategically, with a long-term vision for the future of work.
Building the foundation for the hybrid workforce will ensure organisations are well placed to adapt and grow in the years to come. The channel has a critical role to play here in supporting with tailor-made business-critical solutions and services, and a robust and collaborative ecosystem has never been more important.
How we can help
We can help partners and end users transition to hybrid working with dedicated solutions, services and partner initiatives. Find out more on our remote working content hub.
If you’d like to learn more about the biggest changes impacting the channel in 2021, download our industry trends eBook.