The rise of digital platforms has radically transformed the way we work, opening challenges and opportunities alike. Today, thanks in part to technological innovation and the expectations that come with it, only 13% of employees are happy to work exclusively in the office. 

Despite this, many employees don’t want to work entirely from home due to fears of social isolation and difficulties maintaining a healthy work/life balance. 

Enter the age of hybrid work, where forward-thinking businesses seek to give employees the flexibility they need to be their best. While that’s an admirable goal, it’s not without significant challenges in service availability and information security. Deploying the wrong technology can slow people down and fail to meet evolving employee expectations.

More than ever, employees are deciding where they work and stay based on the technology they use to perform their roles efficiently. In this blog, we reflect on a recent customer discussion panel to explore some key takeaways from our clients and their journeys to facilitate a modern digital employee experience. 

Delivering consistent professional services

One of the biggest challenges organisations have faced in two years of pandemic-induced lockdowns is delivering consistent professional services. The education sector was one of the most vivid examples shared by one panellists - a leader at an academic institution. Our client spoke of how student and employee expectations have evolved in the past two years. 

During the first year of the pandemic, people were generally more forgiving and understanding of the inevitable disruptions. However, as soon as we started returning to the office, expectations had increased, with demands of a smooth transition into hybrid work environments.

Hybrid work introduces the unique challenge of delivering consistent services, no matter where people work or which devices they use. This inevitably requires a cultural change, enabled and empowered by seamless technology solutions. When lockdowns were first introduced, people quickly created their own working environments using their own devices in their homes. 

Now, returning to the office, whether part-time or full-time, many find outdated and inflexible technology detrimental to the employee experience. According to the panel’s moderator, one of the primary challenges in facilitating the Everywhere Workplace is allowing for adaptability and flexibility when everyone has a different experience.

Creating secure hybrid work experiences

The panellists agreed the pandemic handed over much of the power to employees, who now almost invariably expect more flexible work arrangements. Many businesses have responded to this challenge by broadening their BYOD policies. 

However, this also introduces new concerns regarding IT security, asset visibility, and service delivery. Organisations have been striving to mobilise by increasing their investment in cloud resources and, sometimes, issuing hardware so they can retain control over company policies about information security.

More than ever, companies must strike a balance that involves making the right IT investments to encourage people to return to the office while empowering hybrid workforces. They need to do so without adding operational risk. 

Thus, security is a significant focus, with promising solutions including multifactor authentication and secure virtual desktop infrastructures (VDIs) that operate in complete logical isolation from employee-owned devices. 

BYOD has been described as the ‘Wild West’ of information security. While it’s an open environment, as intended, it also needs to be secure. Without visibility into the assets themselves, and the delivery of critical services, optimising and securing such an environment is impossible. Policy alone can only go so far.

At the same time, organisations need to reduce their technical footprints by keeping the number of workplace apps as low as reasonably possible to ease attack surfaces and maintain high productivity.

Addressing employee concerns with enhanced support

When leveraging technology to facilitate hybrid work, it’s essential to implement solutions that address employee concerns, not just business ones. Leaders need to look at how they deliver their services and provide the technical support necessary to ease stress and improve employee retention. 

For example, no employee wants to have to wait for a whole day for a forgotten password to be reset so they can get on with their jobs. Because of this, a self-service helpdesk, which offers a consistent experience both in the office and remotely, has become a must-have. 

At the same time, the higher degree of automation that comes with using self-service chatbots to assist in routine issues can significantly reduce the workload on IT support teams.

Real-time data-driven insights into performance and availability are essential for speeding up resolution times and enabling the continuous improvement of service delivery. That’s one of the keyways businesses retain employees in the Everywhere Workplace. 

To give an example from one of our panellists, by implementing a means to obtain real-time insights from wireless network usage across campus, they were better equipped to deliver support services based on where and how end users consume those services.

Of course, supporting employees isn’t just about technical support but also about preserving corporate culture and collaboration when people can work from anywhere. One of our clients also implemented a simple but highly effective change as an availability tool that allows employees to see who’s in the office and who’s working from home.

The unavoidable future of employee experience

This shift in corporate culture is permanent. The digital employee experience is now the new employee experience and depends on an individualised approach. Sweeping policies aren’t going to work, hence the need for real-time insights into how each employee works. After all, some of us work better from home, while others are more productive and happier in the office.

Thus, it’s important to trust your team and give them the tools they need to work effectively. As for governance, it’s less about what you allow and don’t allow and more about the focussed commissioning of assets and services based on individual roles.

Still curious? Read more about this topic on our blog.