Cautious IT managers have long been warning senior leaders they need to be better prepared for a worst-case scenario. Whether talking about the need for cybersecurity investment, scalable cloud storage, or reliable backup and recovery, there has always been a need to prepare for the unexpected.

Yet few would have predicted a scenario in which our entire workforce needed to work remotely for a matter of weeks and months. Although COVID-19 restrictions are easing in New Zealand and Australia, it seems there’s no putting the genie back in the bottle when it comes to our remote workforce.

There will always be a proportion of people who are chomping at the bit to get back into the office. After all, it’s where real conversations can lead to valuable ideas. At the same time, 80 per cent of workers already report they prefer jobs that offer flexible working, and 30 per cent of people say they value remote work options over holiday time. Many companies have recognised the benefits of allowing workers to continue working from home in a hybrid model.

The question is what are the new rules for connecting and empowering this hybrid work-from-anywhere (WFA) workforce? What types of technology, tools, and processes do we need to consider in this new environment?

Bringing the office home, and then back again

We’re better equipped to take our work home with us than we used to be. The rapid proliferation of mobile devices and laptops has allowed us to untether ourselves from physical desks, and, in theory, work from anywhere.

In reality, it’s not always a simple exercise to move back and forth between home and the office. One Norwegian study found that approximately 36 per cent of all jobs could feasibly be performed from home, but only a small proportion of those jobs currently can be due to technology and operational challenges.

At an individual level, organisations need to ask questions such as:

  • Does the worker have quiet space in their house to do their job productively?

  • Do they have appropriate furniture, such as a desk and ergonomically approved chair?

  • Do they have all the technology they need to easily connect their devices  and begin their job?

  • Does each employee have secure access to the applications and data they need?

The same questions need to be asked when each of these hybrid employees returns to the office. Are we making their life more difficult by expecting them to lug equipment back and forth? 

There is an archaic attitude that those who work from home are getting special treatment and that it’s up to them to make arrangements for themselves. However, organisations are mandated to provide a safe working environment for their employees wherever they work, so these are now crucial considerations.

Secure connections to real-time collaboration

Our ability to connect and transact with our customers is increasingly contingent on digital connections through networks and applications. Likewise, our workforce relies on secure and seamless access to the information and applications needed to remain productive while collaborating with colleagues in other locations.

That access cannot be at the expense of the security of our data. As hybrid employees move  between environments, they need to know the devices and applications they rely on have in-built proactive security features, otherwise these employees will now be the conduit that cyberattackers need to cause a serious data breach.

As an example, the HP EliteBook range of PCs are equipped with the most advanced in-built device security features, including:

  • HP Sure Sense: harnesses the power of deep-learning artificial intelligence (AI) to identify and quarantine never-before-seen attacks.

  • HP Sure Click: protects from websites and attachments with malware through hardware-enforced security.

  • HP Sure Start Gen5: firmware attacks can completely devastate your PC — stay protected with this self-healing basic input/output system (BIOS).

Coming to terms with a hybrid WFA workforce will take time for many New Zealand businesses, but it is a conversation that senior leaders can no longer ignore. This is why Datacom has been helping organisations throughout New Zealand to adapt to the events of 2020 and the new needs of a hybrid workforce. 

Through our partnership with HP we offer remote-first devices that allow your teams to move seamlessly and securely between each working environment. Contact us today to discuss the solutions your organisation needs for powering a hybrid workforce today and into the future.

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