With the COVID-19 pandemic upending life as we know it, employers and employees have had to quickly adapt to remote work to keep businesses running. Even after life goes back to normal (whenever that happens!), there is a considerable likelihood that many employees may prefer to work from their homes at least part of the time. This has interesting implications for work and businesses globally, with the term hybrid-work coming into greater use. But, what is hybrid work, and what long-term policies do you have to prepare as a business?
What Is Hybrid Work?
Hybrid work is a blended work model wherein some employees work from home while a few employees return to their workplace, or alternately, employees go to their workplace a few days in the week and work from home on the other working days. Companies such as Microsoft have incorporated such a hybrid work arrangement for their global workforce.
Hybrid work has benefits for employees and employers. Employees get the benefits of being able to avail a better work-life balance, get more time for friends and family, save on costs and time by not commuting to the office, to name just a few. Whereas, employers get higher employee job satisfaction, reduced levels of absenteeism, and can save on office space expenditure.
What Are the Implications of Hybrid Work to Businesses?
Hybrid work is very different from pure remote work or a completely on-site work model. A business has to keep in mind a lot of aspects to ensure business continuity and productivity.
Plan for the Future
With the COVID-19 pandemic still sweeping parts of the world, it is imperative that any steps towards ending remote work should be taken very carefully. Some things to keep in mind are:
- Companies need to evaluate if any specific roles need to be prioritized regarding employees returning to their workplace.
- Analyze if any employee needs to work remotely for the short term, either if they are vulnerable, have any health conditions of concern, or have responsibilities to care for their family members.
- Prepare a plan that can assess how social distancing can be maintained in offices for employees that return to their workplace.
- Ensure clear communication with employees on your plans for how and when they can return to their workplace.
Prepare a Long-Term Hybrid Working Policy
When developing a long term policy for hybrid working, your business needs to formulate the following:
- Set out which role type will be eligible for hybrid work
- Set down how an employee can request hybrid work.
- Clarify the roles and responsibilities that hybrid workers and their managers will have to carry out.
- Enumerate how hybrid work may intersect with other forms of flexible work.
- Review related policies like IT usage, data protection, IT security, and expenses.
How to Ensure a Secure Hybrid Workforce
To have a secure hybrid work arrangement, your business needs to manage your IT infrastructure securely and provide effective tools and resources to keep your company and employee data secure. Such tools are critical in ensuring that employees who work on their personal devices stay secure. Some steps to do this are as follows.
Use a Secure VPN
A virtual private network (VPN) is essential in securing communication channels between remote employees and the office. A VPN encrypts all user connection data and helps in minimizing security and data privacy concerns.
Use a Dedicated Outsourced IT Support Team
With remote and flexible work becoming the norm for the near to medium-term future, it may not be practical to have an on-site IT support team to look after your support needs. In such a scenario, you should consider USWired which specializes in providing IT services in San Diego. Doing so will help you get access to a dedicated 24x7x365 remote IT support team that will help you tackle any IT exigencies.
Develop a Culture of Security Throughout Your Workforce
Building robust security systems go a long way in developing a security culture in your workforce. Most importantly, you can minimize security risks among a remote workforce. As a business, you should provide regular security training, which can be conducted either in-person or virtually. Doing so will instill greater awareness about security throughout your workforce and help in enhancing overall privacy.