By Vibhor Mishra
Jolted by COVID-19, the future of work mobility has arrived earlier than expected. We have proved that flexible work patterns can be successful, so creating permanent workspace mobility will be the next frontier. The persistent focus will be on creating an intelligent, agile digital workspace. The shift to hybrid work will highlight the importance of a personalized workspace for the user and proactively provide the specific resources needed for the task.
Working in a hybrid/ remote mode and interacting with such a team differs greatly from the usual way of working while everyone is in the office. It will inevitably require a change in the way we work, how we are monitored, the way work is assigned and tracked, and the way reviews are conducted. Virtual teams, in most cases, will be working from home. Therefore, flexibility with their work hours is significant. It is good to allow a certain degree of flexibility in managing virtual teams; otherwise, things will become erratic and challenging.
Transition to remote/ hybrid working indicates a new process, guideline, tool, or bigger structural changes. To make these changes in a virtual setting, one needs clear intentions, documentation, and a deeper understanding of the human psyche and what works best in current circumstances. Fear, lack of clarity, doubts, lack of psychological safety can wreak havoc in a virtual setting. Further, if the larger industry supports virtual working, attrition is a clear and present danger in such cases.
All other support and benefits employees get from the organisation include learning, team-building activities, team outings, appreciation days, awards, and recognition; updates should continue unhindered even in a hybrid/ virtual mode of working. These activities have a massive role in ensuring the employee morale remains high & positive. It is very easy to lose sight of these activities, given that we are not interacting with people in person.
Organisations need to use transparency, inspection, and adaptation (the core tenets of the Agile method) to enhance their working practices continuously. Also, leaders must follow meritocracy and keep open communication lines with their teams. Customers are a key part of this extended team; leaders need to align their practices and output with purpose, mission, and values to help them achieve their goals.
The future of secure remote work
The world now sees that employees can stay connected and productive while working away from the office for prolonged periods. It is likely that many businesses will move toward a hybrid work environment that caters to both in-office and remote employees. This offers employers and employees greater choice and flexibility from business and human capital perspectives and brings more diversity into the workforce. However, the abrupt shift to remote working has also created a series of cybersecurity challenges — keeping your business running in a very different environment or securing access at a greater scale than ever before. In hybrid working, people work from multiple locations, use multiple devices, and send data over public internet connections to company infrastructure, thereby allowing miscreants to steal sensitive information. This eventually increases the vulnerability to cyberattacks. Working remotely often requires additional tools (e.g., VPN, RDP clients), and these increase vulnerabilities to phishing or malware attacks. Often, people are less cognizant of these risks in home settings, and the devices are less likely to be patched with the latest security fixes. Businesses need to create a safe, secure, and flexible hybrid work environment with high levels of protection.
Hybrid working model: The perfect storm is here
The hybrid working model has the power to reshape traditional perceptions of work and employees. Organisations now connect people and ideas with a fresh approach rather than the traditional 9-5 approach. Organisational leaders increasingly see the potential in this flexibility. It will provide a tremendous advantage to companies as, theoretically, the entire world is available for recruitment drives. This will enable businesses to take advantage of markets where talent competition is lower, define locations that companies would like to invest in, develop talent pools, hire in different locations, and truly adopt a ‘Follow-the-Sun’ service model.
From an employee perspective, it will allow them to work for the best companies in the world even if they are not present in these cities and towns. It will truly flatten the opportunity space, eliminate a significant barrier to employment, and enable the development of smaller towns and cities as satellite centers.
A hybrid working model will also reduce the load on a city’s infrastructure and the extent of IT job-related migration. The environmental, social, and economic benefits of this cannot be overstated. The hybrid model will allow companies to tap into the global prospective employee pool and put together the best talent in a truly distributed model.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent; it is the one most adaptable to change,” as Charles Darwin stated. The recent pandemic has revealed that humans are incredibly adaptable. The pace at which people have transformed their work and embraced new technologies has demonstrated that new future work is visibly achievable if executed with a clear purpose and leadership. Organisations will have to focus on five crucial actions: reflect, re-engage, recommit, rethink, and reboot. In conclusion, adapt to survive; the human race is enormously flexible but also risk-averse at the same time. Work out what holds you back and create a future of work that works for all.
(The author is Senior Vice President, Human Resources and Chief of Staff, Tavant. Views expressed are personal.)