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Hybrid work is not a fad

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Covid-19 has accelerated the process of transformation and dematerialization of work spaces. Even after the lockdown, in the phase of resumption of activities, the model that has established itself is that of a hybrid job, which seems destined to become an integral part of our near future.

To understand where we are and how the world and the way of work will transform, Reply conducted a research, in collaboration with PAC (Teknowlogy Group), aimed at exploring the new models of hybrid work, identifying their essential tools and studying their chance. Benefits emerge for both employees and companies. Some obstacles remain to be overcome, linked to collaboration, creativity and long-distance relationships, but technological innovations can come to the rescue. At the same time, companies will need a concrete commitment to promote the digital literacy of their employees.

What the workers want to keep

The workers themselves are pushing towards hybrid modes: a survey conducted by Dynata shows that almost half consider commuting longer than 30 minutes the least exciting factor for returning to work in the office. Greater flexibility and freedom are the other aspects identified as positive in the new way of working. All elements to be taken into consideration, redesigning the balance between days at home, trips and days in the office.

Hybrid Work model

“Companies are investing heavily in equipping the workforce with effective communication tools and in adopting” agile “work methods – underlines Filippo Rizzante, Reply CTO -, while at the same time reinforcing the security of their business systems and accelerating the migration to the cloud “. And these are precisely the pillars on which Reply’s research is based. Pillars which in turn rest on the foundations constituted by organizational development and human resources, a necessary root to build a resilient work model.

Productivity and automation

There is a clear need for companies to have to create new “workplace” concepts, in which traditional and virtual experiences must be able to coexist naturally (satellite offices, co-working spaces, hybrid options). Not only the place, but also the ways of working are destined to change. The workforce of the future will be the result of the combination of humans and virtual robots through Robotic Process Automation, which provides the possibility of adding hardware and software partners based on artificial intelligence to the workforce. AI is precisely the trait common to all enabling technologies which, as Rizzante explains, is “infused in software that simplify and make office work more efficient, but also at the basis of robots that are increasingly present in manufacturing and logistics. “.

Communication and collaboration

Perhaps one of the most painful notes, in the analysis of working away from the office, concerns the methods of interaction and collaboration between colleagues. Millions of workers around the world have suffered from the so-called “Zoom fatigue” [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoom_fatigue]. A screen is not enough to reduce the distance.

Enterprise Social Network

An answer can come from company social networks, which allow the reconstruction of social connections in a hybrid scenario, combining the playful dimension with the productive one. More generally, asynchronous and synchronous collaboration tools are needed, for sharing documents, not only for off-site employees, but also for colleagues who work in company spaces. Alongside the solutions proposed by big names such as Microsoft or Google, Reply has identified some new start-ups working on these issues. CoScreen allows multiple team members to share and edit specific app windows, without the need to share the entire screen; Miro is a digital whiteboard platform, which creates customizable software to help teams collaborate.

Security and infrastructure

Two out of five ICT managers mention data security as their main focus when considering digital transformation solutions, and one in four mention data privacy. With a higher degree of remote working, the risk surface of companies has grown considerably.

Safety

VPN, classic antivirus and antimalware are no longer enough. New technologies are becoming fundamental such as SASE (Secure Access Service Edge), an IT security solution that combines networks and network security functions “as a Service”; Zero trust networks, which are based on a prior verification of any device or user inside or outside their perimeters; Multi-Factor or passwordless authentication (for example, via biometrics or security token).

Employees have also started using their own devices to work remotely and this has put a strain on the accessibility and security of the company network. Using personal Internet of Things devices could further increase the risk. This entails the need to review ICT policies and support systems.

The next step will be to invest in app and desktop virtualization for any device, using so-called digital workspaces supported by end-to-end solutions, so users can enjoy a uniform work experience across all their devices and ICT departments get centralized security management. The basis on which to build this model is represented by the workers and the organizational structure of the work. On the one hand, it is important that human resources focus on the needs of employees, so as not to lose them, on the other hand cloud services and Artificial Intelligence help to find, manage and retain global talent.

Real-time data collection and analysis are essential for HR departments, they allow you to monitor, supervise and prepare staff, tracking productivity and performance. At the base, however, there must be a corporate culture of trust: the focus must be on monitoring performance and not on employees.

New roles more and less in demand

To face this challenge, technologies and skills are needed: “for this – concludes Rizzante – we have joined our technology experts with teams that accompany customers in the design of internal social networks and in improving the so-called” employee experience “and training of employees”. And this demand for skills translates into the need for new skills, resulting in a need for employers to facilitate the adaptation and preparation of their workforce for new roles within the near future of automated and technology-enhanced work.

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