How to prepare your company for the hybrid work era

The great work from home experiment of 2020 has proved that work can be done — and done well — even outside the confines of a physical office. As such, many companies are now planning to adopt a hybrid work model post-pandemic to accommodate the expectations of employees and to continue reaping the benefits of remote work.

If you’re thinking about making the shift yourself, make sure you’re fully prepared to take on hybrid work’s unique challenges. Here are a few tips to get you started.

Set some ground rules

Hybrid work setups make achieving good organizational alignment more difficult than ever before. The lack of in-person interaction, a hallmark of hybrid work environments, makes it difficult for employers and employees to stay on the same page and work toward achieving their organization’s objectives. This could lead to decreased productivity and quality of work, which can significantly impact a business’s bottom line.

You can easily avoid this misalignment and any issues that stem from it by having a solid hybrid work policy in place. Your policy should outline rules on attendance and working hours, expectations regarding deadlines and deliverables, and standards for communication and collaboration.

In developing your company’s policy, be as specific as possible — a clearly defined policy will give your employees structure and help them stay focused and on task, ensuring everything runs smoothly. At the same time, it should provide employees with some degree of flexibility. For instance, you can give them the option to set their own schedule as long as they meet deadlines, take part in meetings and other team activities, and produce high-quality work.

Stay connected through technology

Having the right communication tools will allow your teams, wherever they may be working, to participate in meetings. This necessitates using video conferencing software such as Microsoft Teams or Google Meet and setting up all meeting rooms in your office for video conferencing. To carry out a productive meeting, install necessary equipment such as computers, cameras, microphones, and speakers. You must also ensure that your company’s internet connection is fast and reliable enough to handle multiple virtual meetings taking place simultaneously.

In addition to a video conferencing platform, tools such as messaging apps, enterprise social networking services, and collaboration software will streamline communication among your distributed workforce. In particular, productivity suites such as Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace include a wide array of apps that will enable your employees to share documents and resources with one another and get work done. To illustrate, Microsoft Word Online and Google Docs allow users in different locations to edit the same file synchronously and hold in-app conversations with one another, enabling smooth, efficient collaboration among colleagues.

And as communication and collaboration tools provide avenues for sharing information, they also help you get rid of information silos, and thus promote a culture of transparency and openness within your organization.

Related reading: What are information silos and why should you break them?

Boost your organization’s cybersecurity

To better protect your systems and data against the cybersecurity risks in a hybrid work environment, put these tips into practice:

Deploy an enterprise-grade virtual private network (VPN) for remote workers. A VPN masks a user’s IP address and hides their geographical location, and encrypts all traffic on your company’s network.

Related reading: Here’s why you need a VPN and how to choose one

Implement multifactor authentication (MFA). MFA adds an extra layer of security by requiring users to provide a one-time SMS code or a fingerprint scan on top of a password before they can log in to your business’s systems. This helps ensure that even if cybercriminals get a hold of a user’s login credentials, they won’t be able to access your systems if they can’t provide the other authentication requirements.

Address email security issues. According to Trend Micro, 2020 saw a significant increase in high-risk email threats — up by 32% from 2019. This makes securing your company’s email service and every user inbox of paramount importance. You can do this by encrypting emails, enabling email filtering, and deploying anti-malware technologies to monitor email servers and services. You should also provide your staff with ongoing training to raise their awareness of phishing and other email-borne attacks.

Use a unified endpoint management (UEM) solution. With a UEM solution in place, your IT team can monitor and manage all endpoint devices connected to the company network from a centralized dashboard. They can identify and respond to threats, wipe data from lost or stolen devices, and deny access to devices with security issues (e.g., jailbroken smartphones or tablets). Also, they can remotely install security patches company-wide, ensuring your employees’ devices are always protected, regardless of where they’re working.

Let Cutting Edge be your partner in preparing your Orlando business for hybrid work. We’ll assess your needs and requirements, then recommend the best solutions to ensure a seamless transition and a smooth experience for you and your team. Get in touch with us today.

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