88% of Italian companies will maintain smart working and hybrid work forms, even after the end of the extension to June 30, decided by the government.
The data, which emerged from an Aidp (Italian Association for Personnel Management) research, confirm the accuracy of the analyzes carried out by sector experts in recent months. Smart, hybrid, and remote work will remain indispensable for all businesses, even in 2022 and beyond.
Here is a brief vademecum to enter the new era of work with serenity and take advantage of all its advantages.
Hybrid and smart work: the ideal solution for employees and companies
In recent weeks, the topic of smart working has become topical again due to the extension decided by the government and the increases in gas and fuel prices that make travel and travel more expensive.
Overlapping these momentary aspects is another unstoppable trend, widespread worldwide, and started well before the pandemic.
According to recent research by consulting firm McKinsey, 40% of workers worldwide have thought about changing jobs in the coming months to find a better work-life balance. A trend that is also confirmed by an IBM study: in 51% of cases, people who resign are looking for a better balance between private and working life.
One of the most frequent requests from employees is the possibility of working outside the office. The choices made for their collaborators by American giants such as Google, Facebook, and Salesforce also confirm that hybrid work – a mixture of face-to-face and remote work – will be increasingly practiced in the future.
Choosing to work from home 2-3 times a week, or meet in the office only if necessary, will become the new normal for most companies.
And in Italy? The Italian Association for Personnel Management research shows that 58% of the companies surveyed have difficulty in hiring or retaining employees if smart working is not guaranteed.
Do companies need to worry? Not really, given that the technologies underlying smart work also offer great benefits for entrepreneurs, managers, and IT managers.
Improving collaboration and reducing costs: the benefits for companies
The new forms of remote working are not just about making workplaces more attractive.
Technologies such as the Cloud, fixed-mobile convergence, and collaboration services (e.g., desktop sharing, videoconferencing, cloud storage) allow you to keep costs under control and improve the overall quality of work.
The secret of success in the era of hybrid work is being able to create efficient and secure remote offices wherever you decide to work. The measurable benefits, in the opinion of experts, are many:
- improvement of internal collaboration and with customers thanks to the adoption of cloud-based systems
- increased productivity thanks to efficient ICT services
- reduction of travel costs and energy consumption
- increase in staff satisfaction with positive effects also in the relationship with customers
- possibility to select personnel according to one’s needs, without geographical limits.
Digital transforms work
Before the emergency, it was considered normal for most companies to put the physical office at the center of the organization of work.
Digital technologies were overgrowing, but most companies had not yet adopted the right tools to systematically manage remote work and insert it into their organizational structures.
When the emergency started, the initial problems were evident, especially for those who did not have adequate technological and organizational tools available:
- difficulty accessing company files and tools
- home networks overloaded with bandwidth consumption
- unfamiliarity with tools and processes for remote collaboration
- concerns about corporate data and the protection of privacy
- the difficulty of managers in controlling the work of employees.
In companies that had already adopted the right technologies or were quick to adapt, smart working immediately brought more than positive results.
On the other hand, the technology to better manage a distributed workforce is the same that allows for supporting digital development.
The key point is right here.
The investments made to solve the problems that emerged in this historical phase will not have a momentary impact. Still, they will remain available to companies to improve their work also in the future.
The new office? It is hybrid and based on the Cloud.
The old centralized office will necessarily have to change to adapt to the new demands of the work.
The new workspaces will be flexible and increasingly resemble an evolved version of a remote office.
It is important to clarify that true “smart” work, that is intelligent, is not just remote work.
The Cloud has great potential: it fosters collaboration by making it less and less important for two people to be in the same room or thousands of kilometers away.
In this new era of hybrid work, new cloud-based collaboration technologies allow people to work at their best, wherever they are, in safety.
Here are some simple examples of how the Cloud can help businesses.
- Thanks to the Cloud PBXs, the fixed network company telephone extensions can also be used on smartphones, wherever you are, without the need for a fixed station or dedicated devices.
- emails, messages, appointments, and contacts are available in a synchronized and automatic way on all devices
- videoconferencing and desktop sharing services facilitate collaboration and reduce travel costs and project development times
- online storage allows you to store and update large amounts of data, making it accessible from anywhere to authorized persons
- Cloud backup and disaster recovery systems make it possible to guarantee business continuity, even in the event of failures or cyber attacks.
- Hardware and software can be “virtualized” on the Cloud with guaranteed performance and significant savings for purchase, maintenance, and energy supply.
Collaboration, flexibility, and resilience: the new frontier of telephony
The loss of centrality of the fixed station requires new ad hoc systems, such as the fixed-mobile convergence allowed by virtual switchboards.
These systems enhance availability because they allow users to use dedicated apps to manage fixed and mobile network calls from their smartphones.
In some cases, apps allow you to use WiFi networks to make and receive calls in offices and homes where the mobile network does not reach you.
Cloud telephony also simplifies the work of the technical departments.
Taking advantage of a virtual switchboard allows you to activate smart working with a few clicks and to scale the number of active users without difficulty.
These characteristics of flexibility and efficiency allow, for example, to easily move the workplace of entire key departments for the company, such as customer assistance services. In this way, people can also answer calls to the fixed office number from home without affecting productivity and quality of service.
Finally, virtual switchboards also bring great economic benefits, eliminating the costs associated with purchasing hardware and maintenance of physical equipment.
The smartphone as a pillar of hybrid work
Much of the hybrid office innovations revolve around smartphones.
The mobile phone can handle landline and mobile calls. But it also has other uses. A third of video meetings are now done via mobile devices. The smartphone is also used to browse, read emails, and access the corporate Cloud.
Carrying out all of these activities on an employee’s home phone can compromise efficiency and be a security risk.
Companies now have the possibility of providing high-performance smartphones with up-to-date software and reliable security systems.
To facilitate the work of IT departments, there are Mobile Device Management (MDM) systems that allow you to update company smartphones even remotely.
Using the latest generation mobile phone also allows you to utilize VoLTE. This technology enables high-definition calls and allows you to call and surf simultaneously at maximum speed in 4G.
Some operators also provide free SIM Management systems. These web applications allow you to activate or deactivate employee SIM cards. This can also be done remotely, without the need for physical media, thanks to the help of eSIM that can be shared via a simple QR Code.
Those who manage SIM cards can also create the most suitable consumption profiles for each user or group of users with maximum freedom and complete transparency. For example, by activating a pay-as-you-go SIM with pre-set thresholds intended for occasional collaborators. These SIMs produce no cost when not in use.
Protect data in remote offices
At the beginning of the emergency, the data security issue raised many concerns.
Many remote workers often use their personal devices for work, which may not have the same levels of protection from security threats.
Employees of a company who work outside the office may also connect via unsecured WiFi networks.
If you reflect carefully on these issues, an indisputable fact emerges. These dangers can also occur under normal conditions when a collaborator replies to a message after working hours or consults his messages from webmail accessible from any PC.
Therefore, every company should choose secure services and develop policies to protect data in every situation, not just when practicing hybrid work. Here are some useful tips:
- Choose safe tools. Videoconferencing, desktop sharing, and file sharing systems must be provided by structured suppliers that use secure Data Centers and be equipped with data protection systems (e.g., encryption)
- Use secure logins. Choose a professional VPN service that allows you to connect to corporate data securely, even if you use public WiFi or connect from your home PC
- Protect devices. Devices must be protected by always up-to-date antivirus systems and security software. We also recommend multi-factor authentication systems or systems that allow you to choose constantly updated quality passwords (e.g., tokens)
- Create a culture of safety. Employees of a company should be trained on cyber security and therefore be able to recognize, for example, phishing emails or other cyber threats. However, the most important and profitable investment is always in people.
The importance of connectivity and predictive maintenance
Cloud and digital cannot function without efficient and reliable internet connections.
To combine performance, security, and ease of use, it is always better to rely on providers with proprietary network infrastructures prepared to assist in real-time.
A vendor that delivers efficient services and offers quick assistance makes it easier for IT departments to manage a hybrid workforce.
Companies have long understood that connectivity is not a commodity but the “umbilical cord” that connects the company to the world and allows its growth.
For example, a professional-quality telecommunications network dedicated to businesses guarantees high performance even at peak times because it is not overloaded by the traffic volumes generated by consumer activities (video streaming, etc.).
Frequent use of cloud systems requires higher access bands, especially in uploads. Using cloud services provided by the same connectivity provider allows you to improve latency, packet loss, and stability performance. Expert technicians must constantly monitor an efficient business network, aided by advanced algorithms, which apply predictive maintenance to avoid slowdowns and failures.
If the company cannot provide professional connectivity to all employees, it can encourage remote work with other devices.
For example, by providing SIM cards with efficient data connections. It is also advisable to create separate WiFi networks
in the homes of collaborators, dedicated exclusively to work.
Technology and organization at the service of hybrid work
In hybrid work, technology must be put at the service of people.
This means providing efficient and easy-to-use work tools for everyone, fostering collaboration without creating slowdowns and frustrations.
Technology and work organization are allies that allow you to recreate an atmosphere of exchange and discussion with colleagues, similar to that found in the physical office.
What are the best practices for managing a hybrid workforce?
- Develop transparent organizational processes with shared goals that are easy to manage.
- Productivity should be measured by results achieved, not by the time it takes to do a job. People should always know what to do and should be able to distribute the workload according to their family or personal needs.
- Encourage people to plan their work to have breaks and can “disconnect” without compromising productivity and teamwork. Working in smart working does not mean working 24 hours a day but being able to manage productivity based on your characteristics and in compliance with the assigned projects.
- It helps people create a space for intelligent working that is orderly, safe, and equipped with the right tools (e.g., headphones, PCs, screens) to promote concentration and productivity.
- Make available to people different tools to communicate (chat, email, video calls, desktop sharing) to choose the one they prefer or the one that best suits their circumstances. Knowing the characteristics of each communication tool allows you to make the right choices and eliminate technical obstacles: therefore, do not underestimate training.
- Create opportunities for meetings, including virtual ones, to promote a sense of community, even when working from different places.
Also Read : Cloud Architecture: Public, Private, Hybrid