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How to optimize your hybrid work environment

ARTICLE | March 10, 2023

Authored by RSM US LLP

Hybrid work combines remote and in-office work. Even before the pandemic, hybrid work was becoming a popular way for companies to save money, increase productivity and satisfy workers.

However, as companies implemented plans to transition back to the office when the pandemic seemed to be easing, hybrid work remained an attractive option. WFH Research found that almost 30% of full-time employees at companies surveyed are hybrid workers as of February 2023.

In addition, Bloomberg News reported that many organizations are rebranding hybrid work to take the emphasis away from returning to the office and stress the flexibility or agility of the model.

The main challenge of hybrid work is creating an environment for remote workers that allows them to have a reliable, interactive and face-to-face experience that is similar to on-site work. The right technology can help your company support connectivity, security and collaboration for an enhanced employee experience in a hybrid work environment.

Reliable connectivity

Employees are accustomed to working at a location where they have access to everything they need to do their jobs. With hybrid work, this is not always the case. Remote employees may be working from home or at a coffee shop, far from office printers, phones and conference rooms.

Companies need technology that allows remote workers to replicate the office environment at home through connectivity. Cloud network platforms, such as Cisco Meraki, extend the company headquarters to provide reliable connectivity for remote workers so that they have a satisfying user experience. Cloud network infrastructure can be right-sized for the hybrid work environment to handle the connectivity needs of workers as they change locations.

From a technical perspective, employees who work from home often have more difficulty getting help from IT when they have connectivity issues. ThousandEyes, a recent Cisco acquisition, is a tool that helps remote employees easily connect and diagnose issues so they can spend less time troubleshooting.

Security for remote work

As remote employees work from home, they can create security risks when they connect their devices to company networks and access applications. These risks are compounded by the fact that organizations are moving more applications to the cloud.

Companies need to find ways to maintain security for their remote employees and prevent them from contracting and spreading viruses through malware. Cisco security solutions enable companies with hybrid work environments to maintain a secure connection without a virtual private network or traditional firewall. Identity and access management can be achieved through multifactor authentication solutions, such as Cisco Duo. Single sign-on makes controlling access user-friendly for employees.

Cisco Umbrella provides visibility across the network into on-site and remote devices for protection against malware. For a consistent experience across devices and environments, Cisco SecureX seamlessly integrates Cisco’s security portfolio.

Support for business collaboration

The ability to collaborate as if they were in the office is probably the most important factor for remote workers in hybrid work environments. Employees are used to walking over to another worker to ask a question. Now, employees spend more time instant messaging each other. They may crave the face-to-face experience of working in the office.

Companies need the right technology to support collaboration and emulate the immediacy and human connection of working in the office. For example, Cisco WebEx allows remote and in-office workers to collaborate in a face-to-face fashion using video conferencing. Microsoft Teams provides ways to share documents and maintain version control.

These technologies enhance the employee experience by making workers feel part of the organization. A feeling of inclusion and belonging helps with retention because company culture is a critical element of what keeps people around.

Overcoming hybrid work challenges

Creating an ideal hybrid work environment can be more of a challenge for middle market companies than for larger or smaller businesses. RSM understands various hybrid work use cases and can implement the right solutions for middle market companies. As a Cisco Gold Partner, we have the certified experience needed to design hybrid work solutions for your company using leading solutions for connectivity, security and collaboration.

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This article was written by RSM US LLP and originally appeared on Mar 10, 2023.
2022 RSM US LLP. All rights reserved.

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