IT workers have been our crutch and our saviour throughout the past two years. If it wasn’t for those that transitioned our businesses from the office to remote working, how many industries would still be operational today? How many companies would still be providing critical services? It has been a tough ride for our IT leaders, but it isn’t over just yet. While COVID brought about immense pressures, the ongoing burden of keeping the world ticking over is enough to overwhelm even our strongest team members.
According to CDW’s recent research, The Changing Nature of Work, more than half of IT leaders report feeling anxious (58%) and uncertain (51%) about the task of providing and maintaining the technology needed to support new ways of working. Unfortunately for them, this focus is not going away anytime soon as seven in ten say they are incorporating some degree of remote or hybrid approaches in their future of work strategies, with a minority expecting all employees to return to a physical workplace full-time.
The way work has shifted over the past two years demands a new approach. The impact of these changes on the modern workspace means we need to find new ways of thinking about work, from people’s cultural behaviour to technological solutions.
The changing office space
With remote technologies here to stay, the physical office must prioritise collaboration and help spark the creative magic that happens when you get a group of people together. But this needs to be done safely. People need some level of confidence that they're being protected, and that the technology is out there and doing its best job of looking after them.
Track and trace in an office environment can offer huge benefits for workers and organisations. This starts with thermal imaging which mean workers can be quickly scanned and flagged if they have an elevated temperature. These screening solutions can then be integrated into building access control systems, ensuring only those who have passed screening measures can access the workplace, reducing the risk for others and limiting the spread of the virus. Integrated into meeting room and desk-booking solutions, track and trace enables companies to see which employees interacted with each other and how.
Protecting against security risks
The pandemic forced many companies to change how their security was managed. Nearly two thirds (60%) of IT decision-makers feel that remote working has increased their vulnerability to cyberattacks and about half (53%) with a return-to-work strategy say these plans will make them more vulnerable. Clearly, the threat is not over yet. Security is an ongoing conversation and comprehensive assessments must be carried out so businesses can identify their needs and future threats.
With increased collaboration on unsanctioned third party tools like WhatsApp, Dropbox and Google comes increased risk of security violations as IT teams lose control of the user data. An additional concern is the rise in remote workers using personal devices for work. These are unlikely to have been provisioned properly and be set up as securely as a company-owned device.
Preparing for the return to work
The good news is that 88% of those who have a strategy for the future of work feel “very” or “somewhat” confident that their organisation is prepared to implement these plans. The key element for confidence is that plans are structured and have direction. An organisation doesn’t need to do too much at once, but it should have clear and achievable targets aligned with the business’ overall goals. Ultimately, businesses need to make sure they’re bringing in the technology that can make their hybrid working plan a reality and ensure they’re getting value as well as mitigating the risks of returning to the office.
According to CDW’s research, most organisations (94%) have increased their investment in technology to enable employees to work from home, despite most having already had a broad range of solutions in place pre-pandemic. Therefore, it is unsurprising that many (70%) expect to continue to use what they’ve put in place over the past 18 months and only 3% expect to use little of it. Working from home is likely to remain a staple of the future of work, but there is still so much value to be had in creating the spark that can only come from an office environment. Innovation comes from people just being in a room together, that atmosphere is almost impossible to recreate virtually, which leads to better solutions.
Technology in modern life is plug and play and, if it stops working, we lean on the experts. And while organisations are feeling optimistic about a return the office, they must still take vital steps to make certain the next transition is a smooth one. Helping the experts means having a digital strategy in place that aligns with the company’s objectives otherwise the deployment becomes an easy avenue for a waste of CAPEX and time. Having a clear idea of where you are going as a business enables IT leaders to define and implement core objectives and communicate this to employees. The right hybrid technologies will streamline the plan of attack and allow us to build an agile and secure future of work.
If you would like to learn more about CDW’s future of work solutions and how your company can prepare for the return to the workplace, please visit our page here.