Mark Benson, CTO at Logicalis UK&I
The transformation of the global workforce accelerated in 2021, driven by the continued impact of the pandemic and pressures on businesses amid record talent shortages. As a result, business operations are having a moment, and organisations across the globe have been feeling the strain.
In 2022, businesses will continue to focus on a workforce transformation primarily driven by the rapid shift to a work-from-home (WFH) environment resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. PwC found that 79% of employees value the importance of flexible working to maintain a good work-life balance in the wake of the pandemic.
Employees can now centre their lives around life rather than the office – and organisations have now been given the job of moving operations online, ensuring staff can easily carry out their daily tasks wherever they are. However, this isn’t simply a case of directly transferring the office workplace online.
Employees need to be given the right tools and solutions to successfully carry out their everyday duties and collaborate with their colleagues remotely.
But where on earth do you start?
Well, if the shoe doesn’t fit…
COVID-19 has significantly impacted workers’ locations. 75% of the global workforce made changes or plans to change how or where they live, with that percentage even more significant (85%) among Generation Z.
As workforces choose between on-site, fully remote and hybrid workplace models, business leaders will look for new opportunities to increase employee visibility and better understand the needs of a dispersed workforce. However, many leaders often find that transforming their workforce isn’t as straightforward as initially thought.
This is because a workforce transformation needs to be tailored and targeted – there isn’t a ‘one-size fits all’ option. Every organisation is different, may that be in terms of people, services, or industry. Preferred working methods differ from employee to employee, making it more challenging to decide on solutions to implement.
Hybrid working is on a steady incline, showing it is here to stay. ONS data shows the proportion of hybrid workers has risen from 13% in February 2022 to 24% in May 2022. Staff want to be able to move freely between home and the office – they want to be able to grab their laptops and be able to get to work immediately.
Organisations also need to avoid simply recreating the office in a digital form as this often leaves employees with clumsy and uninspiring work environments. To foster connection in the absence of physical proximity, people data will shed insight into the ebbs and flows of engagement and performance, helping managers pull the right levers to support a high-performing remote or hybrid team.
Keeping employees safe
According to HP, 71% of employees access more company data, more frequently, from home than they did pre-pandemic. With staff working from home and company networks no longer just being accessed from offices, the attack surface has dramatically increased. Cybercriminals have more entry options than ever. The cyber security company, Check Point, found an increase in exploitation of remote access solutions, email thread hijacking, and vulnerable endpoints. The longer remote working is insecure, the more likely it becomes for a major cyber-attack to happen.
Home and public WIFI networks aren’t as secure as those found in office spaces. It’s more than likely employees aren’t aware of the risks they impose on their own organisations just by working from home. One of the most important defences is employees’ own diligence when working from home. However, 37% of organisations admit they haven’t educated their staff on how to avoid a security breach. Hackers scour for the easiest way in and with organisations having multiple remote employees, networks are freely accessible to cyber criminals.
It’s not an option for staff not to be educated on the simple things they can do to protect themselves against attack – especially with businesses handling employee, customer and partner data. Using secure VPNs when away from the office, keeping on top of software updates and being aware of phishing scams are all easy things that can level up security defences. Other things organisations can do themselves to avoid attacks are ensuring vulnerabilities are identified and quickly patched, stopping hackers from entering through weak points.
The importance of remote collaboration
Workforce transformation is closely related to collaboration and productivity gains in businesses and the public sector. The challenges brought on by the workplace transformation also impact the workforce in how, where and what tools they use to work and interact with their employers.
Collaboration is a vital part of any organisation. It’s what helps businesses to innovate and create their unique selling points. But, 20% of employees have said problems with collaboration are their biggest concern when working remotely. This presents a problem as research by PwC discovered that 78% of CEOs believe there is a permanent shift toward remote collaboration.
Racing to complete a transformation can leave businesses with clunky working atmospheres that must be adapted more than once, rather than having an innovative one from the get-go. But above all, organisations need to ensure their workplace is consistent no matter if an employee is working from home or HQ.
Data knowledge is power.
The needs of our workforce are evolving in tandem with technology. To better support and empower their workforce, business leaders are rooting their decision-making in data and leveraging those insights to better understand their employees’ needs and what drives their productivity. This increased visibility fosters a stronger sense of connection and paves the way for greater growth and innovation. Amid all this change, one common thread has only grown stronger.
A productive and connected workforce powers business growth.