By Matt Weston, Managing Director, Vantage 365
It is sometimes easy to forget that, for such a long time prior to the events of 2020, the norm for most workers was spending five days a week in the office.
For many employees, the thought of one day being allowed to do their jobs from home – thereby cutting out the expense and time spent on commuting – was inconceivable. However, the great ‘work from home’ experiment that the pandemic forced has shifted the model dramatically, with hybrid working now a reality for thousands of businesses across the UK.
It is not difficult to see why so many organisations have decided to retain hybrid working on a permanent basis. According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development [CIPD], the number of employees reporting an increase in productivity since adopting hybrid working rose from 33% in December 2020 to 41% in November 2021. As such, it is clear that giving workers the freedom to choose when, where, and how they work can have a significant impact on their engagement, wellbeing, and productivity.
But what has been the single biggest factor that has facilitated this surge in hybrid working? The answer: technology. Recognising how companies’ ways of working are evolving, technology providers have been focusing their efforts on enhancing their collaborative solutions, enabling an increasing number of businesses to embrace hybrid working as a viable, long-term fixture of their working model.
Previously, there was a widely-held perception throughout the business world that meetings – whether held internally among teams, or externally with clients and customers – should take place in physical, face-to-face settings.
There are a number of reasons that are often given to support this belief. Firstly, many businesspeople argue that being able to see the whites of people’s eyes can be crucial when agreeing important deals with clients, suppliers, etc. Another is that, when brainstorming ideas, it is not possible to achieve the same level of synergy that you would in a traditional office setting if working remotely.
The emergence of video conferencing tools like Microsoft Teams, however, has meant that these arguments no longer carry the same weight that they once did. This is because technology has provided a seamless, easily accessible way for people to stay connected and engaged with colleagues and clients, regardless of where they are. As such, it no longer matters whether the entire team is present in the office, or if some members of staff are working from home – with Teams, everyone involved can have an equal experience of the meeting.
One of the biggest barriers to adopting hybrid working for many businesses is being able to guarantee that workers have all the tools that they need to do their jobs while working remotely. After all, moving to a hybrid working model is unlikely to be successful if employees are not able to carry out their tasks as effectively and efficiently from home as from the office.
Fortunately, solutions like Microsoft’s Cloud PC are helping organisations to overcome this obstacle. Such technology enables users to connect to a virtual desktop via the cloud, giving them the full Windows experience that they have come to expect from their office computer, regardless of which device they are using, and which location they are in.
What’s more, with administrators capable of establishing security policies for the network, businesses can rest assured that key data can be accessed safely by any approved devices, thus ensuring that workers have everything they need to do their jobs, irrespective of where they are.
Phone calls through Teams
For companies that are heavily reliant on efficient telephone systems to conduct their day-to-day business, a traditional phone system many not seem suitable for hybrid working. This is because transferring calls between an office and a worker’s home can be difficult, and could lead to a poor experience for customers. As such, bosses may be dissuaded from embracing such a model which, as alluded to earlier, could impact employee productivity and morale.
Using a cloud-based phone solution, however, such as Microsoft Teams Phone, will provide businesses with the seamless kind of telephone system that they require to make hybrid working possible. Teams Phone, which comes with a range of advanced features like call transfer, multilevel audio attendants, and call queues, enables employees to both communicate externally and collaborate internally, making and receiving calls directly from Teams through any of their devices, from anywhere, and at any time.
In moving their phone system to the cloud, organisations can enhance their communications with reliable and scalable Hosted VoIP and, in doing so, digitally transform their customer experience without ever missing another call.
Technology has a vital role to play
The shift towards hybrid working has marked a pivotal moment in the evolution of how the world views work. By implementing an effective hybrid work scheme, companies can enable their employees to be more productive than ever before, at the same time as enjoying a better work-life balance. Added to this, employers have the opportunity to reduce their office overheads and reduce their profitability at a time when budgets are stretched incredibly thinly by the cost-of-living crisis.
However, if these benefits are to be attainted, businesses must recognise the important part that technology has to play in supporting their adoption of hybrid working, paving the way for the highly productive and connected workplaces of the future.
Matt Weston is the Managing Director of Vantage 365, a Midlands-based technology company that specialises in providing vital IT support to businesses of all sizes when it is needed the most. He is recognised as a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional [MVP], and is certified as a Microsoft Certified Trainer, a Microsoft 365 Certified Enterprise Administrator Expert, and as a Microsoft Certified Power Platform developer.
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