How to inspire and empower your remote or hybrid workforce

Four experts explain to Information Age how organisations can inspire and empower your remote or hybrid workforce in the new normal.

The traditional working model has changed due to the pandemic. Remote working will continue and businesses, like HSBC and countless others, will adopt a less formal, hybrid working model.

Over the last year, organisation’s have experienced how to empower their remote workforce. However, juggling a hybrid workforce will come with a new set of challenges.

As businesses prepare for the return of their employees, four experts explain to Information Age how to continue to inspire and empower a remote or hybrid workforce.

1. Consistent network and security policies

James McInroe, marketing director at Nokia’s Nuage Networks, believes that the key in supporting the ‘new normal’ environment, whether that is hybrid or remote, is getting consistent network and security policies in place that mimic the secure environment of the branch office.

He says: “Many enterprises are considering extending the managed SD-WAN service that powers their traditional business locations into the employees’ home. This allows them to treat the home worker like an office worker, with an identical set of information security and network access permissions.

“The remote [or hybrid] worker becomes a ‘branch-of-one’ on the enterprise network allowing the IT team to deliver a consistent level of business application access and security regardless of the employees’ location.”

2. Intelligent automation

David Marshall, regional lead for EMEA at Intradiem, suggests that technology, and specifically intelligent automation, will assist in the successful transition to a remote or hybrid workforce.

He explains: “Intelligent automation helps maintain the connection, camaraderie and shared culture staff members need to stay engaged when working remotely [or in a hybrid manner].

“The technology can also remove the burden of people having to complete manual, repetitive tasks, empowering workforces to dedicate more time to customer service, and to their development through training and coaching sessions, so they can carry out their job more effectively while working remotely. This helps maintain the vital connection between staff and supervisors, even when they don’t share an office.”

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3. Files in the cloud

Aron Brand, CTO at CTERA, says that for a productive remote or hybrid workforce, users should experience the same performance whether they are at home, in the office or in another shared workspace.

“Enterprises need a way to extend corporate file systems to remote users with LAN-speed performance while respecting corporate security policies,” he says.

Brand continues: “Enterprise IT strategies are focusing on leveraging the cloud to “remotify” IT operations. Files should be stored in the cloud and made available to remote locations using caching and other tools that connect the edge (for example, remote offices and home users) to the private or public cloud. This type of architecture will enable users to work from any location with an “office-like” experience.”

4. The modern digital workspace

Kevin Turner, digital workplace strategy lead EMEA at Unisys, agrees with Brand that the most effective remote worker has full access to all applications, data, systems and beyond, from any device or location at any time.

He says: “Enterprises need to factor all of these technical, security, policy and governance requirements into the design for their modern digital workplace — which will result in high end user experience (EUX) and a highly effective workforce. Empowerment of the workforce is not purely technical, as there is nothing obvious about the changes in design or configuration for enterprise users conditioned to being in fixed locations between 8am and 6pm, so communication of the changes is vital, together with organisational change management (OCM).”

But, Turner also advises organisations that “instead of trying to figure out how to deliver all or every service on any device, any time, anywhere, the best experience is going to come from figuring out what each role really needs and when — so businesses can deliver the right experience on the right device for that time and place.

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...