After three years of experimenting with remote work models, businesses and employees appear to finally be striking a satisfying balance with hybrid work. Employers have been able to cut down on overhead costs by downsizing their office spaces to accommodate fewer on-site employees and staggered in-office schedules. Remote work has allowed businesses to reach top talent in other geographies, increasing diversity and capabilities throughout the workforce. Meanwhile, employees are saving time on commuting and finder greater work-life balance. Even business infrastructure is benefiting, with businesses upgrading legacy systems to accommodate hybrid models.
With so much value coming from new work models, it seems clear that hybrid work is here to stay. The question is, In what form? What is the best way for business leaders to balance the needs of the business with the needs of the employees? Yes, there have been advancements over the past three years, but is there still room for improvement?
The past few years have offered some insights. What sets the most successful hybrid work models apart is their shift from an office-centric to a human-centric approach to work.
What Is a “Human-Centric” Approach to Work?
At its most basic, a human-centric approach to work is one that prioritizes the employees rather than the office. But this a deceptively simple definition. The most successful hybrid work solutions are successful not because they allow employees to split their time between the office and remote locations; they’re successful because they focus on empowering employees rather than empowering the office.
This subtle shift helps business leaders to consider what’s really best for both the business and the employees because what’s good for the employees is likely going to be great for the business. Employees who feel supported in their roles are more likely to be engaged at work, leading to increased productivity and creativity. This might mean a modern office space where teams can meet for a few hours a day. It might also mean a stronger remote work capabilities to increase virtual collaboration. What’s important is that businesses invest in solutions that better serve the needs of the employees, rather than adopt new solutions and hope employees adapt. With a human-centric approach to hybrid work, business leaders consider what the employees need to be most effective and uses these considerations to guide the development of their working models.
How Human-Centric Drives Digital Transformation
Shifting focus from the office to the employees helps businesses move away from legacy systems in favor of more flexible cloud-based and as-a-service models. These kinds of enhancements allow businesses to offer more advanced capabilities to support remote work.
Cloud computing, for example, can increase accessibility for teams, paving the way for greater collaboration and stronger DevOps programs. As-a-service offerings can flex to accommodate changing demands – scaling with the company and its workforce, providing the latest software or infrastructure services while reducing costs and technical debt. In this way, a human-centric approach to work can actually accelerate digital transformation by identifying the technologies that will be most helpful and therefore most likely to be integrated quickly, used effectively, and to show quick returns on investments.
Consider cybersecurity, which is a growing concern for organizations. Remote work is risky for businesses because it extends the threat perimeter, exposing the business to new threats from private devices and public networks. At the same time, studies have shown that flexibility of a hybrid work model improves performance, making employees three times as likely to be high performers. A Gartner survey found that an organization would risk losing up to 39% of its workforce if it were to go back to an entirely onsite arrangement. The office-centric solution is clearly not the best options, so employers have had to find a way to provide the flexibility of remote work while maintaining the security of working onsite.
The human-centric approach directs organizations to upgrades in virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs, along with investments in more flexible security models like zero-trust and secure service edge (SEE) for browser-based web applications. These remote-friendly options also focus on building a more scalable infrastructure that the company can manage. Zero-trust security, for example, allows organizations to limit access to specific assets rather than specific physical locations, so security is maintained onsite and offsite. By combining zero-trust security and SSE with virtual desktop infrastructure, companies can provide more secure remote access to company applications and data from any device or platform.
There is no one best hybrid work model, and even the great ones will change over time to meet the changing needs of employees and the business. A human-centric approach to working models can help businesses stay ahead of the curve, illuminating new ways for technology to empower employees, wherever they choose to work.