Future focus: Turning your workplace into a hybrid hub

hybrid workplace

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Giving your employees the freedom and flexibility to choose how and where they work is a smart move. 

It contributes to a positive workplace culture by increasing autonomy and promoting productivity, trust, job satisfaction and loyalty, making it a critical weapon in the war for talent. It also lends your business operations more agility in the event of a future crisis. 

But a hybrid workplace model needs to be properly supported with the right tech to keep people engaged and productive. 

What is the office for now?

Since COVID-19 hit, the number of people working remotely has spiked dramatically and many employees have developed a taste for it. 

But that doesn’t make the physical workplace obsolete. As a McKinsey Global Institute report points out, some activities may actually be less effective when done remotely. This includes brainstorming sessions, negotiations, onboarding new employees, and critical business decisions. 

In other words, the office still has enormous value as somewhere workers can gather to collaborate, solve problems, engage in training and education, and build rapport in person. 

In a hybrid workplace model, the office is a culture centre and community hub, with a rotating cast of office workers who come and go as they need.

An in-the-room experience, wherever you are

With all this toing-and-froing, your employees need technology that empowers them to work, connect and collaborate from wherever they are, safely and efficiently, with frictionless ease.

For example, Cisco’s research shows that 98% of all meetings will have at least one remote participant going forward. Smart cameras help provide a much more inclusive, in-the-room experience by zooming in on the speaker’s face and putting remote workers on the big screen when they’re talking. 

Or you might reduce frustration and support workflow via audio capabilities that block out distracting background noises on workplace and personal devices. By focusing on the speaker’s voice, the sound is crisp and clear – especially useful when working from home with pets or kids, or on the road, where people can’t always guard against noise pollution. 

Wherever and however your employees choose to work, “it’s about making sure the workplace has the technology to ensure it’s a perfectly seamless experience,” says Julie Canepa, CIO of Cisco Australia and New Zealand. 

Find Cisco Designed networking, security and collaboration solutions that are easy to set up, manage, and expand with pricing models that make sense for your business. Now IT is simple, affordable, and flexible. And the office is anywhere you securely log in.

Tech that protects your team

Now that we’re going to be living with COVID-19, your team needs to feel that their safety is your top priority when they come into the workplace. 

Technological innovations can help here too, with voice-activated capabilities creating safer, touch-free environments in the office. Meanwhile, devices that monitor social-distancing requirements and air quality are a weight off everyone’s mind.

“We’re using Webex to monitor room density, as well as temperature, humidity and air quality, which is another feature that I think gives people confidence,” Canepa says. “So, when they come to the office, they know they’re safe, and they have control over some of these things.”

Every industry is evolving

Similarly to office-based business, non-office businesses have had to find new ways of operating during the pandemic. 

We’ve never used online retail more, and telemedicine is really taking off. There’s an increased focus on energy-saving, automation through the supply chain and of course hygiene, as workplaces in every sector strive to comply with COVID-safe practices.

Just like office-based businesses using the hybrid workplace model, non-office businesses need four things at the heart of their tech operations to thrive in the post-pandemic world, Canepa says. Those are: an enterprise-class network connection, seamlessly embedded security, collaboration tools, and data and analytics. 

From this foundation the possibilities are nearly endless – you can add sensors, POS machines and cameras, you can capture intelligent insights about your customers and workflow, and much more. 

Each of these possibilities brings with it potential benefits. For example, widening talent pools and customer bases, not just geographically, but from an inclusion and diversity perspective, thanks to tech that offers audio and visual aids, and language translation. 

Whether you’re an office-based workforce or not, with the right tech in place, you can do even more with your business. You can make your employees even happier, you can better service your customers, and you can be kind to the earth – and what’s more future-focused than that?

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