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How to Operate the Hybrid Work Force of Today

June 30, 2022

By Bill Yates, Communications Correspondent

Hybrid work operations are now the norm. The COVID-19 pandemic forced companies to move to hybrid faster than they had expected. Now, three years later, growing pains are evident.

“We short-cut years of technology advancements into weeks and months,” Brian Crotty, CEO at Fusion Connect, told attendees at ITEXPO 2022.

His presentation, “Manage, Enable and Secure Your Business in the New Hybrid Work Environment,” focused on the technological issues companies face post-COVID-19.

For example, “a couple of years later, you still see a lot of tangled tech stacks,” he said. Another challenge is the implementation of the now-permanent hybrid workforce.

After COVID-19 eased, few workers desired a return to the office. According to Crotty, only 32% of workers said they welcomed a post-COVID return to the office. Only 1% of leaders surveyed expected people to come back in the same numbers as before.

At Fusion Connect, only 3% of workers wanted to return to the office full time. Just 13% of Crotty’s staff was agreeable to a hybrid work schedule. They want to remain remote, he said.

“We identify as a virtual company,” Crotty says. “Ninety-nine percent of our employees are remote.” To effectively manage remote staff, you must:

  1. Communicate often. Crotty holds weekly Town Hall meetings, creates bi-weekly say-hey videos, and conducts monthly all-hands conference calls.
  2. “See the whites of their eyes.” Make employees unblock their cameras when they’re involved video conferences. Eye contact = Paying Attention.
  3. Track efficiency with respect. Be transparent with your tracking methods, Crotty says. Nobody likes to be tracked when they don’t know it.
  4. Prioritize employee mental health. “Not everyone likes working from home,” he says. Know that, and provide mental health options.

“Security needs to be part of the daily actions of your employees,” Crotty says. Three suggestions for implementing security measures in a hybrid environment include:

  1. Start with Zero Trust. Authenticate every user, every time. Limit access.
  2. Head to the cloud. Everyone’s doing it, so develop a cloud security policy.
  3. Build a security mindset. Constant education is the key, Crotty says.

In the case of Zero Trust, Crotty made the point that technology isn’t the issue. “It’s not a tech solution, it’s a cybersecurity methodology,” he said.

Crotty suggests that DIY tech-stack builders join forces with partners or advisors. Determine which core operations you’d like to retain, then decide which operations can be outsourced.

“They consistently underestimate the human cost of being able to operate their tech stacks,” he said.

But, the events of the past years should prepare companies for the future – whatever that future holds, expected or unexpected.

“Every three to five years, something major changes,” Crotty says. “With a decentralized, hybrid workforce, you can be ready for anything.”

Edited by Erik Linask



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