Business strategies for hybrid work technology

Person working from home on a laptop - hybrid working
(Image credit: M_Agency / Shutterstock)

Hybrid work is here to stay. More and more companies around the world are re-assessing the way they work and re-considering their entire operations, and many have confirmed that this new approach is one for the long-term. Cisco is one example, recently announcing that its entire workforce of 78,000 employees will remain hybrid.

About the author

Alex Cruz Farmer is Group Product Manager of End-user Experience at Cisco ThousandEyes.

This new reality for many businesses means powering a hybrid work technology stack that can keep employees connected and engaged from anywhere they choose to work. With workers now distributed, potentially even across different countries, IT management teams have had to transition from managing a select number of offices to a much larger number of ‘home offices’, each with varying factors around environment, hardware and connectivity, to name a few.

The benefits of hybrid work are plentiful, enabling employees to embrace work/life balance and the freedom and flexibility to find their own efficient ways of working. But in order to successfully manage their wellbeing and productivity, employees must be provided with the means to do their jobs effectively.

Cloud collaboration tools, business-critical apps and VPNs provide great opportunity, and are now a fundamental part of hybrid working. But as a result, IT teams are facing an increasingly complex tangled web of third party providers, bringing with it a number of IT blind spots. Yet, pinpointing a problem is like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack. A new world of hybrid working therefore requires a new approach to monitoring - one that includes intelligent visibility across the entire digital experience to identify, resolve and even prevent an issue, empowering organizations to ensure they are armed with the intelligence to navigate the opportunities and challenges they face.

The modern hybrid work tech stack

When employees came together in an office, IT teams were able to isolate and address issues within their own network and data centers. The move to hybrid work and a distributed workforce translates to an entirely different ball game: the cloud has become the new data center, the Internet the new enterprise network, and SaaS apps the new app stack.

According to IDC, 90% of enterprises will depend on a mix of on-premise private clouds and multiple public clouds by 2022. The migration to the cloud offers an array of critical new opportunities for businesses, but with that agility comes a loss of visibility as IT teams now rely on third-party providers and hosting services. As a result, IT teams risk losing key performance metrics.

As the connective tissue that ties it all together, the public Internet has become the backbone of the enterprise network - yet it wasn't built for that purpose, and it remains a mysterious black box. This means that organizations must understand the state of Internet health in order to keep on top of issues that might impact the delivery of employee digital services.

Furthermore, many employees are now using more workplace apps than ever before, which means that IT teams must field and support an increased number of SaaS apps that they neither own nor have any control over. All of this, while core to distributed collaboration and scalability in a hybrid work model, equates to increased reliance on third party providers and an increasingly complex ecosystem.

For IT managing this new hybrid network, teams are now faced with an enterprise tech stack without borders. In this new ecosystem, the nature of the Internet means that outages aren’t a matter of if, but when. And when they do occur, teams are often left wondering - has the issue come from within the network, or a device, or within the app itself? Could it be in any number of public or private clouds, or perhaps somewhere in that middle mile of Internet connectivity? Without visibility, for too many IT teams it’s impossible to say. And as they ponder the problem, valuable time, and business, is lost.

Distributed workforce, united intelligence

Businesses can successfully navigate this brave new hybrid world through next generation network monitoring and visibility - a key ingredient for the new technology stack. Outage events are inevitable, but by closing the visibility (and response) gap through monitoring, IT teams are empowered to spot issues, act swiftly and avoid potential needle-in-a-haystack issues.

It’s not only reactive visibility, however, that IT teams require in the new hybrid world. They must also have proactive foresight over the complex ecosystem on which their business depends. It is this end-to-end observability from a user’s device all the way through to the applications they’re using which brings control back to IT, allowing organizations to cover all the key capabilities across the digital supply chain, beginning with the user, end-to-end across the network, and into the cloud infrastructure.

The ever-changing nature of hybrid work means that businesses must explore modern networking tools and techniques to ensure their business is running smoothly. By monitoring all layers of the digital experience, from the application layer into the cloud infrastructure and down to the data center and devices, organizations can garner real-time, actionable intelligence of what is happening inside their own networks - and even those they don’t own or manage. Ultimately, this allows teams to recognize any issues, communicate through a common operational language and work as a distributed team to resolve problems.

Employee productivity fundamentally depends on the availability and usability of business-critical applications and collaboration tools. So, by proactively advancing their hybrid work strategies, businesses can empower their teams, secure their enterprise and transform their IT infrastructure - putting people first and making life easier for employees, customers, and business leaders alike.

Alex Cruz Farmer is Group Product Manager of End-user Experience at Cisco ThousandEyes, specializing in business strategy, troubleshooting commercial and technical problems, and building robust network architecture and solutions.