Standards should not be dropped as we shift to hybrid working

remote working
(Image credit: Shutterstock / GaudiLab)

Workplace boundaries have expanded, and professionals now face the challenge of transforming any location into an office. Yet, a survey by YouGov revealed that 41% of employees have an ‘inappropriate’ working environment at home. As offices begin re-opening, we risk giving workers an ‘either-or’ proposition on workplace tools such as security, hardware repairs, ease of information and simple printing. From utilising cloud for collaboration between colleagues, through to implementing robust cybersecurity practices - moving forward we must ensure high quality robust remote working solutions.

Remote work technologies should empower your workforce to collaborate safely and securely. Research from the UK’s first lockdown found that 95% of workers see room for improvement in how their organizations handle documents. Poorly managed systems, slow VPN access and insufficient IT support all affect employee efficiency. Not only do inadequate home offices hinder worker morale, but they also impact the company’s bottom line.

About the author

Tony Wills is Country Director at Canon UK & Ireland

For hybrid cybersecurity, there is no silver bullet

It will come as no surprise that the most pressing and complex challenge of the hybrid working world is cybersecurity. Over 40% of businesses have experienced at least one cyberattack related to the pandemic in the last year, according to a Tenable report. A strong security system needs to incorporate potentially hundreds of devices and networks, requiring businesses to diversify how they keep critical data safe. Dispersed workforces mean that cybercriminals now see organizations as a series of individuals who are easier to attack than a single unit. A multifaceted armour, combining VPNs, a zero-trust architecture, updated antivirus software and tracking software is key.

But even the most robust systems will have lapses. Remote screen sharing and video calls have proven an invaluable solution for bringing the IT department closer to employees, but thoroughly insulating an employee’s device from harm runs deeper than just installing the correct software. Investing in cyber education workshops is vital to empower confident remote workers. True hybrid working means that the levels of support we have in the office are mirrored at home.

Greater flexibility and quality with cloud

For workers able to work from home, the cloud has been the backbone for remote work. Multicloud systems especially, spanning private and public, on-premise and off-premise, will be the infrastructure that unlocks the hybrid future with a one-size-fits-all approach becoming a model of the past. Embracing cloud’s anywhere operations and collaboration tools ensures that information is democratized - and teams can collaborate effectively using tools such as video conferencing, messaging, and shared drives. Cultivating a cloud ecosystem will bring employees closer, building efficient workflows and maintaining a strong company culture. These tools equalise employees irrespective of their location, meaning that the quality and quantity of work output remains consistent.

Freedom to print

Workflow and collaboration tools are critical, but it is also important not to neglect access to suitable hardware. Yet, a survey of 2,000 British office workers found that 38% of employees missed a printer the most whilst working remotely. Printers are critical for educators, lawyers, architects, and publishers and the list goes on. An easy-to-use device must be reliable, offer double-sided printing and be tablet and smartphone ready. But most crucially for hybrid work – it must be cloud ready. 

Cloud-enabled digital workflow solutions, allowing print to office from home, from home to home and print to/from anywhere, are essential. There are times where remote workers must print to a device at the office for others to collect for shipping. Requiring home users to dial the company VPN to reach an on-premises printer can disrupt efficient workflows. Equally, a cloud server is needed to trace all print jobs to keep data secure. People from outside of the organization should be restricted from the device by preventing access to the universal queue.

One digital roof

The pandemic has accelerated a future of flexible and hybrid working. To support this new way of life, IT systems must also evolve. Implemented correctly, digital transformation means better productivity, collaboration, and employee satisfaction. By investing now, businesses will enter the post-lockdown world with confidence and agility. This means ditching an ‘either-or’ proposition on IT standards. An insufficient domestic workspace undermines an employee’s capacity to reach their full potential. No matter where colleagues are working, a company should always sit under one equally robust digital roof.

Tony Wills is Country Director at Canon UK & Ireland.