The global shift towards remote work three years ago has fundamentally transformed workforce expectations and priorities.
No longer content with working nine-to-five in an office cubicle every day, employees are demanding hybrid working environments and greater say over where, when, and how they work. Flexibility has become a core requirement for the modern worker – and a potential deal-breaker for prospective new talent.
However, current workplace offerings are falling short of elevated expectations. Research by Apogee reveals that almost two-thirds of IT directors (63%) lack confidence in their IT estate’s ability to fully support a hybrid workforce. Furthermore, 71% of organisations are not placing IT investment at the top of the priority list, causing their newly hybrid workforces to miss out on much-needed technologies and tools.
At a time of ongoing talent shortages and digital skills gaps, companies that fail to invest in the latest IT solutions risk driving away their most valuable asset – their employees.
Making collaboration work
Almost nine-in-ten organisations (89%) admit that their collaborative capabilities are lacking due to current IT limitations. For millennials and members of Gen-Z, these shortcomings are increasingly glaring. Accustomed to using frictionless technologies in their personal lives to communicate and share files, digital natives have come to apply these same expectations to the workplace. Seamless video calls are now a basic prerequisite for this new generation of talent. Accordingly, the top expectation among modern employees is effective collaboration with colleagues (38%), followed closely by flexible work arrangements (31%).
Inconsistent access to applications is another hybrid working challenge, with almost half (48%) of remote staff saying they lack access to the same solutions as office workers. As well as affecting business performance, this can frustrate existing employees and deter talented potential staff, who may have personal commitments that require flexible working. Therefore, any new digital collaboration platform needs to work efficiently and reliably across hybrid settings.
Organisations must therefore invest in video conferencing solutions that provide parity between office and remote workers. These investments should also consider the acoustics, quality of hardware, software setups, and other factors like room sizes. Managed collaboration solutions can be scaled to meet all these needs whilst requiring little technical expertise, giving employees access to technology that matches their expectations, speeds up meetings, facilitates rapid file sharing and enhances team efficiency.
More sustainable working practices
Collaborative hybrid working solutions also help to retain and attract staff by aligning with sustainable measures. Employees and prospective joiners are all too aware of their own role in contributing to a greener planet – and that of their organisation. By investing in a comprehensive strategy, businesses can ensure fewer cars are on the road for daily commutes, thereby decreasing each employee’s carbon footprint.
Organisations can also go a step further and invest in IT solutions that directly impact the environment. For example, the latest workplace technology platforms can automatically convert business paper footprints into trees, with replanting taking place in forests that most need it.
Businesses are also under growing pressure to tackle e-waste, one of the leading sources of hazardous chemical waste. Using refurbished devices is a great alternative to disposing of old equipment in landfill – and these solutions come with a complete service history to ensure the reliability and quality of the technology. This provides the same benefits as new solutions, but at a reduced cost. Incorporating a mix of these sustainable measures will help businesses meet environmental targets and contribute to ambitious net zero targets.
Securing the hybrid workplace
Under-investment in IT solutions can also pose significant security risks. With awareness rising of the need to protect personal data, any information stored on work systems needs to be secure across disparate devices. Revealingly, 25% of companies are concerned about the security challenges faced with remote and hybrid working, revealing crucial investment gaps as organisations undergo IT transformation.
Prospective employees are unlikely to be impressed by an organisation that fails to properly audit its IT estate. One-in-three businesses (29%) only audit their equipment between once a month and once every 4-6 months, leaving networks and devices vulnerable to evolving cyber-attacks or data breaches.
To prevent data theft, multi-function devices should be fitted with hard drive encryption and data erasing software. Pull printing (user authentication) can also be integrated so that documents are only printed when the user is physically present, which prevents sensitive information from being left exposed. To further meet workforce needs, effective training should be provided to ensure that all users understand and comply with data protection mandates. This will help encourage responsible behaviour and reassure all employees that the organisation takes data protection seriously.
Investing in the future
By failing to invest in the latest IT solutions, organisations are missing out on a host of opportunities in the modern workplace. Access to the right technology not only helps employees collaborate more efficiently, safely, and happily across hybrid environments, but also makes the organisation considerably more attractive to sought-after digital talent.
To successfully recruit and retain staff – and avoid a growing number of technology vacancies remaining unfilled – businesses must now prioritise investment in collaborative, sustainable, and secure IT solutions that meet the evolving demands of today’s workforce.
About the Author
Aurelio Maruggi is CEO at Apogee Corporation. Apogee is Europe’s largest multi-brand provider of managed workplace services, combining years of expertise and innovation to transform the way organisations operate. This unique approach provides clients with the perfect combination of print, document and IT services to create the perfect secure and flexible workplace. As an independent subsidiary of HP Inc. we have the advantage of being part of one of the world’s leading technology companies, however we are a free-thinking subsidiary and a multi-brand provider of Managed, Outsourced and IT Services.
Featured image: ©Monster Ztudio