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Francesca El Attrash-Ukaejiofo March 31 2022 3 min read

How Organizations Can Kickstart Plans for the New Hybrid Workplace

Prior to March 2020, the number of workers who were either exclusively remote or had the option to occasionally work from home was growing, but slowly. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Seemingly overnight, almost all employees that could work remotely were instructed to stay home to work for the foreseeable future. No matter what happens next, one thing is certain: we’re not going back to the work environment of early 2020.

Businesses that were already offering work-from-home capabilities and options prior to the pandemic are ahead of the curve, but all companies and organizations can benefit from formulating or revisiting their hybrid work plans.

Today, a well-designed hybrid workplace is a necessity regardless of where your organization is on the journey, from just starting to implement a formal solution to augmenting plans with new capabilities such as artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics.

With it, you’ll be able to attract and retain talent while building a workplace that’s well positioned to address the current crisis- and whatever comes next.

Here are four key steps to building that hybrid workplace of the future:

Step 1: Identify and Categorize Assets, Resources, Visions, and Goals

To develop the right plan and build an effective hybrid workplace solution, you must first understand the investments your organization has already made and determine how those assets and resources can be better utilized to support your hybrid workplace goals. This includes undertaking a detailed inventory of equipment, but then goes further to look at the organization’s people to understand how data is accessed, who is accessing it, and for what tasks.

It’s also important to identify your organization’s data processes and infrastructure needs. This will help clarify any necessary infrastructure changes in data centers or public cloud consumption to enable more efficient, or even new, processes. As part of this step, it’s critical to identify data sources, including whether data is structured or unstructured, and how it’s being used. Lastly, you need to understand the lifecycle of data and associated applications: which data must be kept for compliance or litigation and which can be deleted and when.

Step 2: Build a Plan for Both the Workforce of Today and Tomorrow

Once all assets and processes have been mapped, it’s time to get started on formulating a hybrid workplace plan of action. It’s important to think of this plan as two phases; one for the workforce and needs of today and one that will consider the next three to five years. These plans are interdependent however must be undertaken simultaneously. Longer-term organizational changes should be part of the three-to-five-year plan. Immediate needs will focus on changes that ensure the current safety and health of employees, while securing data as it’s accessed remotely.

Over time, as companies grow and add new technology, inefficiencies can develop and get locked in. With the evolution of processes occurring, now is a perfect time to evaluate older procedures to prevent retaining processes and procedures that don’t work and trying to build them into new systems. You should view this process as an opportunity to fix prior mistakes or gaps and implement needed change.

Step 3: Obtain Buy-In and Implement the Solution

As soon as your organization has a plan and the capital needed to implement a solution, there’s no time to waste. It’s important to ensure that the long-term goals of the business are not being interfered with by short-term infrastructure limitations. Plus, with current lead times and uncertainty, any hesitation could set you back and require revisiting prior steps. Yet, it’s critical that the plan is both rapidly and securely brought to market. Don’t sacrifice security for speed.

Once plans are created and leadership is fully bought-in, they must be communicated to the wider organization, both internally to HR and current and prospective employees as well as externally, to partners, contractors, and vendors.

Step 4: Validate, Monitor, and Pivot for Greatest Impact

Once your plan has been implemented, it can be tempting to adopt a “set it and forget it” mindset. That’s a mistake. Especially with the current pace of change, it’s important to continually validate and monitor your hybrid workplace plan, adjusting when and where needed. Elicit feedback on outcomes from workers, leadership, partners, contractors, and vendors, then pivot or scale when needed.

If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that this type of dynamic hybrid workplace plan is critical to stay in front of shifting news and events or, when that isn’t possible, to react quickly and with confidence.

Want to learn more? Check out our partner HPE or reach out to info@ironbow.com

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