Work from anywhere – provisioning the new hybrid business model
While stories abound on the many subjects relating to pandemic business conditions and the altered course of many working lives, the narrative has subtly changed in recent months.
First, we saw the fast pivot that many organisations made from normal, stable corporate settings to work-from-home environments. These transitions were underpinned with caution, too, of course, with so many unknown quantities at play and the overriding concern that the world economy would decline and lead to recession.
Accepting that stories often related to provisioning employees for their lockdown, the fast rollout of hardware and applications that would enable them to continue working from the safety of their own homes.
Across the world, it was a case of "we are going to trial a work-from-home model for the next two weeks, here is what you need," and since then, many people and companies have not looked back.
Following the initial stories on this change, the narrative swung towards the more fundamental aspects of work-from-home life. Security took centre stage, with pundits viewing vulnerable home networks as inherently risky places to be downloading sensitive information from enterprise cloud services.
Now, as organisations have shifted their mindset to view work-from-home as an ongoing and long-term situation, the narrative changes again.
With 75% of employees in Australia and New Zealand likely to negotiate for at least some percentage of their work to be performed from home in their next contract, organisations see this as a vast cultural shift — many accepting that the future of work looks significantly different.
As such, the focus now moves towards a work from anywhere (WFA) setup, with employees equipped to securely and seamlessly access files, documents, applications, workflows and communications tools from, literally, wherever they decide to work.
With modern connectivity, it is increasingly possible to take a laptop to the local park or café, set up a working space with neighbourhood friends, or work from the kitchen table.
Whereas the initial work from home movement was forced, it's here to stay in evolved capacities. As the hybrid part-office, part-WFA movement gathers force, it is now incumbent upon organisations to optimise the working environments of their employees no matter where they are and provide proper governance across all aspects of their working life.
Therefore, WFA technology needs to be properly governed by the organisation while providing access to all the applications that an employee would usually use in an office environment. Content services platforms can bridge the corporate environment and the WFA employee, offering fast, secure access to files and workflows.
Enterprise Search, another function of an end-to-end content services solution, can act as an umbrella search engine across the external web, internal assets such as intra-web and staff portals. Enterprise Search functionality provides deeper layers of content across the organisation, presenting it to employees in real-time regardless of where they are working.
Sharing files and workflows needs to be as secure as possible. Any file-sharing platform is a potential attack vector for cyber-criminals.
Many employees will have their own base-line subscriptions to file-sharing platforms and will often join one to receive specific files from an external source. This requires strong governance by the enterprise, with everyone using the same application deployed and governed by the organisation.
Not surprisingly, the quick shift to remote work had many organisations reconsidering their software deployment approach. In the post-pandemic world, the preference will be for cloud-first platforms to deliver applications on-demand, with security built-in at both ends of the transaction.
New work models should offer employees precisely the same experience no matter where they happen to be – at a park bench, or in a corporate boardroom. The organisation needs to focus on digitisation at the source, with strong governance coming from those few still in a central office environment – but this must be implemented with the needs of the WFA employee at its core.
What was once a departmental rollout of software has now become an enterprise-wide rollout, and must be actioned with care. All employees must be properly equipped to work in this next normal, with all content presented to them exactly as it was before the pandemic. Nothing less will enable the organisation to continue to sail at full steam ahead into the newly-created future of work.