Technology needs to be a key contribution to the growing distributed work force (DWF). See the blog Technologies Contribution to the Growing Distributed Work Force to learn more as to why it is so important. A hybrid model is built around the concept of having a remote workforce and a brick and mortar office. How you implement this hybrid is critical to building HR policies and technology requirements. For instance, do you require employees to be in the office a couple days a week, the option if they want a partial in office and remote (weekly or monthly), or is it one or the other? This implementation affects office space requirements, IT equipment, and HR policies.
Once leadership has decided to embrace the hybrid model and determined what “hybrid” looks for your company, the following must be reviewed to assist with building policies for DWF.
- Equipment Policy
- Technology required for Implementation
- Cyber Security
Equipment Policies – For companies that provide the IT equipment such as computer, monitors, and peripherals; how do you handle a hybrid solution? If the employee is 100% in office or remote, the simplest solution is to continue to provide the equipment for the employee. If the employee is remote, document all equipment that the employee was provided by the company. This should include IT equipment and any furniture or accessories. Such examples could be standing stations or office chairs. The documentation should include the following and be updated annually or at time of change to equipment:
- Serial Number
- Current replacement value
For hybrid policies that support in office and at home for individual employees, the above solution becomes more complex. Do you require the employee to bring the equipment in to the office on the days they work there? First determine how often they plan to be in the office as this will provide guidance on the best solution. The employee should not be required to bring their equipment back and forth as this is not efficient for the company or the employee. Instead, the company should determine how often the employees will be in office. For those working at least half the week in the office, they should still have dedicated desks, for all other employees, hot desks are the most economical and efficient way to operate. These desks will have all the monitors, and peripherals needed for the employee. The employee must simply bring their laptop/tablet to the office. These shared desks reduce equipment purchases and maintenance and is more efficient for the employee while still providing a downsizing option to the office space.
Technology Implementation – A hybrid solution requires employees be able to access their tools/files needed regardless of their physical location. If your office had all the files saved locally on computers or on a file share, switching to a cloud solution will increase productivity, provide better backup solutions, and be more economical. The cloud does not have to be the standard Office365 or Google Suite file shares, but this type of setup can be created in a private solution customized for your company if that is needed or preferred. Since the data is now geographically separated, it is critical to encrypt the data as it traverses the internet. Using tools such as virtual private networks (VPN) accomplish this at low dollar but is very scalable.
To keep productivity functioning at a high level while implementing a DWF solution, the employee must have the same resources available to them. All aspects must be reexamined to see a successful implementation to DWF. The following list identifies key areas to review when moving to a distributed workforce. Your company’s leadership team should work closely with your Chief Technology Officer (CTO) or with a third-party virtual CTO to properly implement all the following as a partial implementation will provide less effective results to the hybrid solution.
- Collaborative Tools – Chat, Video Conferencing, Team Chat, Messaging Board, Intranet
- Quality Webcam / Microphone
- Remote Phone Solution
- Data Backups
- Distributed Firewalls
- Virtual Private Network (VPN)
- Phishing Training
- Malware Protection
Cyber Security – Recent studies have shown that criminal cyber activity and their effectiveness is on the rise since the start of COVID-19. This should not be a surprise as companies have had to move to a remote workforce quickly instead of a well thought-out implementation. Employees are also less aware when working from home instead of in the office. As we move further away from COVID-19’s quick response, leadership should be putting a higher emphasis on focusing our attention to cyber security and proper implementation and increase our ability to combat these attacks. See the blog COVID-19: Cyber Awareness for best practices regarding training the employees in a remote environment. Your company’s CTO and Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) should be actively working to improve your security posture to include Risk Management Frameworks, identifying what data should be protected from ransomware, and conducting vulnerability tests. If your company doesn’t have a CTO or CISO, it is critical to work with a third-party company to provide you these resources as a recent survey showed 76% of small businesses were attacked in 2019.