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IT, IT, where are you?

Organizations, across the globe, irrespective of size, must build a forward-thinking plan that encompasses all things IT to succeed in what is now a hybrid and remote-first professional world.

"If you give people WFH equipment make sure you note it all down where it is n stuff, We didn’t," says Brilliant Cloud9251, on a Reddit thread, perfectly capturing the pains that IT folks face when it comes to managing hybrid and remote work.

‘Hybrid work’, to use the oft-used term, is indeed the ‘new reality’ (forgive us). Even though a lot of offices are now insisting that employees work from the base, so to speak, it is hard to deny that remote and hybrid work are here to stay.

Organizations, across the globe, irrespective of size, must build a forward-thinking plan that encompasses all things IT to succeed in what is now a hybrid and remote-first professional world.

While the above example is that of a simple record-keeping exercise, there are far bigger challenges to solve when it comes to managing a hybrid workforce. The core problem statement that IT teams, and, in turn, companies, must answer is - how do we have the same effectiveness of an on-site physical interaction in a remote world?

This is the first part of a mini-series on IT hurdles in the hybrid world. While this one sets the background, the blogs in the pipeline will delve into each of these with the help of IT experts who’ve been there and done that.

Without further ado, here are the unique IT challenges companies face due to a hybrid workforce:

1. Can you help me remotely?

"The only thing I would say is that from an IT perspective, you need to be extra patient and build great documentation for remote troubleshooting because it's a bit more daunting for folks when it's remote."- DavidCantReddit, a Reddit user.

While it is easy to raise a ticket and wait for the IT person to come to your desk to sort the issue, remote help isn’t that easy. Companies need the right infrastructure to ensure seamless remote support. While one part of tackling the problem is procuring the right tools, it is also important to come up with the right processes so that these queries are streamlined.

2. Can I use my laptop for work?

"If your company is allowing people in offices or elsewhere to be digital nomads and travel and work anywhere, put in place an IT policy. Don't want to try and replace a laptop for someone who breaks it while working somewhere you have no infrastructure etc.", says DavidCantReddit, a Reddit user, to which

SnoopDonuts, another Reddit user, replies, "yes. good point. have already included the travel and work policy as part of our IT policy."

With hybrid or remote-first work, IT teams have to tackle the challenge that comes with a lack of standardization of devices. Right from laptops, and mobiles to even PCs, it is hard to manage the array of devices in terms of data management, security, and compatibility. The complexity only increases with the size of the organization.

IT professionals must draft a device management strategy and policy that covers all possible angles. It must put ease of use and security at the center and must cover every possible scenario, beginning before onboarding until exit.

3. Are we really secure?

"Infrastructure security is a significant priority for organizations as they tackle rising threats, particularly to endpoint devices in hybrid work environments. From 2020 to 2021, the number of security technologies in deployment rose sharply — from 15% to 84% of evaluated technologies.

In 2021, 64% of respondents reported that they have either increased or are planning to increase investments in security technologies, up from just 31% in 2020."

- Gartner’s ‘The 2021-2023 Emerging Technology Roadmap Survey’

Security is probably the biggest challenge for IT teams given that they now have no control over remote work locations. The more the endpoints, the more the risk of an attack.

Security is among the first long-term decisions that a company needs to take in order to embrace the hybrid work culture.

Companies must select a tool that is easy to integrate, flexible, and can grow with your needs. The vendor must be able to add features as and when required and must offer support 24/7.

Also, come up with a data privacy and compliance policy that covers everything from securing data to VPN. The company must conduct regular sessions to educate employees and also do thorough audits from time to time to check for leaks.

4. Hello, can you hear me?

A key component of going hybrid is finding the right collaboration tools for various use cases like tracking progress, video conferencing, instant messaging, whiteboarding, email, raising tickets, etc. While doing this exercise, IT teams must focus on removing silos and on getting the ideal vendor partner who can extend support round the clock irrespective of the plan you are on.

5. Hang do I raise a ticket, or whom to go to for approval?

A company-wide knowledge base or FAQs will go a long way in ensuring the success of a hybrid work environment. This centralized repository of crucial information and resources will help employees find what they need without any IT intervention and save valuable time for both the IT folks and themselves.

6. Where’s this file? And..wait, can I use my phone to do this job?

"To allow the smooth movement of information between physical and virtual locations, organizations are investing heavily in creating a strong hybrid cloud base, supported by multi-cloud technologies. Distributed cloud systems, cloud access security brokers (CASBs), and cloud enterprise resource planning (ERP) are among those reaching the deployment phase in 2021, with respondents stating that resilience is the primary investment driver for 63% of these cloud technologies."

- Gartner’s The 2021-2023 Emerging Technology Roadmap Survey

The base of a hybrid work environment is a solid cloud strategy. It supports seamless transfer of information. While there are nitty-gritties on what goes into the strategy, what is clear is, there is no hybrid without cloud. Various tools that support hybrid work run on this cloud infrastructure.

Also, a mobile-first approach is crucial in enabling seamless hybrid work collaboration, across tools.

With this little sneak peek, you can soon expect detailed blogs on each challenge with expert views.  Stay tuned!

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