Preparing for a hybrid future of work

Featured in The Times ‘Future of Work & Collaboration’ Report 

From the moment the World Health Organisation declared COVID-19 a global pandemic in March, businesses faced a race against the clock to ensure staff could continue to work productively and securely from home before a national lockdown was enforced.

With technology crucial to enabling the transition to remote working, reliance on IT operations teams increased substantially as they were tasked with moving employees from a relatively controlled environment with few variables to a highly unpredictable one.

Companies suddenly had employees connected via all different types of internet methods, which IT had barely any control, visibility or influence over. They were working in a shared environment alongside families and housemates, creating a chaotic experience that put an exceptional burden on IT teams to support as best they could.

“There were a handful of organisations that we saw do it quite well,” says Bryan Osoro, vice president of sales at EOS IT Solutions, a global technology and logistics company, which provides collaboration and business IT support services to some of the world’s largest organisations. “They embraced policies and consumed technology that enabled the transition to happen pretty quickly. They can look back and pat themselves on the back.

“Then there was a much larger contingency of organisations that just scrambled through. It was very much a raw transition and, expecting it to only be temporary, they gave their employees more or less just the bare bones to connect to the apps they needed to stay productive. As they didn’t see it as a longer-term transition, the experience was subpar.”

Having seen how successful remote working has been for them, many companies are planning to embrace work-from-home policies in the long term as part of a more hybrid workforce. To enable that and improve the employee experience, they are reviewing what they can give them. Whether it’s particular types of internet connectivity, or standardised equipment such as dedicated video endpoints or professional-grade headsets, employees must have a consistent work experience wherever they are so they are engaged and not isolated.

In this emerging new normal, businesses are re-evaluating what their work landscape looks like and repurposing it so employees feel comfortable, productive and collaborative when, and if, they eventually return to the office. A more touchless office experience is also central to return-to-work plans. Reducing contact in workspaces means utilising collaboration technology such as voice assistant and touchscreens to book rooms.

“Fortunately, many technology vendors like Microsoft, Google, Zoom and Cisco had already started incorporating artificial intelligence-based mechanisms within their platforms, even before COVID-19 arrived,” says Osoro.

“Cisco, for example, allows users of its collaboration technology to walk into a video room and say, ‘Hey, Webex, join my call’. Microsoft also have a similar feature, through the team’s mobile app which allows users to control in-room devices without touching the centre console.

“People are already comfortable using this kind of technology with the likes of Amazon Alexa and Apple Siri in their personal lives, and companies can now bring that experience into the workplace so staff can join meetings, take notes and see who’s on a call with- out having to touch a device.

“The need for touchless collaboration technology is in huge demand more so than ever. Fortunately for companies, EOS continuously scales hurdles to provide global IT excellence for a multitude of customers in order to support them in making a safe and successful return to work experience, through fast-global deployment that is cost effective and risk-free.

“Not only will organisations now need to embrace this new technology, but they will also need to re-evaluate their meeting rooms to comply with social distancing guidelines. 

“Through our conversations with customers about how their workplaces will look, we are seeing several common themes. Some companies are taking existing conference rooms and repurposing them to reduce capacity by half or more. Others are moving away from the conference room notion altogether and instead building use case-specific spaces, such as interview rooms and small, yet open, huddle areas with good airflow.” 

The New Normal

As companies embrace this hybrid world of work, the need for a well-thought-out and complete IT life-cycle service has become apparent. EOS is bringing its heritage of global scale and logistics together with expertise in deploying the most powerful video-based collaboration experiences together to offer a consistent and standardised work-from-home environment, which dramatically improves the remote work experience. 

EOS Remote Excellence is a solution that proved particularly valuable during the pandemic and will continue to feature heavily as companies enter the new normal. The solution that is offered by EOS streamlines the design, procurement, delivery, onboarding and support of the work experience, wherever an employee is based. Simultaneously, it eases the burden on IT operations teams, which in turn enables them to focus their time and effort on innovation for the business. 

“It is a challenge for IT organisations to get equipment to people’s homes because they have to schedule shipping. Logistically, it’s just a hassle to deal with,” says Osoro. “With our strong logistics background, EOS is proficient at getting equipment and technology in the full IT supply chain into approximately 175 countries. We are taking those learnings and reapplying processes for home workers, creating a standard support model for the equipment available to them, through a build, operate, transfer model.

“In this new world of video-first collaboration, we are also able to lean on our extensive expertise in video endpoint deployments when looking at the work-from-home experience and the burden on IT. We are taking our knowledge from building tens of thousands of video rooms over the years and applying that to people’s homes.”

The pandemic has caused consumer patterns to shift drastically, often enabled by video-based technologies. Through this transition, people have become much more comfortable with video-first engagements in their personal lives, whether it be attending a yoga class via Zoom or cocktail party with friends via Google Duo. Now, as with smartphones before, consumers are demanding what they are using in their personal lives to be operational at work. A video-first experience will be central to the hybrid workforce and IT organisations there-fore need to prepare to support this in a way that’s as simple for employees to implement. 

“They need to take advantage of one-button-to-join functionality for meetings, so employees aren’t fumbling around trying to find a long URL to join or having to dial in manually,” says Osoro. “That has to be a focal point for IT operations teams, keeping it simple for employees.” In a response to a global pandemic the future of the workplace is digital technology, which EOS can provide at scale. It is through EOS IT Solutions’ 35-year heritage in IT distribution and experience in deploying thousands of endpoints worldwide that they have the ability to support organisations to make the transition to the hybrid work experience securely, with diligence and at speed.

For information on how EOS IT Solutions can support your business, please contact our team info@eosits.com.

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