IT and business leaders recognized early on in the pandemic that the transition to a digitally-focused, cloud-based organizational model was the way forward, given the necessity of remote and hybrid work. With as much as 60% of the workforce at home, organizations had to meet those demands fast — and they did.

In North America, organizations leaped forward six years when it came to offering digital solutions and services, according to a global survey of executives by McKinsey. The rate at which organizations acted on COVID-19-related changes was even faster.

“In the case of remote working, respondents actually say their companies moved 40 times more quickly than they thought possible before the pandemic,” the report by McKinsey says. “Before then, respondents say it would have taken more than a year to implement the level of remote working that took place during the crisis.”

IT and business leaders recognized early on in the pandemic that the transition to a digitally-focused, cloud-based organizational model was the way forward, given the necessity of remote and hybrid work. With as much as 60% of the workforce at home, organizations had to meet those demands fast — and they did.

In North America, organizations leaped forward six years when it came to offering digital solutions and services, according to a global survey of executives by McKinsey. The rate at which organizations acted on COVID-19-related changes was even faster.

“In the case of remote working, respondents actually say their companies moved 40 times more quickly than they thought possible before the pandemic,” the report by McKinsey says. “Before then, respondents say it would have taken more than a year to implement the level of remote working that took place during the crisis.”

The pandemic created an overwhelming sense of urgency and need. IT and business leaders stepped in to guide their organizations forward during a most uncertain time. However, it wasn’t without challenges, some of which persist today.

While the incredibly fast pivot to remote work demanded that IT leaders focus on making connections, those organizations that didn’t have a solid security strategy in place remained vulnerable. According to some estimates, cybersecurity threats have increased by 26% in both volume and severity since March.

Despite the constant priority that security should take, it’s not the only challenge facing organizations during their transition to a long-term hybrid work model. Productivity remains a concern as feelings of burnout continue to mount, along with keeping employees happy and engaged. Thankfully, there are plenty of software solutions to help organizations empower their hybrid workforce for the long term, while keeping security a top priority.

In this blog post, you’ll learn about various software solutions to consider while your organization transitions to longer term hybrid work.

Health and Security Software Must Take Priority

During the early stages of the outbreak, connecting the workforce took top priority. Among the results of the transition to remote work was a 37% increase in cloud spending, totalling about $29 billion in 2020.

But after months of continued remote and hybrid work, it’s best for IT and security teams to find and fill any gaps that could affect the health, wellbeing and security of employees and the organization.

Security Shouldn’t Take a Back Seat — Even If It Did Before

“‘Connectivity first’ was the focus for many during the early weeks of the crisis… In the rush, many companies compressed or ignored their risk and change management processes,” according to a PwC report.

The result: Organizations could be at risk from both internal (shadow IT) and external (hackers) actors.

By now, it’s safe to say organizations likely secured all the Zoom licenses they need. The next step is to assess the organization’s security continuously to find gaps, vulnerabilities, and, finally, solutions.

While employees work remotely, they must have access to on-site data and material. But, as they operate off of home internet or even personal machines, it’s important to add layers of security to ensure the right people have access sensitive or proprietary information.

Consider these three software solutions for a hybrid workforce:

  1. Virtual private network (VPN)
  2. Two-factor authentication (2FA)
  3. Antivirus and anti-malware (For personal and work machines)

Implementing a VPN and ensuring it can handle the demands of the remote workforce will enable employees to access information that might’ve been exclusively available on site before. Two-factor authentication can create another barrier of security at a time when cybersecurity threats continue to rise. What’s more, it adds extra strength to the normal sign-on process by requiring another point of verification. Considering that hackers can compromise 90% of passwords within hours, 2FA can provide some peace of mind.

Important questions to answer internally:

  • If employees use their personal devices for work, how is that data secured?
  • Can your IT department control the organization’s data on work and personal devices remotely?
  • Is additional training and communication needed to educate remote and hybrid workers on security best practices during this time?

Health-Screening Apps Help Protect Employees Returning to Work

As an added layer to temperature screenings, social distancing and other in-person protocols, organizations should consider preventive measures like health screenings that employees take before they even leave the house.

Microsoft developed an app in partnership with UnitedHealth Group called ProtectWell. It’s meant to help employees and employers track symptoms, confirmed COVID-19 cases and more, with the intent to prevent the spread of the disease at work.

In the months ahead, as organizations build on their plans to bring employees back to the office, it’s important to consider implementing solutions like app-based health screenings to protect employees from those exhibiting symptoms.

However, it’s important to roll out applications like this in a transparent way, communicating the benefits of using a solution like this but also the way the organization plans to manage and store employees’ health data. Err on the side of too much communication, rather than too little, whenever possible to encourage adoption and quell feelings of uncertainty.

Productivity Levels Increased during COVID-19. But Is It Just Organized Chaos?

HR benefits consulting firm Mercer surveyed 800 employers about productivity during the pandemic and the results likely surprised some. According to its findings, 94% of employers reported productivity at pre-pandemic levels or higher.

“For a long time, companies with strong remote-work programs have reported excellent productivity,” said Brie Weiler Reynolds, career development manager and coach at FlexJobs, in an article. “What is most surprising about this is that productivity has remained strong amid the worst conditions for working remotely.”

Historically, some employers retained a mindset that if employees weren’t in the office, they weren’t working. The forced global, remote-work experiment brought on by COVID-19 disproves that notion many times over. However, that’s not to say productivity levels will sustain without help from additional resources, including software solutions to keep employees connected, engaged and effective at their jobs no matter where they work.

Remote Teams Must Stay Connected And Manage Their To-Do Lists

From the top down, hybrid work will stay long after the fears of COVID-19 dissipate. The opportunity to work remotely afforded employees (and employers) many benefits that most want to retain. By and large, employers plan to oblige by adopting new policies, like flexible work hours and days.

But during everybody’s respective work day (or night), how is work getting done?

Whether it’s for the marketing or sales teams, executives, customer support or another, these types of software tools power remote work:

  • Real-time collaboration and whiteboarding
  • Time tracking and performance analysis
  • Customer and employee engagement
  • Shared cloud drives for storage
  • Project management
  • Knowledge bases

Employees must have a way to stay in contact, brainstorm ideas and innovate just as they would in the office. Software like Microsoft Teams or Slack help enable real-time communication and spontaneous ideation with whiteboarding features, live chat, and video conferencing.

Pair real-time collaboration tools with project management, time tracking, and cloud storage software, remote and hybrid teams will enjoy a well-structured workflow powered by the cloud.

Important questions to answer internally:

  • As employees begin their return to work, are meeting and conference rooms outfitted with collaboration technology to connect hybrid workers?
  • Does your organization use more than one unified collaboration platform (For example, Zoom, Teams or Webex)? If so, have you taken steps to create interoperability among these software applications?
  • Does IT have insight into all the software applications used throughout the organization and across departments? If not, what steps must be taken to curb shadow IT applications and promote secure solutions for employees?

Wield Software to Empower a Hybrid Workforce

When beginning the search for software applications, it’s best to start by identifying the organization’s needs and goals, then work backward to find a solution that contains the functionality needed. Then, vet the software for its security and compliance standards to ensure employees are safe whether they’re at home or in the office.

From there, it’s a matter of adoption. With the right training, regular communication, and a bit of encouragement (or incentive), the organization will maximize its ability to stay organized and productive during a period of constant change.

As your organization continues to transition from remote to hybrid work, consider how an AV integrator can help. Hillman AV specializes in meeting room design and video conferencing solutions. Hillman’s experts can help you identify and integrate solutions to establish connections between remote and on-site workers by leveraging collaboration software across the organization.

Learn more about Hillman AV’s solutions here.

While the incredibly fast pivot to remote work demanded that IT leaders focus on making connections, those organizations that didn’t have a solid security strategy in place remained vulnerable. According to some estimates, cybersecurity threats have increased by 26% in both volume and severity since March.

Despite the constant priority that security should take, it’s not the only challenge facing organizations during their transition to a long-term hybrid work model. Productivity remains a concern as feelings of burnout continue to mount, along with keeping employees happy and engaged. Thankfully, there are plenty of software solutions to help organizations empower their hybrid workforce for the long term, while keeping security a top priority.

In this blog post, you’ll learn about various software solutions to consider while your organization transitions to longer term hybrid work.

Health and Security Software Must Take Priority

During the early stages of the outbreak, connecting the workforce took top priority. Among the results of the transition to remote work was a 37% increase in cloud spending, totalling about $29 billion in 2020.

But after months of continued remote and hybrid work, it’s best for IT and security teams to find and fill any gaps that could affect the health, wellbeing and security of employees and the organization.

Security Shouldn’t Take a Back Seat — Even If It Did Before

“‘Connectivity first’ was the focus for many during the early weeks of the crisis… In the rush, many companies compressed or ignored their risk and change management processes,” according to a PwC report.

The result: Organizations could be at risk from both internal (shadow IT) and external (hackers) actors.

By now, it’s safe to say organizations likely secured all the Zoom licenses they need. The next step is to assess the organization’s security continuously to find gaps, vulnerabilities, and, finally, solutions.

While employees work remotely, they must have access to on-site data and material. But, as they operate off of home internet or even personal machines, it’s important to add layers of security to ensure the right people have access sensitive or proprietary information.

Consider these three software solutions for a hybrid workforce:

  1. Virtual private network (VPN)
  2. Two-factor authentication (2FA)
  3. Antivirus and anti-malware (For personal and work machines)

Implementing a VPN and ensuring it can handle the demands of the remote workforce will enable employees to access information that might’ve been exclusively available on site before. Two-factor authentication can create another barrier of security at a time when cybersecurity threats continue to rise. What’s more, it adds extra strength to the normal sign-on process by requiring another point of verification. Considering that hackers can compromise 90% of passwords within hours, 2FA can provide some peace of mind.

Important questions to answer internally:

  • If employees use their personal devices for work, how is that data secured?
  • Can your IT department control the organization’s data on work and personal devices remotely?
  • Is additional training and communication needed to educate remote and hybrid workers on security best practices during this time?

Health-Screening Apps Help Protect Employees Returning to Work

As an added layer to temperature screenings, social distancing and other in-person protocols, organizations should consider preventive measures like health screenings that employees take before they even leave the house.

Microsoft developed an app in partnership with UnitedHealth Group called ProtectWell. It’s meant to help employees and employers track symptoms, confirmed COVID-19 cases and more, with the intent to prevent the spread of the disease at work.

In the months ahead, as organizations build on their plans to bring employees back to the office, it’s important to consider implementing solutions like app-based health screenings to protect employees from those exhibiting symptoms.

However, it’s important to roll out applications like this in a transparent way, communicating the benefits of using a solution like this but also the way the organization plans to manage and store employees’ health data. Err on the side of too much communication, rather than too little, whenever possible to encourage adoption and quell feelings of uncertainty.

Productivity Levels Increased during COVID-19. But Is It Just Organized Chaos?

HR benefits consulting firm Mercer surveyed 800 employers about productivity during the pandemic and the results likely surprised some. According to its findings, 94% of employers reported productivity at pre-pandemic levels or higher.

“For a long time, companies with strong remote-work programs have reported excellent productivity,” said Brie Weiler Reynolds, career development manager and coach at FlexJobs, in an article. “What is most surprising about this is that productivity has remained strong amid the worst conditions for working remotely.”

Historically, some employers retained a mindset that if employees weren’t in the office, they weren’t working. The forced global, remote-work experiment brought on by COVID-19 disproves that notion many times over. However, that’s not to say productivity levels will sustain without help from additional resources, including software solutions to keep employees connected, engaged and effective at their jobs no matter where they work.

Remote Teams Must Stay Connected And Manage Their To-Do Lists

From the top down, hybrid work will stay long after the fears of COVID-19 dissipate. The opportunity to work remotely afforded employees (and employers) many benefits that most want to retain. By and large, employers plan to oblige by adopting new policies, like flexible work hours and days.

But during everybody’s respective work day (or night), how is work getting done?

Whether it’s for the marketing or sales teams, executives, customer support or another, these types of software tools power remote work:

  • Real-time collaboration and whiteboarding
  • Time tracking and performance analysis
  • Customer and employee engagement
  • Shared cloud drives for storage
  • Project management
  • Knowledge bases

Employees must have a way to stay in contact, brainstorm ideas and innovate just as they would in the office. Software like Microsoft Teams or Slack help enable real-time communication and spontaneous ideation with whiteboarding features, live chat, and video conferencing.

Pair real-time collaboration tools with project management, time tracking, and cloud storage software, remote and hybrid teams will enjoy a well-structured workflow powered by the cloud.

Important questions to answer internally:

  • As employees begin their return to work, are meeting and conference rooms outfitted with collaboration technology to connect hybrid workers?
  • Does your organization use more than one unified collaboration platform (For example, Zoom, Teams or Webex)? If so, have you taken steps to create interoperability among these software applications?
  • Does IT have insight into all the software applications used throughout the organization and across departments? If not, what steps must be taken to curb shadow IT applications and promote secure solutions for employees?

Wield Software to Empower a Hybrid Workforce

When beginning the search for software applications, it’s best to start by identifying the organization’s needs and goals, then work backward to find a solution that contains the functionality needed. Then, vet the software for its security and compliance standards to ensure employees are safe whether they’re at home or in the office.

From there, it’s a matter of adoption. With the right training, regular communication, and a bit of encouragement (or incentive), the organization will maximize its ability to stay organized and productive during a period of constant change.

As your organization continues to transition from remote to hybrid work, consider how an AV integrator can help. Hillman AV specializes in meeting room design and video conferencing solutions. Hillman’s experts can help you identify and integrate solutions to establish connections between remote and on-site workers by leveraging collaboration software across the organization.

Learn more about Hillman AV’s solutions here.

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