All About Implementing A Hybrid Work Model

implementing hybrid work model home remote working combined office

This is really the hybrid work model’s time in the spotlight. For the past year, it has been largely about remote work whenever possible because of the pandemic. 

Now, however, the pandemic seems to be increasingly under control, and employers are facing decisions about what they do moving forward. 

While some employers are saying employees have to return to the in-person office, others are going with something that has a little more flexibility—the hybrid work model. 

There are a lot of considerations with this model, and there is going to be a significant burden on IT teams in particular to facilitate this type of long-term transition. For example, IT teams are going to have to consider device management, general security concerns, permissions and devices

While cybersecurity and technology needs are a big priority, they are not the only thing that has to be looked at. 

The following are some things companies might need to know about the actual implementation of a hybrid work model. 

The Basics Of A Hybrid Work Model 

The hybrid work model brings together some of the best elements of both remote and in-person work, but that doesn’t mean it’s without challenges. 

What employers are increasingly seeing is that yes, there were true benefits to remote work, but maybe it’s not a feasible option all the time. Employees may be somewhat reluctant to give up all the things they appreciated about remote work as well, so a hybrid model is a compromise on both ends. 

While the hybrid model loosely provides benefits to employers and employees, it’s not one singular model. 

There are many variations of a hybrid model. 

For example, in a remote-first hybrid model, a company would operate almost entirely as a remote organization, with some exceptions. 

In some cases, a hybrid model might look more like flexible scheduling, where employees come into the office a few days a week and work at home the rest of the time. 

Then, there’s also the office-first model that does allow some remote work when it’s feasible, but the focus is on being in-person. 

Proactively Deal With Hybrid Problems 

The hybrid model has the potential to make the most people happy right now, but it’s not without its possible problems. 

If it’s something you’re looking to implement, you’ll want to identify these possible problems and work to proactively avoid them. 

For example, think about what your leadership is going to do because this is going to set the tone for employees. If your company leaders are going to work primarily in-office, this may end up inadvertently being what the employees do too. 

That’s fine, but there needs to be a sense of cohesion as far as the corporate culture, and also some guidelines so that employees are comfortable and know what’s expected of them. 

Whatever the model is, it needs to be something that’s reflected by leadership. 

You will also have to think about how a hybrid model could influence recognition. 

For example, if there’s an imbalance between employees working remotely and those who come into the office, then some employees might be more likely to receive promotions or be recognized for their work. Remote workers will start to feel unappreciated. How will this be dealt with in the implementation of your model? 

Another possible hurdle or issue that can arise is inconsistency in the overall experience of employees. You want remote workers to have, as much as possible, a consistent experience with employees who are in the office. 

Cybersecurity In A Hybrid Model 

There are a lot of things to think about as far as culture and a hybrid model, but also technical considerations, such as how you’ll manage cybersecurity. 

• Phishing Attacks:  Across the board, phishing attacks are one of the biggest cybersecurity nightmares for businesses of all sizes. Scammers send out fraudulent emails and employees might click a link or download an attachment. Then everything is at risk. 

• Security Patches:  A patch is an update for applications or software to remedy any security or maintenance issues. A corporate device will typically have automatic patch downloads and installations when the device is on the corporate network. This might not be the case when employees are working remotely. Employees may be on their own devices on a personal network. 

• Errors:  Employees who aren’t monitored by IT like they are in an office environment might be more lax or even make careless errors when it comes to cybersecurity, such as reusing passwords. 

So what can you do to improve these hybrid work model challenges? 

• You need to update your cybersecurity guidelines and policies to reflect whatever your work environment is going to be moving forward or for the foreseeable future. If you are going with a hybrid model, it is likely that you need to update policies to reflect any changes. 

• Enforce strict password policies and give employees what they need to simplify this on their end. For example, you may want to utilize two-factor authentication. 

• Regularly have digital security training. Cybersecurity is something that has a tendency to change quickly, so training should be frequently refreshed and updated. Some of the biggest risks in cybersecurity are due to human error, which often comes down to a lack of training or understanding. 

• Have a separate network in the form of a VPN for employees when they work remotely. 

• You will need to regularly audit user access and authentication as well as devices that are part of your network. 

• Utilize the principle of least privilege. This means that you often audit who can access what, and you make changes when necessary. Every user should have access to only what they absolutely need to do their jobs. 

How To Hybrid

According to one study, around 87% of business leaders expect to offer more flexibility in the near term, and 72% say they think they will have a hybrid working model. It is an important time to assess what’s going to work best for your company and your employees, and begin to put in place the policies and plans to implement it smoothly. It won't always be perfect, but the more you plan and adjust your process the better it will be.

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