As hybrid working strategies mature, companies are fast discovering that choice is vital. Employers need to offer a flexible approach to balance diverse home and office working preferences. But they must also provide a choice of technology options, especially in key unified communication (UC) tools. This is according to Jason Barker, SVP EMEA & APAC at IR.
Consolidating onto a single UC platform may appear to be the best solution, but limiting every employee to a single solution can constrain productivity, undermine morale, and encourage the use of Shadow IT, explains Jason Barker, SVP EMEA & APAC, IR.
Rigid hybrid strategies will never meet the needs of a diverse workforce, but a flexible attitude must extend beyond HR policies and include the UC tools used by employees.
Wherever they choose to work, it is vital that employees can make meaningful connections, both with colleagues and business partners. They need to be confident in their ability to use a variety of tools, from video conferencing to collaboration.
Over the past two years, IT teams have accelerated strategic UC deployments in a bid to wrestle back control over the corporate infrastructure. A prime objective is to put an end to the costly and high-risk Shadow IT adopted in the early days of enforced WFH when individuals made their own choice of video conferencing, file sharing, and messaging solutions. Yet many of these ‘emergency’ solutions are an employee’s WFH comfort blanket. People have adapted to their preferred tools and, where possible, adapted the tools to work for them.
Today, 85 per cent of businesses are using two or more meeting platforms and many companies are looking to reduce costs by consolidating onto one platform. While UC performance is routinely monitored, the information is collected on a system-by-system basis.
Companies are not monitoring the tools individuals are using at home or their preferred out-of-office locations. From coffee shops to local hubs, employees are opting to use their favourite Shadow IT solutions and side-lining the corporate standards. The result is not only an unseen and unquantified operational security risk but also a missed opportunity to understand how employees are adapting to hybrid working and any signs of a lack of engagement with the business.
End-to-end monitoring of the entire UC environment, including home working, can provide the business with invaluable insight to support the evolution of hybrid strategies.
Hybrid working will only succeed if staff is committed, engaged, and able to collaborate effectively, wherever they are located. And that is far from inevitable if IT attempts to impose a solution that doesn’t work as well as their Shadow IT alternative. Clearly, it is essential that everyone uses the UC solutions that are purchased, implemented, and run by the corporate IT team, and that the infrastructure is secure, compliant, and well-managed. Choice is key. To offer employees the right choice, it is essential to understand how UC platforms are working at home and in the office, for both individuals and the business.