Hybrid Working: The Future of IT Infrastructure in Offices
With the prevalence of hybrid working for knowledge workers in 2023, what is the future of the IT infrastructure in offices? Given the increase in internet connectivity in the last ten years, some organisations have successfully promoted hybrid working. Since 2020, the pandemic has made WFH ubiquitous for office workers across the globe. So, what is hybrid working in 2023, what impact does it have on personnel, what effect does it have on the office, and what are the future of the office and the IT systems on which businesses depend?
Remote working, collaborative online working, and flexible working, like the 4-day week, are all part of the changing work landscape. Hybrid work is defined loosely to accommodate a combination of office work and working-from-home days in the working week. Hybrid work is an option for those whose work is not location-based. Hybrid working is not a homogenous, not a one size fits all idea and is peculiar to each organisation and often to individuals within organisations. Everyone wants different things, and the overall picture is still emerging. However, what is clear from the commentators is that hybrid working is commonplace, and there is a drive to refine and perfect the model within organisations.
The impact of hybrid working on personnel has been largely positive. Recent studies suggest that hybrid work is more productive than traditional models of commuting and working in offices, possibly because employees value autonomy and decision-making freedom within their working day. Employee expectations have changed, and employees expect to have options. For employers, hybrid working has raised issues about supervision and management training, specifically for the management of remote workers. Acceptance of the concept of hybrid work means that employers can look for staff in a far more comprehensive way. Commentators expect the growing trend towards gig work will continue, with companies turning to contractors and freelancers to meet their staffing needs in the knowledge that they can successfully support people remotely.
Hybrid working has had a significant impact on the environment of the office. Software advances, cloud connections, and edge computing have made hybrid possible. There will be a drive to develop and perfect the software applicable for remote working software, and this drive will include virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR), and tracking software to monitor remote working and output. Employers can make significant savings with a reduced office footprint, and there is a repurposing of the space available for intentional meetings, cooperative activities, and projects rather than spaces for daily workers.
What is the future of the office and IT systems that facilitate business and the hybrid workplace? As employees increasingly choose to split their time between remote and in-house work, a centralised IT department with access to critical data across multiple locations will require new systems infrastructure and protocols. With smaller office footprints, businesses will provide an edge hub for IT rather than the server room of the past. Increasingly companies will use a hybrid cloud system whereby the office offers a conduit to the devices and the sophisticated software that facilitates hybrid working. Businesses will continue to use the cloud but have a reduced and more effective edge component in offices housing significant servers and mission-critical data. Sustainability and environmental initiatives and the significance of efficiency to businesses will drive tech buying decisions for more environmentally friendly hardware.
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