How Can You Optimise Hybrid Working in Your Organisation?

It’s no longer new, it’s no longer trendy, and it’s no longer temporary. In Europe, hybrid work is here to stay.

As the dust settles in the aftermath of the short-term crisis period provoked by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s becoming increasingly clear that widespread adoption of flexible and hybrid working models will be part of the pandemic’s lasting legacy. 

In our recent survey of more than 500 digital workplace decision-makers, we found that a majority of European companies are now giving their on-site workers the option to choose a few days each week or month to work from home or another location. In fact, As many as 45% of European organisations now allow employees to work remotely as often as three days per week (All data sourced from The Okta Hybrid Work Report 2023 report unless otherwise stated.)

Now that hybrid working has been normalised, its benefits are more widely understood. In the early days of pandemic-induced lockdowns, many managers feared that productivity would plummet when employees were required to work from home. Instead, it soared. Employees attended more meetings, sent more emails, and completed more projects than they had in the  former days of office-based work. Reflecting this reality, a clear majority of respondents to our survey stated that they consider remote workers to be more productive than their in-office counterparts.

But enhanced productivity isn’t the only advantage that hybrid work adoption brings. Organisations can right-size their real-estate footprint to reduce unnecessary expenditures on rent and utilities. They can make progress towards environmental, social, and governance (ESG) objectives by reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions because fewer employees are commuting and less office space is needed for each worker. Plus, companies can successfully attract the most talented employees when they improve their ability to support emotional health, well-being, and work-life balance. 

While fully-remote organisations remain a rarity within Europe, it’s now recognised that hybrid work makes it possible to balance employees’ desires with their employers’ needs, all while remaining flexible and open to the changes that the future will inevitably bring. It’s only logical that it’s fast becoming the norm. 

However, most organisations haven’t yet perfected their hybrid workplace strategies. Instead, they continue to experiment, evaluating new ways to increase employee engagement and job satisfaction, strengthen collaborative relationships, enhance productivity, and boost security. 

Here are four key ways that your company can optimise its hybrid work environment.

Enable frictionless collaboration 

Remote workers can be just as productive as on-site employees if—and only if—they have seamless access to the tools and technologies that enable their productivity. In today’s world, videoconferencing platforms and collaboration solutions are far more integral to employees’ day-to-day workflows than they were even a few short years ago. This means that ensuring high availability of these applications is now critical for the organisation’s overall productivity. 

Modern workforce identity solutions like Single Sign-On (SSO) make it easier for employees to access the tools they need to get their jobs done, no matter where they’re located. In fact, implementing a secure cloud-based SSO solution makes it 50% faster for users to adopt, log in to, and use new apps. Plus, IT and support teams will see 75% fewer login-related help desk calls. 

Incorporating contextual access management can further speed and streamline approval for access requests in low-risk situations, while incorporating additional assurance factors at times when this extra diligence is warranted. This gives security leaders confidence that every single access request will be evaluated individually and contextually, while giving employees ready access to all the resources they need for productivity, regardless of where or when they’re working.

In addition, device context-specific controls (Device Trust) can empower security teams to automatically permit different levels of access for known, unknown, and managed devices. This way, a device with an endpoint management agent installed could automatically be granted greater access than one without it. In turn , a device’s mobile device management (MDM) profile could be used to determine which access requests should be granted, as Device Trust can reduce management overhead at the same time that it bolsters security. 

Boost security with robust authentication

Now that employees are working from multiple different locations, it’s critical to have a secure workforce identity solution that can connect all employees to the resources they need, no matter where they are . Capabilities like SSO and Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)  can improve user productivity by enabling access from any device, anywhere, while greatly reducing the risk of a devastating breach.

As your organisation’s workforce identity strategy matures, you’ll likely think further about how you can evolve your approach to deliver secure access experiences that will also delight end users. Passwordless authentication not only delivers highly secure, phishing-resistant access to protect against credential compromise, but also minimises friction. A modern passwordless authentication solution like Okta FastPass not only allows for a consistent experience across all devices and platforms, but can also leverage devices’ built-in biometric access capabilities (where available) to create seamless end-to-end login workflows.

Create equitable experiences for remote and in-office employees

Our survey revealed that increasing employee well-being and enhancing productivity are key drivers motivating organisations to adopt hybrid work. If these objectives are to be realised, organisations must focus on the experiences that they’re providing their end users—both in the office and elsewhere. 

It’s critical that organisations strive to eliminate proximity bias within workplace cultures, but it’s also important to establish technology-enabled workflows (such as login processes) that are consistent across all locations where work gets done. Not only does this ensure that remote and in-office employees will have equitable experiences, but it also simplifies the process of enforcing consistent security policies across the entire organisation.

Find creative new ways to engage employees

An organisation’s culture is the sum total of its employees’ values and beliefs and the business and operational processes that guide and inform their behaviour. To truly enable flexible working, you’ll need to do more than simply permit employees to work from home (or another location) for a certain number of days each week. Instead, it requires a larger mindset shift.

To optimise the hybrid workplace, leaders will need to be intentional about how they’re asking people to allocate their time: Which activities are best accomplished collaboratively? Which require focused bursts of individual work? Which kinds of collaboration need to be face-to-face? Which should be synchronous, and which asynchronous?  

Once stakeholders have begun to experiment with adopting new systems and processes to support productivity, they can iterate as they learn more about what works best within their individual organisation. The businesses that will be most successful at building long-term, employee-centric work strategies will be those that are best able to provide their employees with both robust security and frictionless access to applications, data, and resources. They’ll also need to cultivate identity and technology strategies that complement people’s preferred—and most effective—ways of working.

Learn more about how Okta Workforce Identity solutions are making it possible for leading organisations to implement Zero Trust-based security, while keeping their hybrid and remote employees happy and productive. Download TheOkta Hybrid Work Report 2023 to explore our survey’s findings in greater depth.