What core infrastructure upgrades will your business need to support a hybrid working future?

The new normal for 2022 and beyond promises to usher in a sea change in how many businesses operate. Post-pandemic shifts in attitude among employees mean established ideas of the nine-to-five, office-based way of working are out and more flexible solutions that place a greater focus on work-life balance are in.

 

A majority of workers now expect a hybrid model that enables them to pick and choose where they work at any given time, and bosses are coming around to this idea as well. For instance, according to figures from Sapio Research, 84 per cent of business and IT decision-makers believe hybrid working will have a “lasting and positive impact on society and the world”.

 

In order to do this successfully, employees need to be able to access the right technology tools wherever they are, whenever they need them, and this continues to be a challenge for many firms. In fact, Sapio Research’s study found technology disruptions and poor home or remote network performance are among the biggest barriers to a successful hybrid working strategy, with 32 per cent and 31 per cent of people respectively citing these as issues.

 

Therefore, it’s vital that any business looking to embrace the new way of working needs to consider if their core infrastructure is up to the job. But what does this involve, and what solutions will firms require?

Challenges facing legacy infrastructure

 

No matter where business activities take place, effective digital tools are a must, and this means fast, reliable infrastructure. Yet many existing systems may struggle to keep up with this, especially if they’ve been built around legacy ideas of contained, on-premises solutions with a simple internet connection to the outside world.

 

These often fail to take into account needs such as remote access and higher demands being placed on key networking infrastructure when information needs to be sent to and from the cloud, or shared across multiple sites and home workers.

 

Even networks that have been built to allow a certain amount of remote access may struggle to cope with the additional pressure placed on them by hybrid working. This may result in issues ranging from the need to increase the number of licenses for remote workers to bottlenecks forming at peak times, when everyone is trying to utilise limited infrastructure resources at once.

 

This often means poorer performance, reduced inefficiency and the emergence of a capability gap between those working in the office and those based primarily at home. As well as reduced revenue, this can mean frustrated employees as they are unable to work as effectively as possible. In turn it can also lead to unacceptable security risks if companies turn to workarounds, such as the use of shadow IT applications or unsecured remote access.

 

The considerations for the cloud

 

For many firms, cloud computing offers an obvious solution to these issues. This can include Software-as-a-Service technologies such as Microsoft 365 that can enable them to manage every key aspect of their operations in one place, or hosted communications tools such as phone services that do not rely on a fixed landline and handset to connect individuals.

 

Whichever cloud options you determine would work best for your business, there are a few key considerations you need to take into account. The first should be availability and reliability. A solution that can provide a strong uptime guarantee should be a must, as even a few minutes of downtime can cause serious disruption. Therefore, it’s vital you ask any potential providers what their promises are in this area.

 

The ability to scale up and expand your infrastructure with additional features and functionality is also important. For instance, adding services such as cloud backups and security solutions is often an essential part of any migration.

 

Without these features, you could be left exposed to data breaches, ransomware, user error or other incidents, so you’ll need to ensure that such solutions integrate effectively with your applications and data storage tools.

Adapting to a hybrid office space

 

It’s also important you don’t overlook on-site infrastructure. Even if you are shifting to a cloud-first or even cloud-only IT environment, you’ll still need solutions on your premises to support your office-based staff, whether they are there full-time or dropping in for a couple of days a week.

 

This might be putting in place the right endpoints and supporting them with an effective, reliable LAN that eliminates any bottlenecks and guarantees fast, low-latency connectivity at all times. Solutions to manage traffic and prioritise the services that need real-time solutions and protect entry points into your premises from threats are also a must.

 

Another consideration needs to be the office itself, and how this will adapt to a hybrid environment.

 

For many firms, the coming years are likely to see a reduction in overall overall sizes, as there will be no need to have space for the entire workforce. At the same time, this is also likely to lead to a reduction in the number of dedicated workstations for individuals. After all, it’s hardly economical to keep a desk reserved for someone who may only be in once or twice a week.

 

Therefore, trends such as hotdesking could become the norm for many businesses, and networking infrastructure will need to support this. For instance, hosted softphone services that can be accessed from any laptop via a web browser will be important, as this ensures that there will be no need to redirect calls or move hardware.

 

Similarly, ensuring there is strong Wi-Fi in place that reaches every corner of the office and supports high-bandwidth services without slowdown is also a must. Without these critical infrastructure components, attempts to run an effective hybrid workplace may be unsuccessful, especially if employees decide their home solutions provide a faster experience.

 

Get in touch with Arrow today to find out more about how your infrastructure can support hybrid working, or read our latest ebook to learn more about this trend.

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