Two and a half years into the pandemic, many companies are still grappling with the same questions: Should employees be back in the office full-time? What about a hybrid situation? Will we lose all our culture if we go full remote… or sensitive company data? And is it even safe to have the team in yet with these new COVID-19 variants?
Workers are also debating the same questions. Smart companies are listening to what their employees want from their workplace, and opinions vary widely. According to a Generation Lab survey, about 40% of Gen Z workers want to return to the office. This is compared to a similar survey from Slack that shows only about 12% of older generations wish to go back to the office full-time. Another study from Washington State University found that a majority of Gen Z felt less passionate about their work when they worked only remotely, though a percentage also expressed reluctance about going fully back to the office.
See More: Biggest Technology Mistakes During the Rush to Remote Work (Plus How to Avoid Them)
In my view, employees should feel supported working where they feel most productive, happy, and safe. At Jamf, we view our offices as a service provided to employees — a place they can brainstorm, work on team projects, visit each other and more. Today, the vast majority of Jamf’s team works primarily remotely, and since March of 2020, the company has hired more employees that are not tied to an office at all. But as vaccination rates rise and we begin to accept this new normal, more and more of the team wants to return to the offices at least part-time. They miss the camaraderie and energy our workplaces have!
Give Workers the Physical Workplace They Want Today
The first step to re-creating an office space where employees actually want to spend their time is making it easy to get into. Maybe your employees are normally all-remote but want to visit an office occasionally for meetings or events. Such employees may misplace an access badge or fob they rarely use or may never be issued one at all. Jamf recently changed its building access systems so employees can use their iPhones or Apple Watches to enter our offices. Little touches like that can streamline office visits and make office space even more welcoming. And for our over 1,000 new employees that have started since the pandemic began, there is no need for us to send them a physical badge — they just add their employee badge in Apple Wallet with two touches, and they are ready to go brainstorm with their employees.
Jamf also re-created our workplace with hotel desks that are easily reserved with an app called Envoy. Team members can see who else is in the office and reserve desks near their teammates. Outfitting all meeting rooms with top cameras and iPads to allow for mixed in-person and remote attendees makes hybrid meetings possible.
Make Them Powerful, Yet Protected, Regardless of Where They Sign In
For most, if not all, workers, the perimeter of the office has changed. More and more people are signing in from places outside of their homes. The old perimeter-based security model, which focuses on putting sensitive organizational resources on a secure network that employees can only access while in the office, can cause major difficulties for remote or hybrid employees looking to work wherever they feel the most productive. Accessing the information and tools they need for work often requires installing network hardware in the home or going through the extra step of logging into a virtual private network (VPN) to perform certain tasks, which can dampen productivity and creativity. Forward-thinking organizations are adopting a Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) approach, which authenticates all users and devices attempting to access any company resource, regardless of where they are trying to work from. This technology is nearly invisible and does not impact the end-user impact; something organizations should strive for to give a similar technology experience at work as their employees have at home.
Employing a ZTNA approach is not the only step organizations can take. They can also look at using ZTNA in conjunction with an identity and access management (IAM) solution. These two solutions together help employees get signed in as quickly as possible through single sign-on (SSO) access to the company’s resources.
Above All, Ensure Parity With Remote and In-person Workers
If you are truly trying to give your employees the choice of working where they work best, you must ensure they have similar top-notch technology and employee experience no matter where they are working from. Achieving experience parity means that employees working remotely do not have a lackluster experience. This may include dealing with additional login prompts, technology issues, missing important information, or conversations happening in a meeting room. It also means employees are not more vulnerable to security threats than those who choose to work in an office. Moreover, it means outfitting employees who DO choose to work from an office with top video conferencing software, badging and more.
See More: Top Tools That Help You Improve Remote Worker Productivity
Organizations also need to think about cultural differences and expectations according to geography. Some geographies do lean more toward the in-person office experience, but they collaborate with team members in geographies that may be more dispersed. We must recognize these cultural differences while also ensuring an overall equitable experience.
Creating an equitable employee experience is an ongoing challenge, and many companies are learning how to best do this together. But by listening to your employees, creating a physical space suited for their new needs, and making sure they are just as empowered and protected if they are signing in from outside the four walls of the office, you can successfully realize hybrid work at your company.
What steps have you taken to make your employees feel supported wherever they are? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.