The transition to hybrid work from the work-from-home environment is putting pressure on IT departments to cater to split in-person and remote enterprise needs.
Half (53.4%) of IT professionals say the ongoing management of remote and hybrid workers is one of their biggest challenges, according to a JumpCloud survey of 401 U.S. SME IT decision-makers. Meeting security, business continuity and employee demands weighs on IT workers as they begin to manage technology across environments.
IT professionals are stressed by this challenge. Two-thirds of decision-makers say they feel overwhelmed trying to manage remote work, according to the survey.
"The challenges of managing people's home working environments is difficult, not only because it's remote, but because there are also security concerns at play and privacy concerns at play," said Tom Bridge, principal product manager for Apple technologies at JumpCloud.
Workers in the office versus those in remote locations may have different credential requirements based on Wi-Fi security provisions, for example, and IT has to manage both simultaneously.
Despite the challenges, more companies are switching to remote work, such as Salesforce, Twitter, Facebook and Dropbox. But it's not just tech companies. Capital One announced its official move to a hybrid work model earlier this week.
Throughout the switch to large-scale remote work "our technology infrastructure and systems have proven to be effective and resilient," paving the way toward full-scale hybrid, Melanie Frank, managing VP, technology at Capital One, told CIO Dive via email.
The company transitioned operations staff to meet the challenge. Capital One shifted its customer support associates team from 1,600 employees working remotely to over 13,000 employees, according to Frank.
But IT departments will have to grapple with cleaning up a sprawling set of collaboration apps and software, deciding which ones will best suit hybrid needs long-term.
The challenge will be determining what organizations need for each use case and which tools can be rationalized to reduce cost and sprawl, according to Kaumil Dalal, senior partner at West Monroe's technology practice.
More tools to meet hybrid demands
Alongside consolidation, businesses are purchasing more tools to meet hybrid demands.
More than half (58.4%) of IT departments plan to spend more on remote management technologies as they navigate the hybrid environment, according to the JumpCloud survey. The increased funds will go toward finding both immediate and long term tech solutions.
While investing in IT can be expensive — and the ROI sometimes goes unnoticed — tech also acts as "enablers for your workforce, they are helping your people get their jobs done," Bridge said. Investing in tools such as VPN to sustain hybrid work in the long term can prevent future hiccups.
At Capital One, Frank touts past digital transformations for building a hybrid foundation.
"As part of our technology transformation, we focused on designing and creating physical and digital workspaces that foster rapid innovation and fluid collaboration, which are more important than ever at a time when the majority of our associates are working from home," Frank said.
Those tools and transformations that enabled remote work will also enable a hybrid future, where employees work both in-person and remotely.
But the hybrid work set up provides an opportunity for IT departments to rethink tools and practices to best serve the workforce. From visitor management software to digital whiteboards to unified endpoint management, the infrastructure can be reshaped to niche business needs.
Data analytics can help, according to Dalal. Reviewing employee work behaviors and patterns on the tools already in place can indicate where adjustments should be made to optimize use.
"Technology has a huge role in not only optimizing the employee experience but also enabling employees with new ways of working," Dalal said. "The important question comes in around how everybody should have equal opportunities to be heard [and] perform their best, regardless of their work location."
Clarification: The article has been updated to reflect additional information from Capital One on how it transitioned customer support associates to support remote work.