As the world finally returns to a sense of normality - and in-person meetings, travel and social events resume - we all know that one aspect of post-pandemic life may have changed indefinitely – the concept of the office.
Across Europe, hybrid working has become – and will likely stay - the norm, with most companies only requiring their employees to be in the office two or three days a week. Time spent in the office is now intentional and purpose-driven, focused on collaborative meetings and socialising with colleagues.
The new normal is now
In 2020, companies around the globe were forced to undertake a crash course in digital transformation, swiftly migrating to the cloud and equipping their workforces with the tools they needed to enable business continuity.
It's safe to say that both individuals and organisations have since settled comfortably into remote working. And while some businesses and industries continue their efforts to lure staff back to the office full-time, it appears employees largely prefer the flexibility that the new way of working entails.
83% of workers in Accenture's global Future of Work study – which explored what drove people to be productive, healthy and effective in the new era of work – said that they felt the hybrid working model was optimal in the long term. The same study also found that employees who felt they could be productive everywhere had significantly greater personal and organisational resources than those who couldn't.
But it's no longer just about existing technologies working as they should. What can individuals now do to not only ensure they can work smoothly from wherever they may be, but to also stay engaged and motivated?
Stay engaged: Optimising your workspaces
Gallup's State of the Global Workplace 2022 Report found that only 14% of professionals in Europe are engaged at work, compared to 33% in North America and 21% globally. Becoming creative with your workspace is a long-proven way of keeping engaged and motivated – but in the Hybrid Working 2.0 era, it's not just about where you're seated.
Optimising workstations as ergonomically as possible is important to ensure your long-term remote working life doesn't have a negative impact on your health. This might include sharing and rotating workstations within your household, creating a moveable set-up that enables you to work comfortably from the kitchen table or garden, or finally upgrading your chair to one that offers better support. Investing in a secure Wi-Fi Hot Spot OR enhancing connectivity around your home with Wi-Fi range extenders – such as D-Link's range of EAGLE AI PRO routers and mesh Wi-Fi extenders - will also ensure your workflow isn't interrupted – wherever your workstation may be.
Stay smart: Invest in your digital future
Whether we like it or not, our lives – both professional and personal – will increasingly play out in a digital world. The pandemic proved to be an inadvertent catalyst in the wholesale adoption of both new and emerging communication, collaboration and document management technologies – followed by a great deal of tech fatigue.
Make technology work for you by investing time to upskill in digital tools that will help counterbalance Zoom/Microsoft Teams/Google Meet (etc.) fatigue. For example, async (pre-recorded) video technologies such as Loom allow you to avoid unnecessary meetings, but still communicate things that are best explained 'face-to-face', as and when you need to.
Now is also the time to maximise your connectivity. When entire households are hybrid working, consistent, seamless connectivity in all rooms becomes critical. Fixing frustrating Wi-Fi blackspots around the house will make more of your home accessible for both work and play. This is where the new wave of Wi-Fi 6 ready routers and mesh extenders can truly enhance device-dense networks – and really make a difference in overcoming the challenges of connectivity drop-outs and dead spots.
Stay secure: Don't become complacent about security
There is a myriad of internet-enabled devices in any one household today. More often than not, convenience, efficiency and speed will determine how and when they are used. Think, for example, how your information syncs across your own devices or how much more you now use your phone to access and pay for goods and services.
With the concept of the office now being so fluid, however, it's more important than ever not to become complacent about security.
Before responding to emails, remember to verify the sender by checking their email address, be wary if you're ever asked for personal information and always check the link is secure (https:// and not http://) before you click. Being cyber-savvy will reduce the risk of you becoming the weakest link in your organisation, and your household.
What's more, give yourself, your employer and your family that added level of security by using a VPN. There's a myriad of options available, either free to download or for a small subscription fee, which D-Link supports across our portfolio of devices. Though these helpful layers can significantly protect your privacy, online activity from being monitored, and can make your online activity safer and more secure no matter where you're working.
After almost three years of working from home in some capacity, it's safe to say that hybrid work has become the new normal. While we don't need to be sold into its benefits, the time has come to invest in its future by working creatively, smarter and more securely.