There has been a major shift towards hybrid and remote working, with the majority of employees now preferring an option to work from home. This means employers risk being left behind in the increasingly competitive recruitment market if they cannot offer integrated remote working solutions. Here, I speak to Rory McKeand, CEO at digital transformation partner Technology Services Group (TSG), about the challenges and the benefits of hybrid working, and the ways in which technology can foster positive work cultures.
Gary Drenik: Why is hybrid working so attractive in the current age of business?
Rory McKeand: Hybrid working is a necessity – gone are the old rituals and practices. Simply put, companies need to adapt to hybrid working or risk falling behind. A large part of the attractiveness of hybrid working is down to the level of trust it places between an employee and company, and employees who feel like they are trusted to the job, no matter where they are, achieve greater outcomes for businesses.
According to a recent Prosper Insights & Analytics survey, over half of Gen-Z (52%), Millennials (56%) and Gen-X (52%) would prefer to work for a company that allowed them to work from home rather than in an office. Only 29% of Boomers said they’d prefer to work from home, though almost 58% of surveyed Boomers have now retired.
It shows the huge shift in public opinion towards hybrid working, and it’s certainly been invaluable for TSG. Since we’ve moved to a hybrid working model, we’ve not only been successful in attracting and retaining top talent, but we’ve also had a number of employees return to TSG because we’re able to offer them much more than we were a few years ago – all thanks to hybrid working and the introduction of new technologies allowing us to do so. In addition, we are now seeing top scores for our B Heard surveys, landing us in several of the “Best Companies” lists to work for in the UK.
Drenik: How have cloud systems affected the way teams work together and collaborate?
McKeand: Cloud technologies offer the opportunity for people to communicate and collaborate in ways they couldn’t previously with on-premises systems. If we think about field workers, they are now able to access information quickly, and stay in the know on company activities because of the capabilities of cloud technology.
Everything is in one place, accessible to everyone in the company; this one place for all information enhances productivity and employee satisfaction thanks to being instantly available for them.
Let’s take the example of an application such as Microsoft Word; with Microsoft Teams and SharePoint, a word document can be shared amongst several collaborators, communicated in real time, and worked on at the same time – no matter where everyone is. This is the power of the Microsoft 365 suite. Likewise, cloud-based CRM solutions such as Dynamics 365 are allowing entire teams to be connected with a single solution.
If we think about how this collaboration may have worked previously, it’s laborious in comparison; perhaps there would need to be a meeting with all present, or the versions of the document would consistently change, and get confusing to manage.
Cloud technologies gives teams much more productive outcomes and work just as closely as they can.
Drenik: What are some common issues that businesses face that can be solved using cloud software?
McKeand: When you have a team that relies solely on having to be in one place at a time, and disasters occur, gathering information and data to help resolve the issues can be easier with cloud-based technology.
Let’s say there’s a major cyber security issue – if there was no cloud technology in place, this would mean an engineer would physically have to go on site to address the issue – more time spent getting there, identifying the issue, and calling for relevant help from the team (who may then have to be physically present to address the issue).
The cost of time and headaches for the business is too much at this point. If we look at what we can do with cloud software, it becomes a case of immediately addressing the problem – businesses will be at peace of mind the issue is being looked at right away, versus the anxiety of waiting to see if the on-site engineer can fix the problem.
Eventually, in the future we’ll be able to use cloud software and technology to address more of our common concerns, especially as automation becomes more prevalent and digital literacy is on the rise.
Drenik: What has the evolution of positive work cultures done to impact business/worker productivity?
McKeand: Positive work culture is a critical business function – often nowadays marked as “People & Culture” – it’s as important as any other. Trust is core to any business – if we think about the fact that we hire these people, we are automatically trusting them to do the job we’ve hired them for – but why should they trust us?
Trust comes in many forms; whether that’s trusting that no matter where they are, they’re working as hard as they can, having socials to encourage and build internal relationships or trusting us to be there for them in times of need with mental health support.
In turn, these help to foster positive work cultures; employees are spending a large amount of time working and creating a productive atmosphere at work means we get more out of them because they are willing to work harder for a company that they not only believe in but enjoy working at. This extends to working remotely; offering a work/life balance that fits around their life can create positive mindsets – organization within their personal life means less stress within their professional life.
Drenik: How do you think cloud solutions continue to drive positive changes across the workforce?
McKeand: With more and more people becoming digital literate, cloud solutions will change the average person’s mindset, not only processes and systems. For example, upskilling and the ability to have digital dexterity will start to become a necessity alongside job experience in the workforce. As this evolves, it drives change within the company to continue to adopt modern solutions.
Essentially, everything goes hand in hand – with a culture built on trust in your employees to do the job, and systems that can enable them to access data and work wherever they are, cloud solutions will give the workforce the ability and means to work more effectively and efficiently.
Drenik: Thanks Rory for your time and insights on best-practice use of cloud technology to support integrated hybrid and remote working. The message is clear: with more than half of people now in favour of remote and flexible working options, it’s essential for employers to embrace digital transformation.