There has been a large shift towards hybrid and remote working, with most employees now preferring a work from home option. This means that employers risk falling behind in the increasingly competitive hiring market if they cannot offer integrated remote work solutions. Here, I talk to Rory McKeand, CEO of digital transformation partner Technology Services Group (TSG), about the challenges and benefits of hybrid working and the ways technology can foster positive work cultures.
Gary Dranik: Why is hybrid work so attractive in the current business era?
Rory McKee: Hybrid work is a necessity: gone are the old rituals and practices. Simply put, companies must adapt to hybrid working or risk being left behind. Much of the attractiveness of hybrid working comes down to the level of trust it places between an employee and the company, and employees who feel trusted about the job, no matter where they are, perform better for companies.
According to a recent Prosper Insights & Analytics survey, over half of Gen-Z (52%), Millennials (56%) and Gen-X (52%) would rather work for a company that allows them to work from home than than in an office. Only 29% of Boomers said they would prefer to work from home, even though nearly 58% of Boomers surveyed have retired.
It shows the huge shift in public opinion towards hybrid working, and it has certainly been invaluable to TSG. Since moving to a hybrid working model, we have not only been successful in attracting and retaining the best talent, but we have also had a number of employees return to TSG because we are able to offer them so much more than just we were a few years ago, all thanks to hybrid work and the introduction of new technologies that have allowed us to do so. In addition, we are now achieving top scores for our B Heard surveys, landing us on many of the ‘best companies’ to work for in the UK lists.
draining: How have cloud systems affected the way teams work together and collaborate?
mckand: Cloud technologies offer people the opportunity to communicate and collaborate in ways they previously could not with on-premise systems. If we think of field workers, they are now able to quickly access information and stay aware of business activities thanks to the capabilities of cloud technology.
Everything is in one place, accessible to everyone in the company; This one-stop shop for all information improves employee productivity and satisfaction through instant availability.
Let’s take the example of an application like Microsoft Word; with Microsoft Teams and SharePoint, a word document can be shared among multiple collaborators, communicated in real time and worked on simultaneously, regardless of where everyone is. This is the power of the Microsoft 365 suite. Likewise, cloud-based CRM solutions like Dynamics 365 allow entire teams to be connected with one solution.
If we think about how this partnership may have worked out previously, it’s laborious in comparison; perhaps there would need to be a meeting with everyone present, or the versions of the document would constantly change and become confusing to manage.
Cloud technologies make teams much more productive and work as closely together as possible.
draining: What are some common problems businesses face that can be solved using cloud software?
mckand: When you have a team that relies solely on having to be in one place at a time and disaster strikes, gathering information and data to help solve problems can be easier with cloud-based technology.
Suppose there is a major cybersecurity problem: if cloud technology were not present, this would mean that a technician would have to physically go on site to fix the problem: more time spent getting there, identifying the problem and requesting relevant assistance from the team ( who may then need to be physically present to address the issue).
The cost of time and headaches to the business is too much at this point. If we look at what we can do with cloud software, it becomes a case of addressing the problem immediately – companies will have peace of mind that the problem is being investigated immediately, versus the anxiety of waiting to see if the site engineer can fix it.
Eventually, in the future we will be able to use cloud software and technology to address more of our common concerns, especially as automation becomes more widespread and digital literacy is on the rise.
draining: What has the evolution of positive work cultures done to impact company/worker productivity?
mckand: Positive work culture is a critical business function – often today branded as “People and Culture” – it is as important as any other. Trust is fundamental to any business – if we think about the fact that we hire these people, we automatically trust them to do the job we hired them to do – but why should they trust us?
Trust comes in many forms; whether it is trusting that no matter where they are, they are working as hard as possible, having social media 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 foster positive working cultures; employees spend a lot of time working, and creating a productive workplace atmosphere means we get more out of them because they are willing to work harder for a company they not only believe in but love to work for. This extends to remote working; offering a work-life balance that fits their lives can create positive mindsets: organization in their personal life means less stress in their professional life.
draining: How do you think cloud solutions continue to drive positive change across the workforce?
mckand: With more and more people becoming digitally literate, cloud solutions will change the mindset of the average person, not just processes and systems. For example, upskilling and the ability to have digital dexterity will start to become a necessity along with work experience in the workforce. As this evolves, lead the change within the company to continue adopting modern solutions.
In essence, it all goes hand in hand: with a culture of trusting employees to get the job done and systems that can enable them to access data and work from anywhere, cloud solutions will give the workforce the ability and wherewithal to work more effectively and efficiently.
draining: Thanks Rory for your time and insight into best use of cloud technology to support integrated hybrid and remote work. The message is clear: with more than half of people now favoring remote and flexible working options, it’s essential that employers embrace the digital transformation.