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Return to Office and the Future of Hybrid Work

The pandemic has radically changed how and where we work, giving businesses and employees the latitude to redefine the modern workplace as they plan their return to the office. Planning a successful return to the office requires businesses to understand employee expectations, develop a plan that addresses those needs, and ensure they have flexible technologies that support the unique demands of the hybrid workplace.

Return to Office – Employee vs. Leadership Perspectives

Microsoft’s Work Trend Index 2022 examined what a return to the office looks like from both the worker and employer perspectives. The study found that 50% of leaders say their company does or plans to require a full-time return to the office. However, this is in stark contrast to the 52% of respondents who stated they are considering moving to hybrid or remote work this year.

Due largely to the pandemic, employees’ priorities have shifted and maintaining flexibility and a healthy work-life balance is now of the utmost importance to many workers. The divergence in expectations between leadership and employees has led many workers to draw a line in the sand when it comes to required full-time in-person work. In the same report, Microsoft found that 52% of Gen Z and Millennials are considering changing employers in 2022. With the desire for workplace flexibility so evident, many business leaders have taken note and developed return-to-office (RTO) strategies that will help them retain and attract talent.

The Hybrid Future

A powerful compromise between the two sides is the hybrid model. This strategy grants leadership the facetime needed to build company culture and foster collaboration while offering the flexibility their workforce demands. Industry leaders like Microsoft and Google have publicly announced their return-to-office dates in conjunction with the hybrid work models they will use going forward. Both companies plan to allow certain roles to remain fully remote, while others will be asked to return to the office on a part-time basis with essential positions remaining in-person full-time.

The hybrid approach requires leadership to be deliberate when creating synchronous work. Building inclusive hybrid meetings and scheduling them on days when hybrid workers are in the office allows teams the opportunity to maximize collaboration and re-establish a strong company culture. Offering adaptable options like on-demand recordings for those who cannot attend will further the reach of communications and keep goals better aligned. The surge in live and on-demand video usage during the pandemic will continue to play a critical role in connecting the hybrid office. Still organizations must equip themselves with technologies that enable fast and efficient communication with all employees regardless of their location.

A Flexible Workforce Needs a Flexible Network

Since the beginning of the pandemic, there’s been a 252% increase in weekly time spent in meetings for the average Microsoft Teams user. In the past two years, it’s become apparent that the real-time communication and collaboration live video offers is essential to modern businesses. Video is a bandwidth-heavy medium, and existing corporate networks may be unable to support the increased load as employees return to the office. Many organizations have learned this the hard way after initiating their RTO plans. Even with only a fraction of their workforce back in the office, many businesses have discovered that their networks are not equipped to handle the influx of live and on-demand video being consumed on site.

Network spikes can occur when a small number of people are streaming an event or viewing it on-demand in-office, leading to poor user experience and decreased engagement, while impacting critical business applications running on the same network.

With the hybrid model, businesses must ensure their network is prepared to support a dispersed workforce’s communication and collaboration needs. Optimizing networks for video with an enterprise content delivery network (ECDN) like Kollective ensures hybrid workers are connected no matter where they are working.

Meet the RTO Protection Plan

Kollective’s Edge Accelerator platform offers businesses the flexibility and confidence to meet the demands of the hybrid workplace. With three intelligent delivery solutions – Browser-Based Peering, Agent-Based Peering, and Edgecache – Kollective’s Complete Coverage tackles all of the complex network challenges of hybrid work environments, including:

  • Remote offices
  • Virtual Private Networks (VPN)
  • Firewalled or backhauled locations (e.g., China)
  • Hard-to-reach users
  • Zero Trust Networks

Prepare your network for the return-to-office and hybrid work today with a free trial of Kollective’s Browser-Based Peering solution.

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