Best Practice

Flexibility creates speed

12.05.2022

Technologies and infrastructure are usually the first areas to be addressed by companies during the transformation to hybrid work. But what exactly do they need? Every company must assess its current position and where it wants to be in the future.  

Franziska wants to continue the hybrid work model. Three days in the office and two days working from home - the ideal scenario. At the office, she just has to start her laptop and all applications are instantly available. At home or on the road, she first has to dial in with a VPN, and even then, some services (e.g. telephony) are not available. Particularly during core working hours, the connection is lost or access to the required data is very slow. And so, Franziska has to start from scratch.  

This example shows that often, the failure of hybrid work comes down to details. While everything works in principle, it only really works smoothly in the office. Companies wishing to provide hybrid workplaces in the future have to rethink their emergency solutions. What they need is an optimized infrastructure to increase employee satisfaction and loyalty to the company. Furthermore, a reliable infrastructure also ensures productivity. 

Finding the right solutions

The acceptance and successful use of hybrid work depends on the right IT tools and systems. The IT infrastructure provides these tools and systems, thereby creating the foundation for large parts of the New Work model. This means that companies must have the required “Technical Readiness” in every phase of the transformation.  

In fact, New Work places high demands on the infrastructure. Instead of offering a focal point that is prescribed by the requirement to work from home or at the office, the new world of work is characterized by its dynamic nature. Infrastructures must be flexible, resistant, and cost-efficient - something that only works with the use of Cloud services. 

Companies find themselves at very different starting points in this regard. Some companies first have to replace their quickly implemented emergency solutions with completely new technologies. Others have already selected the right technology but have only been able to implement the basic functions. Often, security, device management and governance are not given much thought initially. However, they must ensure that the tools and systems are appropriately protected for the New Work environment, because the conventional paradigms (such as security purely for the internal network) no longer apply - particularly due to the increased use of Cloud services. 

Only a minority of companies have already completed these tasks. But New Work goes even further: Complex integrations are the next step. For example, existing technical applications are supposed to be accessible from outside the office and using personal devices; newly developed apps are supposed to integrate frontline workers (i.e., employees) into production, shops, logistics or services; or the IT Target Operating Model must be adjusted to the new infrastructure from the Cloud. 

The main questions

In order to take the next step towards preparing for New Work, the IT organization must change from a reactive, static mode to a flexible service orientation that is aligned to the needs of users. It starts with an assessment of the status quo: Is the company a New Work novice, an advanced user, or a pioneer?  

New Work novices are at the beginning of the transformation process. Their IT infrastructure requires modernization and frequently an entire paradigm shift. For them, the main question is how they can ensure simple, site-independent, and secure collaboration for the employees in the office (information workers). 

In companies that are an advanced stage, the process to transform their IT structure is already underway. Their focus is on the comprehensive inclusion of frontline workers, and they are taking the first steps towards a platform for all applications. Their main question is: How do I integrate the entire company and how can I best protect my data? 

Pioneers have already mastered the crucial transition milestones and are now striving for a holistic, customized approach that is designed to turn hybrid work into an experience for their employees. They should ask themselves which services they can offer the business to support operating activities, such as the integration of a Contact Center, the management of the company and individual projects through OKR and PM Tools (Project), or individual apps such as those for frontline workers. There is also the question of how the IT department can adjust to the new infrastructure requirements at an organizational level. 

Regardless of the level of maturity, usually companies must think about how they can manage the risks, and what they can allow. What is the objective in the medium and long term, and does the general security approach have to be reconsidered? 

An individual approach

The current situation and the required journey differ from company to company. For this reason, the starting situation, the challenges, and the solutions must be identified for each specific case. Having said that, there are a number of focal points that are frequently identified (depending on the level of maturity). 

 

New Work novices

After the technology has been selected, the new Cloud platform must be connected to existing systems so the basic collaboration functions can be enabled. Here, the focus is mainly on information workers. In this context, companies should pay attention to the following key issues: identity synchronization in the Cloud, basic security such as multi-factor authentication, basic collaboration for documents through FileSharing solutions such as OneDrive, and basic communication per chat or client-to-client telephony such as MS Teams. It is also important that the consent of the Works Council and the data protection officer is obtained.   

Advanced organizations

Here, the focus is on expanding the collaboration tools to frontline workers. In terms of security, this often involves the development and implementation of zero trust concepts. True to the motto “Trust No One,” no device, user or service is trusted, inside or outside of the company. All traffic is checked, and all users or services have to authenticate themselves. In terms of communication, the focus is on advanced functions such as telephony and meeting room equipment (e.g., MS Teams Rooms), and on mobile solutions based on iOS and Android in the case of device management. 

Pioneers

In the area of security, activities tend to concentrate on information protection, eDiscovery, and Threat Hunting. Apps and Line of Business tools such as PowerBI are used to enable the development and provision of technical applications such as Azure AD App Proxy. Rooms can be booked using standardized software solutions such as the Office Wizard, for example. Advanced Business Application Support includes Device Management for Frontline Worker, PCs and Contact Center Solutions based on Microsoft Teams. Organizational measures in the IT department tend to focus on adapting the Operation Model to the Cloud. 

Conclusion

The IT Infrastructure is an enabler of New Work. Pro-active action along individually identified measures can offer great additional value for New Work projects - namely speed. That is because departments and HR really value high speed and flexibility. The combination of optimum infrastructure and the right organizational measures increases not just the long-term performance of the IT organization, but also the financial success of the company.  

Authors

Christian Koch

Christian Koch

Manager Collaboration & Unified Communication

Stefan-Haffner_300x170.jpg

Stefan Haffner

Director Cyber Security

Dominik Daumann

Dominik Daumann

Account Manager & Co-Lead Future IT

Additional links

IT Strategy
New Work​​​​​​​