The revolution of (hybrid) work

In recent years, almost every assumption about how, where and when we work has been turned upside down. Organizations now have the opportunity to join the next wave of work, where ever-improving technology and a new work culture that promotes creative collaboration and a good work-life balance are central. As we slowly lift the traditional barriers of geography, language and culture, we can create new opportunities and further expand inclusivity. But there is also a risk; organizations that try to return to a 100% office policy will fall short in terms of productivity and talent retention.

From conversations with our global customers, it seems that they are all focused on hybrid working as one of the most important – and challenging – business transitions of our time. That’s why Cisco has conducted two comprehensive studies in the past year: the recently updated Global Hybrid Work Index and the recently published Hybrid Work Maturity Model. These studies shed light on how our work culture must develop further. Because there is no turning back. As the results show, the future requires a flexible working environment where inclusivity is the norm.

The hybrid work maturity model

Managers need to know where their organizations stand in relation to hybrid work. Therefore, Cisco commissioned IDC to develop the Hybrid Work Maturity Model, a so-called maturity curve. The Hybrid Work Maturity Model serves as a framework against which they can compare their trajectories.

The results of the study indicate that there are roughly 4 different levels of hybrid work maturity:

  • Hybrid Work Observers (7 percent): These organizations are beginning to explore different hybrid work models, but still work mostly in the office during regular business hours.
  • Hybrid Work Adopters (47 percent): Experiment with hybrid work models and start investing in technology to make this possible.
  • Hybrid Work Champions (38 percent): See success and improved business results with hybrid work models within individual departments, but have yet to implement them across the organization.
  • Hybrid Work Innovators (8 percent): These organizations have strong enterprise-wide hybrid work policies and have invested in the technologies that support a hybrid-first strategy.

Survey respondents were also asked to rate the maturity of their organizations on four key dimensions. 51 percent cited technology as the main focus, followed by work culture (33%), politics (12%) and facilities (4%). The study revealed several ways in which companies are lagging behind in these categories. For example, only 9 percent of organizations have formulated and implemented long-term enterprise-wide hybrid work policies, and 62 percent of organizations are still in the early stages of transforming their workforce and culture for hybrid work.

But what about the benefits? For respondents, improving productivity (48%) was the biggest concern. This was followed by business agility (39%), improved partner and customer engagement (39%) and improved employee engagement (36%). As organizations progress in their hybrid work maturity, the benefits only increase. For example, Hybrid Work Innovators reported that they are better able to attract and retain top talent and improve regulatory compliance, among other things.

Global Hybrid Work Index

in 2021, Cisco launched the first-ever Global Hybrid Work Index, and this year we unveiled our new results. The Hybrid Work Index survey reveals a lot about employee well-being. For example, 73% of hybrid workers surveyed are happier and more motivated in their role thanks to the ability to work remotely, and 61 percent say their relationships with teammates have become stronger. In addition, the study also found strong evidence of the link between hybrid work and talent retention.

Cisco has long advocated that good technology can support a working environment and a culture where there is no separation between office employees and remote employees. The survey found that 78% percent of managers and 66% of employees believe that with the right technology, virtual collaboration can be achieved without loss of productivity.

The hybrid work environment has introduced several remote endpoints. It is therefore no surprise that security is an important point of attention. The good news is that organizations are responding to this. Both the number of actively secured external devices and the number of daily app approvals have doubled since the shift to hybrid work began.

While these studies show that organizations are beginning to make progress in the hybrid work revolution, they also highlight that there is still a long way to go for many. As an industry, we must not be proud, and we must break down the barriers to hybrid work in relation to technology, work culture and physical spaces. Only then will we unlock the true potential of hybrid work for a future where flexibility and spaciousness are the norm.

By: Sander Ten Hoedt, hybrid work manager at Cisco Holland

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