83% of IT leaders believe the hybrid workforce is here to stay

The vast majority of business and IT leaders see hybrid work in their future, and 42% think that over half of their workforce will be hybrid post-pandemic, according to a 2021 survey of IT pros.

Hybrid work team meeting

Image: Blue Planet Studio/Shutterstock

The transition to the hybrid workplace, set in motion before COVID-19, kicked into high gear at the dawn of the global pandemic—and has shown no signs of slowing down. The benefits include the obvious—decreased risk of spreading the deadly virus among coworkers and clients—with some unintended benefits as well: Employees report greater satisfaction working from home. If you include the fact that remote work can benefit employees as well, by reducing overhead, travel expenses and increasing productivity, it seems clear that the hybrid work model has a long-lasting appeal.

SEE: Hybrid work policy (TechRepublic Premium)

On Wednesday, a Hybrid Work Global Survey released by Riverbed and Aternity highlighted this fact. According to a survey of 1,500 IT and business leaders across the globe, 83% believe that at least 25% of their workplace will remain hybrid post-pandemic, up from only 30% in 2020. And nearly half (42%) think that the majority of the workplace will be hybrid after COVID-19.

The survey looks deeper into the reasons for these findings and why IT leaders should pay attention. According to the results, a main benefit of hybrid work (according to 94% of respondents) is that the hybrid model can be a boon for attracting talent and remaining competitive; and 84% of those surveyed expect that the work model, broadly, will have a positive impact on society.

How to achieve a successful hybrid work model? According to the survey, organizations should pay attention to human and tech barriers. These include:

  1. Employee motivation and well-being (35%)
  2. Technology disruptions (32%)
  3. Poor home/remote network performance (31%)
  4. Collaboration and virtual relationship building (31%)
  5. Expanded security risks (31%)

Additionally, end-to-end visibility and cybersecurity should be a top priority: 57% of respondents see this is an even bigger challenge in the hybrid workplace. A whopping 93% of IT and business leaders say full end-to-end is a critical piece of their cybersecurity strategy, and 64% see a cybersecurity breach caused by lapses in this area as "seriously disruptive or business destroying."

According to IT leaders, here are the top five challenges to monitoring security:

  1. Multiple tools that give conflicting data, delaying root cause analysis and issue resolution (42%)
  2. Lack of visibility into the availability, performance and usage of cloud resources (37%)
  3. Too much data and not enough context or actionable insight (35%)
  4. Lack of unified visibility across the entire technology infrastructure (34%)
  5. Data is not accessible or usable by all who need it (33%)

Technology investments over the next 12 to 18 months, according to IT leaders, include everything from better visibility of network and application performance (38%) to Investing in application or network acceleration solutions (37%) to investing in end-user experience and digital experience monitoring solutions (35%).

When networks and apps work, so does business, according to respondents. The benefits include saving time and money (38%); increased ability to offer critical services to employees and customers (35%); enabling hybrid work models (32%); decreasing downtime (31%); spurring innovation (29%); and boosting collaboration (28%).

By contrast, underinvesting can lead to more stress (37%); decreased motivation (33%); a drop in productivity (33%); less collaboration among co-workers (32%); and lower work-life balance (30%).

SEE: The future of work: Tools and strategies for the digital workplace (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

"We've reached that critical point in time when a high-performing hybrid workplace is required for organizations to push to the next level of employee and customer satisfaction and sustainable financial success," said Dan Smoot, president and CEO of Riverbed | Aternity. 

Although the hybrid model seems to be the way of the future, not all employees are prepared—less than a third (32%) see themselves as fully prepared for the new model. And the hybrid work model is not without challenges.As TechRepublic has previously reported, some employees who stay at home could face negative repercussions, creating a two-tiered hierarchy at the office. The current survey highlights this point—88% of respondents are worried about "digital disparity between in-office and remote employees."

Still, even those who are currently unprepared to offer a seamless hybrid work environment say they plan to go this route—89% of IT leaders expect to increase investment in technology that can support their hybrid employees over the next year.

"What's very clear is that to gain the maximum benefits from hybrid work, organizations must invest in technologies to modernize their IT environments, and underinvesting can have severe consequences," Smoot cautioned.

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