Image: GetApp

It’s pretty clear that hybrid work is here to stay, for the foreseeable future, anyway, and yet, only 31% of small businesses are shipping laptops to at least some employees, according to a new report.

The Tech at Work survey from GetApp, part of Gartner Digital Markets, also found that one in four workers used their personal laptop for work before the pandemic. As remote work continues, this puts an organization at higher risk for cybersecurity threats, according to the findings.

The report details tech challenges in a hybrid work environment and what employees expect from their company’s tech setup. It makes the case for IT leaders to step up to help future-proof their organizations and be a strategic partner.

SEE: Hybrid Work Policy (TechRepublic Premium)

With the new model of work, being remote sometimes comes with a hefty price tag. Some 88% of respondents said they believe employers should be responsible for covering at least some costs associated with working from home, but nearly half of workers (48%) have spent anywhere from $100 to $500 of their own money on their remote workspace.

This recent study of small business workers also found that 67% of hybrid worker respondents said having visibility into the schedule of colleagues working on-site would have a moderate to strong influence on their decision to work at the office on particular days.

That said, an ineffective scheduling process for on-site versus remote workdays was rated as the top challenge of a hybrid work model, according to the report.

IT can partner with HR to help select tools for hybrid work

IT leaders can be strategic partners by helping design an effective and healthy hybrid work culture, and not just be “the IT crowd,” said Olivia Montgomery, senior content analyst at GetApp.

“A common thread throughout the survey results was addressing how IT can partner with HR to help solve some challenges of the hybrid work model,” Montgomery said. “This can be done by selecting tools and establishing processes that support not only the technical needs of employees but also impact their job satisfaction.”

There was an expectation that having an overwhelming number of software tools would be a major challenge for hybrid workers, she noted. “However, it was surprising to find that an ineffective scheduling process for remote versus on-site days was cited as the top challenge of hybrid work. This challenge may seem like one for HR departments or people managers to take on, but IT leaders can really shine here by designing an effective scheduling solution.”

Consider a remote work stipend

The study results also yielded surprisingly good news: The general satisfaction reported by employees in the quality of their IT resources, Montgomery added. “From company-issued hardware to software access management, IT teams are providing high value, and it’s great to see that recognized by employees—especially when it can be easier to focus on negative feedback when shared anonymously.”

SEE: Hybrid work could create a two-tiered “class” system for employees, according to expert (TechRepublic)

The survey findings also reinforced that organizations were not ready for the swift shift from office to remote work, given the low number of employees who had a work laptop prior to the pandemic (38%) and that at that time, one in four were using their personal laptops for work, Montgomery said.

“Now, it’s safe to say most people who could work from home do and want to continue doing so,” she said. “Therefore, hybrid work is likely going to be the dominant working model going forward. This means that IT leaders need to design their processes to enable their business to use any mix of in-office and remote work models they choose with minimal disruption if swift workplace changes are needed again.”

The GetApp study recommends that organizations consider offering a remote work stipend as a “rather low-risk but high-reward way in which HR can support a hybrid workforce that’s ready to shift locations in the case of a new crisis.”

A one-time stipend of $250 per employee, regardless of work location would be “an excellent way to show your employees that they are valued and trusted,” the report suggested.

GetApp conducted the Tech at Work Survey in July 2021 among 575 U.S.-based workers at small businesses with at least partially hybrid work models. Respondents were screened for employment status (full- and part-time employment) and the number of employees at their company (2-500), the company said.