• Managing a hybrid workforce with the cloud

The nature of work has changed forever. As the government lifts restrictions, employees reluctant to venture into the office are presenting executives with new challenges. Now, you must manage people and data spread across dozens of locations, which raises security and trust issues. This article explains how the cloud can help.

After months of lockdown, people have become used to working from home. It's safer, because offices are now riskier places to work. It's also more productive, because people can get more done without cumbersome commutes.

There's also another advantage: work-life balance. People working from home can take advantage of flexible hours, enabling them to engage with their families and work at times that make sense for them. That improves worker morale.

This will create a hybrid workforce, with employees that only come into work some of the time, and with some that rarely do so.

Businesses that manage this transition could reap the rewards. Smaller offices could cut costs, and happier workers could improve talent retention. Handle this transition properly and it could be an all-round win.

Transitioning to a hybrid workforce takes some planning, though. The software and tools that supported an office-based workforce might not work for remote employees. On-premises applications and desktop PCs won't migrate well to a worker's home. Neither will company data, which must be protected at all costs. A dishonest housemate or a burglar could compromise a device and its sensitive information, putting the business at risk.

There's another problem, too. Executives used to 'line-of-sight' management might feel a loss of control. A lack of visibility might leave them guessing about worker activities and worrying that they aren't working. How can they balance trust with the need to get the job done?

How the cloud supports a hybrid workforce

Cloud technology solves both of these problems. It takes applications and data that lived only on the desktop and extends them to the cloud. Microsoft 365 gives employees the best of both worlds. It lets them create and edit files using world-class applications on their own computers, but keeps that data in Microsoft's Azure cloud so that there's no risk of critical information escaping from an unmanaged laptop.

The cloud can also bring those laptops, tablets, and other mobile devices under the company's control wherever they are. It lets administrators protect any device, including iOS, Android, Windows, and macOS machines, enabling them to set access policies for data, applications, and networks. It even handles devices you don't own so that employees can use their own machines at home to work on company data.

A new kind of collaboration in the cloud

Thanks to the cloud, executives needn't worry about losing touch with employees. Microsoft 365 features a range of collaborative tools, including voice communication and group video conferencing, group communication channels, task management, and file sharing.

This gives you a powerful collaboration solution that supports a hybrid workforce while keeping jobs on track. You can check in regularly with your team in face-to-face meetings, even using virtual whiteboards to map out ideas or edit files online together in real time. In between meetings, you can exchange messages in group chat, assign tasks to team members, and watch as employees update those tasks in real time.

So a hybrid workforce doesn't have to be a disconnected one. In fact, thanks to the power of the cloud you might find that the workforce of the future is more connected, protected, and accountable than it ever was in the office.