As the impact of Covid-19 subsides, businesses and workers are debating what their long term working models should be. Whether it be on social media or around workplace water coolers, this topic generates passionate argument. Some believe hybrid working has boosted productivity and helped businesses save money. Others say the offices enables collaboration, ensures high productivity and delivers better morale.

Dell Technologies Jennifer Saavedra, chief human resources officer, has said: “We believe work is an outcome, not a time or place. We don’t believe one approach works for all roles, teams, or individuals, so there’s no room for broad mandates.”

But not all businesses share this outlook, with some companies taking steps to bring their workforce back into the office.

Many employers believe that remote working damages corporate culture and disadvantages employees. According to one survey, approximately two-thirds of managers believe full-time remote work is detrimental to careers.

Employees appreciate the benefits of some office working. Indeed, 30.9% of remote workers have reported feeling loneliness and isolation. For others, the promised benefits of a better work-life balance simply did not materialise.

Hybrid working is a happy medium between the office-centric world of the past, and the remote-working mitigations of lockdowns. For businesses which choose not to adapt, there is a risk that they will miss out on the best talent. People want to work in a more flexible way, with more than four in five workers reporting that they wish to continue with hybrid approaches.

So, how can organisations overcome hybrid working concerns? There are three key challenges.

1. Maintaining corporate culture

For some businesses, the best way to buttress corporate culture is to bring everyone back into the office. They believe that doing so builds a true sense of connection and a common purpose.

In fact, corporate culture can thrive in hybrid environments, provided companies adapt. Managing a distributed culture requires mindful and active upkeep. This includes a focus on building the “soft” links between people who may not see each other in person as often.

It also means ensuring that inclusivity is fostered regardless of where people work. There are many tactics that can be used to build culture and a sense of belonging in hybrid workforces including mentoring programs, employee resource groups, and events to help bring everyone together.

Dell Technologies, which has operated a hybrid model for over 12 years, has found that a strong organisational structure and appropriate mechanisms to make employees feel recognised helps maintain a strong culture. According to the company’s recent staff survey, 90% of its employees believe that everyone in the company can learn new skills and benefit from a culture that enables learning. Dell operates a “high-performing” culture, and it offers a broad range of virtual learning programmes so that employees can grow and achieve their career goals regardless of location.

2. Maintaining productivity and collaboration

Another common misperception is that hybrid working damages productivity. Employers worry that employees working at home may struggle to access corporate resources or suffer from IT challenges that slow delivery.

In fact, most of these issues can be overcome with the right tools. Take remote connectivity as a case in point. Modern technologies such as Dell Technologies’ APEX for VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) enable employees to run their applications or full desktop anywhere, and on any device, to boost productivity and collaboration.

The user experience is non-negotiable when considering a hybrid productivity solution. Research from VMware and Forrester Consulting found that the digital user experience (DEX) has become a top priority for 75% of IT decision makers since the rise of anywhere working.

According to the research, investing in positive experiences improves results by promoting employee engagement and business resiliency. VMware’s own Digital Employee Experience solution measures workplace experience, analyses data, and helps provide a high-level experience which ensures hybrid working delivers the required productivity.

3. Maintaining cybersecurity

The rise of remote work challenges traditional security priorities, with employees accessing data from many locations. Businesses need visibility across their entire estate, but that estate is now a distributed enterprise with no clear perimeter and constantly changing dynamics.

However, by taking a comprehensive approach to cybersecurity, organisations can empower their employees to work flexibly while also protecting critical systems and data. For Dell Technologies, that means organisations should take a zero -trust approach to security where there is no implicit trust given to users based solely on their network location or device ownership.

Meanwhile, VMware also stresses the importance of zero-trust networking in hybrid environments. Its VMware Secure Access solution enables enterprises to customise and fine-tune per-client application policies and add additional authentication where needed. Users connect via the nearest VMware SD-WAN (software-defined wide-area network), which ensures low latency and high performance.

According to research from Dell Technologies, VMware, and Intel, 56% of organisations that have implemented hybrid work report increased employee satisfaction and wellbeing because of working more flexibly. That’s good news for employees – and for employers who are better able to hire and retain staff. Hybrid working will be a key differentiator for businesses, and companies should act now to prepare their workers and systems.

Click here for more insights and research from Dell Technologies on the future of hybrid working. You can also learn more about the benefits and challenges of remote working in this resource from VMware.