Many organisations adopted flexible working practices due to the COVID pandemic, which made employees realise the benefits of working from home and balancing their work and personal lives.
People discovered that adjusting their home workspace to include options like working in the garden, using an outdoor park, or even moving to a holiday home within the UK, resulted in a more pleasant and productive work environment.
As offices reopened, the desire to maintain a balanced work environment led to flexible or fully remote working becoming a standard option for many businesses.
The job market reflects this change, with employees actively seeking positions in hybrid workplaces therefore, to attract the best talent, offering flexible working options is essential for any business.
The Hybrid Holiday
The Hybrid Holiday is a term that formed around the time the flight ban was lifted after COVID-19. Businesses desperately needed to stay open, yet with many eager to travel again, it made sense to put their work calls on divert and take the business away with them.
An extension of flexible working, a hybrid holiday allows employees to incorporate some workdays into their annual leave. This enables them to take a longer holiday while still working a set number of days in between. Alternatively, some may choose to split their days and work in the morning, leaving the afternoon free for relaxation and spending time with loved ones.
How does offering a Hybrid Holiday benefit your business?
Maintaining a healthy mindset in the workplace requires a good work-life balance. Happier employees tend to be more productive, energetic, and dynamic, which can lead to better results for your business.
Every individual has unique work habits and experiences different kinds of pressure. Some prefer to separate their work and social lives, while others find it challenging to disconnect from work entirely, especially when workplace matters are not in order. By providing the option for employees to work remotely, even just for a few days, they can remain in touch with their workload and feel more at ease.
Moreover, customers or suppliers who have a single point of contact can benefit from being able to connect with them even when they are away. This can lead to a better overall experience.
The introduction of hot desking can also benefit your office space. When half of your workforce is based at home, you can reduce the requirement for vast office spaces that are expensive to operate. Instead, you can opt for smaller and more energy-efficient spaces.
What should you be aware of when implementing hybrid holidays?
When considering offering a hybrid holiday option to your staff, there are some important factors to take into consideration.
- Costs: When travelling abroad for business, using your mobile phone can be expensive, especially with the UK's exit from the European Union. Most UK mobile networks are now charging for roaming in Europe again, and the cost of using your phone in other parts of the world is also increasing.
- Cybercrime: Businesses are facing a growing threat from cybercrime. Devices connected to the Local Area Network (LAN) are shielded from external dangers like DDoS or malware attacks. However, when employees connect to an unfamiliar internet connection or network that the company has no control over or security measures in place, the risk level increases significantly. This vulnerability is especially prevalent in portable devices, including laptops, SIM-enabled data devices, and mobile phones, which can create a weak point in your network.
- Human error: Surprisingly one of the bigger risks your company can take with remote access. Accessibility to company information and data is more available when your employees are using their devices in a public place, anyone could be looking over their shoulder, taking notes or even photos of what is on the screen. If an employee loses their laptop or mobile phone in a cab, coffee shop, or airport, the company is at risk of giving access to all of its information and client data to whoever finds it. Some IT departments may be more concerned about an employee losing their device rather than clicking on a dangerous link in an email.
- Connectivity and Functionality: When establishing a remote workspace, connectivity is a crucial aspect to take into account. It is essential to verify whether your employees will have sufficient bandwidth to operate efficiently, just like they would in an office setting. Activities such as video calls and sharing larger files mandate residential broadband connections. Therefore, it is critical to have a strong solution in place that guarantees adequate bandwidth to support all your workplace applications.
How can these issues be avoided?
Firstly, making some simple changes to your telecoms solution can go a long way towards reducing your costs and keeping your workforce fully functional when working remotely:
- Understanding your company's mobile roaming contract can help reduce costs when working outside of the UK. Some networks provide a better deal than others, depending on what country you are using your data in.
- Mobile data usage reporting is a key tool when looking at reducing your mobile spending and regardless of whether your workforce is abroad or in the UK, data usage is an important stat to measure.
- The right data package can help reduce costs. Opting for an unlimited data package offers just one price per device, no matter how much data is consumed. On the flip side of this, if staff members are using Wi-Fi more frequently, you may find that you are paying a substantial amount of data for someone who hardly uses it.
- Partner with a service provider that can give you excellent mobile fleet reporting and the convenience of multiple networks under one contract. By analysing your data, you can identify which network operator can offer the best value for each device, without the hassle of setting up separate agreements.
- Mi-Fi devices allow employees to connect their phones and laptops to business-grade quality 4G/5G connectivity from anywhere in the world.
- Universal Clients such as Evonex Connect offer simultaneous call functionality across various devices. Your staff can receive, transfer and park business calls on their laptop or mobile device, eliminating the need to transport their desk phone wherever they are based.
In addition to this, there are various methods of securing your device when away from the office environment:
- Device encryption is a technology that safeguards the information stored on your device by converting it into an indecipherable code, preventing unauthorised individuals from accessing it. Generally, device encryption is configured to encrypt all data on a device, so users don't need to encrypt specific files or folders individually. Encryption keeps data secure by ensuring that if an attacker gains access to the storage medium in a device, they won't be able to read the files and data stored on it.
- Effective anti-malware/anti-virus software installed on every device. The threat of computer viruses has become increasingly severe and damaging. A virus has the potential to render a computer inoperable, making it crucial to safeguard your business's computer systems with antivirus software.
- VPN creates a tunnel across the internet, connecting your desired device to a safe zone that sits behind a firewall within your company network, effectively protecting any data that is sent through that tunnel, from external forces that may be using the internet to hack into company databases.
- Cloud-based solutions such as Microsoft 365 (MS 365) grant access to a secure remote workspace from any device with internet access, they simply require a username and password. MS 365 gives you the benefits of the increased security of a software giant. Without the need for a VPN and the hardware and running costs of someone to maintain it, this method can also be more cost-effective.
- Microsoft Conditional Access. For an added level of security on MS 365, this function allows you to create your own set of rules or conditions that a user needs to abide by before they are granted access to your remote workspace. Some examples of conditional access policies might include only allowing access to MS 365 resources from a company-issued and managed device, or that mobile phones have separate areas for personal and work apps, eliminating the risk of a company file being sent using a personal WhatsApp account.
- Two-factor (2FA) or Multi-factor (MFA) Authentication requires a user to provide 2 or more methods of identification before they are granted access to your remote workspace. This is a great option for additional security on Cloud-based solutions, where you still have the risk of any staff member using an unsecured internet connection to access their remote desktop with a username and password. Another major benefit of MFA is that it helps reduce the risk of someone accessing accounts they shouldn't have access to, imagine someone were to accidentally enter their credentials into a phishing site, MFA ensures that a threat actor can't use those credentials without the corresponding second or third factor. 2FA is now standard for all users on Evonex, SCG’s Hosted telephony platform.
- Train your staff on the hazards of security breaches and the responsibility they hold when using their devices outside of the company premises. Encourage open discussions around the topic of security and how everyone within the business can help towards the protection of cybercrime. At SCG, we have developed a culture where mistakes are seen as educational opportunities rather than disciplinary circumstances. This has led to colleagues being more inclined to own up to their errors, giving us more time to rectify potential threats.
Let us make things easy for you
Simplify your journey to remote working with SCG. We provide all of the tools you need to offer your staff a hybrid holiday as well as manage a remote or mobile workforce successfully, securely and all in one place:
- Mobile contracts on all 4 UK networks
- Mobile Device Management
- IT Services
- Cloud-based Solutions
- Easy-to-use customer portal for reporting and cost management
- One point of contact and one invoice for all of your contracts
Talk to one of our product specialists about flexible working today on 0800 4700 007 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.