From norming to performing: Getting hybrid work into shape for 2022

Avatar for Rudy TibuniBy Rudy Tibuni|Jan 18, 2022|7:30 am CST

In 2020, companies were trying to figure out how to work from home.

In 2021, remote work became the new normal.

For 2022, hybrid work models need to perform for IT organizations as the new permanent way of doing business.

Ask psychologist Bruce W. Tuckman to summarize this trend, and he would quickly recall the developmental stages of: “Storming, Norming, Performing.” Tuckman’s framework for team development was originally published in 1965 and his memorable phrase still holds true, as it cleverly describes the tactical and emotional path IT teams take in the quest to achieve high performance for remote and hybrid work.

While this developmental journey is not always a linear process, it’s safe to say that most IT teams are somewhere between the “norming” and “performing” stages. Telecommuting approaches must now become simple, sustainable, and cost-effective for the long term. So, how do you do that? What key considerations and challenges that must be overcome before a work-from-anywhere strategy can be considered high performance? Here’s what IT leaders should ask themselves as they attempt to move their hybrid work models from norming to performing.

How many applications and services do you need to collaborate from anywhere?

Hybrid work works well for employees as well as the bottom line, so long as the right tools and technologies are in place. At the top of the requirements list is Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) applications. Almost every organization is now using some sort of UCaaS solution like Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex, Google Workspace, Zoom, or Slack. This is the future of work, with Metrigy predicting that 70% of organizations will be using UCaaS solutions by 2023.

But, the key is to think about the complexity of your collaboration tools.

How many applications, solutions, and partners are required to achieve remote collaboration? Do your toolsets combine communication and collaboration capabilities including calling, chat, presence, and video conferencing into a single, cloud-based platform that can be accessed anytime, anywhere? How can you simplify collaboration and the management of it for your IT team?

It may help to perform an inventory of your current UCaaS apps to understand how many you have running and which are redundant. This should include those implemented formally by IT as well as those installed via shadow IT (a.k.a. non-sanctioned apps). There are major cost and security impacts of this redundancy. If one or more teams have installed a UCaaS app of their own on a company’s IT assets without the IT team’s knowledge, that will increase the attack surface hackers can use to access corporate IT systems. Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) solutions can help with this.

Do your users have problems with VoIP and video conferencing? Do they receive high-quality application experiences regardless of where they are and what device they’re using?

This is where high-performance hybrid work exceeds the need for “just” UCaaS. No matter how great a UCaaS solution you deploy, the performance of your communication services are dependent on your network. Traditional WAN architectures that organizations have long relied on cannot adequately support today’s agile, cloud-powered applications and services.

Protect and preserve performance with SD-WAN

Organizations need top-tier reliability, consistent performance, and high throughput across the network and the cloud in order to support digital services. They also need to be able to actively protect and preserve the performance of these apps with a high degree of application performance insights. For this reason, many IT leaders pair SD-WAN with their UCaaS applications and also bundle SD-WAN with all their cloud-based services. SD-WAN provides the high-quality application experiences users need by intelligently steering real-time application traffic. This ensures that voice, video conferencing, and information services are delivered with acceptable performance by mitigating packet loss, latency, and jitter.

If you operate internationally and you struggle to deliver the same level of service across the globe, consider this: Most collaboration solutions don’t come pre-packaged with high-performance network services reaching every major continent. Ensure your team in APAC communicates seamlessly with those in the U.S. by looking for an UC + SD-WAN solution that is built for global delivery and service continuity. In this way, the solution should offer SLAs that guarantee performance on the call platform, the cloud services platform, and the network.

How are you addressing connectivity and security for work-from-anywhere?

There is a large swath of tools to consider when ensuring remote network access and security for the distributed workforce. In addition to those already mentioned, think about solutions like Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA)Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR), as well as Secure Web Gateway (SWG) and Firewall-as-a-Service (FWaaS).

Each of these technologies play a crucial role for making hybrid work really work by protecting data, users, and endpoint devices from attacks and malicious activities. EDR and ZTNA are of particular importance with the rise of work-from-home. These technologies dramatically improve security by protecting devices and limiting access rights based on user identity. Check out this blog to learn more about each of these technologies in detail.

Need to simplify the deployment of multiple network and security technologies? Look into a Secure Access Service Edge, or SASE, solution. Pulling more tools into one toolbox, SASE combines SD-WAN with lots of security functions mentioned above and puts them all in one platform. Now, just add on UCaaS and EDR and you’ve got yourself a fully-loaded solution for effective hybrid work.

IT must give these questions serious consideration if they wish to create an effective hybrid work plan in 2022.

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