Despite misgivings towards hybrid working by certain business leaders as the pandemic loosened its hold, the business world seems in consensus that a hybrid future is required to stay competitive. But while most companies now offer remote working, to really deliver a true hybrid working experience, specific skillsets are needed to manage a dispersed workforce effectively and the infrastructure and tools that support it.
The question is – what are these specific skillsets, and will businesses need to create new, specialist roles to effectively manage, and ultimately retain, talent?
We gathered up our panel of experts – Nick Cross, vice president of networking and security sales, VMware EMEA, Ralf Gegg, vice president of end user computing sales, VMware EMEA and David White, director of security solution engineering, VMware EMEA – to talk about their responses to the question in more detail for the fourth episode of our new content series ‘Convergence’.
For the majority of businesses, to deliver a successful hybrid working environment for their employees will require modernizing certain processes and infrastructure, as discussed in previous episodes. We know that kind of modernization isn’t just a case of plug and play but requires certain skills to ensure those processes and infrastructure provide the flexible, efficient and collaborative experience that people expect from a hybrid approach. The issue is that 75% of organisations in UK&I are concerned that a lack of available skills will impact the speed at which their organisation moves to the latest enterprise technologies.
But what are these skills?
For Ralf, an important part of the new skills needed is an adjustment in how managers manage. With a hybrid workforce, it’s important to ensure that discussions with teams are not just business related – “building trust between employee and manager requires more openness”. And it’s this openness that helps teams build relationships whether they see each other in person or remotely.
This is something that Nick has experienced in practice. “I was in Munich [recently] visiting my team who I either haven’t seen in two years or met in person since they joined the company. What was interesting was that we actually knew each other relatively well because we’d had so much dialogue over video call, some of which was aimed at understanding what motivates each other”.
The importance of face-to-face time
While connections can be built over video call, all three panelists agreed that face-to-face interactions remain a vital part of building a solid team dynamic. As David said, “the feedback I get from my teams is that they want face-to-face meetings. They enjoy the social interaction and camaraderie that comes with it”. He also believes its crucial to helping accelerate not just collaboration and team ethos but also innovation as people naturally have longer to chat in person.
This was an important point for Ralf. For him, “you can cover individual topics very well in a remote environment. But it becomes difficult to keep peoples’ attention for longer over video calls versus in-person interactions”. For those meetings that need to happen quickly, a remote setting is great. There are, however, other situations where deeper discussions are needed. That could be between members of the same team or even between teams. For example, our recent research found that 34% of decision makers reported their organisations’ teams are not effectively collaborating or taking strides to strengthen relationships between security and development teams. Could a series of face-to-face meetings make the difference between how these two teams work together?
On the subject of security, it’s well known within the industry that there is a shortage of around three million cyber security professionals who will be more required than ever in the hybrid working environment. To help plug the gap, companies need to drive more education, right from the outset, through school. It’s positive to see cyber security courses now available at universities.
Creating the right environment for change
So, how do companies create the environments and opportunities for these new skills to flourish? Ralf believes that as with any change it has to start at the top of the company, with the leadership. It’s not just about deciding to introduce more collaboration and better security. It’s about creating an environment which enables those changes to be successful.
Companies also need to invest in developing talent internally as well as creating a conveyor belt of skills from higher education into the business world, through internships like the one VMware has created. Leadership needs to build organisations that bring in talent early in their career and let them try more and different roles and develop to more senior roles quickly.
After two years of putting in place temporary solutions to remote working, we are now at the start of developing the strategies behind a future that will celebrate a hybrid approach to work. Getting the right skills in place will be the difference between these strategies becoming successful or failing to make the cut.
To listen to the conversation in full and future episodes of the ‘Convergence’ content series visit your chosen podcast player. Next up in the series, we will be discussing the reality of data sovereignty and the importance or otherwise of knowing exactly where your organisation’s data is and who has access to it.