BLOG: Managing a Hybrid Workforce: What Are the Key Concerns?



The transition to remote and hybrid work has had an ongoing and profound impact. It’s not only about where we work but also how work gets done. Users and apps are everywhere. And IT teams face massive challenges due to direct-to-app connectivity.

Recently we asked members of the Foundry/IDG Influencer Network, a community of industry analysts, IT professionals, and journalists, about the biggest concerns organizations face today in managing and supporting a hybrid workforce. While security was a frequently mentioned as a big concern, the Influencers shined a light on a range of issues that organizations need to heed to keep their employees engaged and productive.

Kayne McGladrey (@kaynemcgladrey), security architect at Ascent Solutions LLC, said that providing secure access to corporate data for employees regardless of the location of either the employees or the data is still the biggest concern for companies with a hybrid workforce.

“Solving this is the core of a Zero Trust strategy, he added. “Zero Trust is now the foundation of modern defensive architectures that companies should use to reduce the material risks associated with legitimate threats.”

According to Isaac Sacolick (@nyike), StarCIO leader and author of Digital Trailblazer, business leaders who support the productivity and personal freedoms enabled by hybrid working must continue demonstrating improvements in collaboration and transformation by digitalizing workflows.

“The biggest concern is that as businesses become more dependent on technology and operate with larger data sets, the infrastructure’s performance degrades and security risks materialize,” he continued. “IT leaders must anticipate an exponential increase in utilization and higher cost of downtime, then invest in infrastructure, security, and services in anticipation of growing demand and higher risks.”

Jack Gold (@jckgld), President and Principal Analyst at J.Gold Associates LLC, said the biggest challenge involves trying to extend corporate controls over a diverse set of personally enabled tech (e.g., cable connections, WiFi, and personally owned PCs and tablets).

“Loose management of resources can lead to very costly security breakdowns and data exposure that can not only be costly to remediate but can lead to regulatory penalties and long-term business losses as well,” he added.

‘It’s the people, stupid’

“The biggest concern in my work with hybrid workforce is training employees to optimize the experience both internally and externally,” said Frank Cutitta (@fcutitta), CEO and founder of HealthTech Decisions Lab. “So often employees are taught how to use the technology interfaces but rarely get training on how they enhance their virtual presence and align it with their face-to-face personas.”

“It’s the people, stupid,” concurred Gene De Libero (@GeneDeLibero), Chief Strategy Officer at “Moving value measurement from how much time an employee spends in a chair while in an office to value creation through engagement, collaboration, communication, milestones, and deliverables is essential to building and supporting a hybrid workforce.”

Scott Schober (@ScottBVS), President/CEO at Berkeley Varitronics Systems Inc., said the reliance upon remote communication platforms since the beginning of the pandemic cannot be overstated.

“When in-person communication is removed from the workflow, some individuals thrive while others flounder,” he added. “It’s important for managers to oversee the placement of their workers into the proper environment, and these days that means making sure each worker is carefully selected for the right combination of hybrid work styles. Knowing your employees’ skill sets better than they know themselves is almost as important as keeping an eye on their progress along the way.”

Jason James (@itlinchpin), Chief Information Officer at Net Health, pointed to the increasing importance of “experience parity.”

“It’s crucial to ensure that a form of second-class citizenship doesn't form in a hybrid workforce,” he said. “For example, dynamics should be considered in an organization to ensure that those working on-site aren’t given special treatment or preference compared to those working remotely. This means those voices ‘in the room’ don’t dominate the conversation in hybrid meetings nor should those working in-office be considered more loyal for their location preference. One way to ensure this happens is to have management (including executive management) work remotely from time to time. Having a hybrid culture works best when many within the organization, even executives, support work location flexibility.”

“To be successful in the long term,” said Sridhar Iyengar (@iSridhar), Managing Director of Zoho Europe, hybrid work “demands a rethink of company policies, leadership, and (for some) culture. A flexible and more trust-based approach is necessary to ensure motivation and productivity. The traditional 9-5 working model has been turned on its head, and those who wish to be successful and continue to retain staff should ensure work success is based on meeting mutually agreed upon goals, rather than just being seen to be behind a desk each day.”

And that means plenty of employee motivation will be called for, asserted Nikolay Ganyushkin (LinkedIn: nikolaygan), CEO and co-founder of Acure.

“It’s the most challenging aspect,” he said. “If you move to a hybrid model, the employee has to understand that no one will fully control them.”

Click here to learn how Palo Alto Networks secures today’s hybrid workforce.