Hybrid working is here to stay. Charities should start to prepare for long-term remote working and ensure all staff are well-equipped and prepared for the future
Hybrid has become a buzzword in recent months. As social distancing eased and the vaccine programme found its feet, questions arose around post-lockdown life. Would everyone return to the office? Would remote working and flexible working take on increasing prominence? Would hybrid working become a permanent feature of workplace culture?
The questions were answered by employees. Research from YouGov and CIPD, among others, suggests that employees enjoyed huge benefits from working from home, including a better work-life balance, improved wellbeing, reduced costs on travel, and increased motivation.
Looking forward, employees particularly liked the idea of hybrid working. Hybrid seemed to offer an attractive balance, with the reduced costs and minimised stress associated with remote work mixed with the sociability of office life.
The appeal of the hybrid model was stark. A survey by Blackbaud, for example, found that 43% of people said that they would never apply for a job that is entirely office-based. That’s a striking figure, particularly considering that charities unwilling to offer hybrid would lose out on a massive chunk of the talent pool and would inevitable fail to attract the best people.
Charities need to embrace the hybrid. They need to see it as a positive development in workplace culture, which is also beneficial to the employer. The obvious benefits include, among other things, lower operating costs, lower facility costs, and better staff retention.
To embrace hybrid work, charities must take certain steps, such as ensuring all employees have effective and efficient remote systems, shifting to flexible and accessible tech, and prioritising cyber security measures.
In short, preparing for long-term hybrid working means giving employees the right tools. In this article, we will look at how your charity can equip staff for the future.
As our friends at Coopsys recently highlighted in their brilliant webinar, charities need to bridge the digital divide and ensure all employees have access to effective, flexible, and accessible remote systems. Here are some basic rules that every charity should follow.
In many cases, the disparity of software and hardware is a consequence of short-term shifts. Charities had to react quickly to COVID-19 and move to remote working, often without proper scrutiny of internal programmes and processes. Now, charities should think long-term.
Charities should ensure everyone is using the same programmes and platforms, and the same hardware and software, in order to maximise synergy, minimise bureaucracy, smooth out various processes, and generally make working life simpler and more efficient.
People see new developments in the tech world, new platforms offering exciting new functionalities, and start to imagine the huge benefits. But it’s important not to get carried away by the latest trends, which can be expensive, inefficient, or unable to meet your needs.
It’s better to adapt or upgrade tech that you already have, or invest in tech that directly relates to your organisation’s goals. Consider the objectives of your charity, think about what tech remote workers need, and invest sensibly.
There has been a long debate around cloud-based tech vs bespoke tech, particularly in terms of data storage and around various essential platforms, such as CRMs. COVID-19 and the various lockdowns have made a pretty convincing case for cloud-based tech.
Hybrid working is far easier if people can work from any place, at any time. The cloud gives employees that freedom, meaning that they can work from home one day, the office the next, then a conference centre the next, then a coffee shop. Maybe that’s an extreme example, but the cloud allows for that level of flexibility.
The cloud is affordable, too. It only demands a monthly subscription that is easier to justify than the lump sum payments associated with bespoke tech. So, charities can switch quickly and easily, ensuring that remote working is possible regardless of the circumstances.
The success of the cloud is already clear, with a recent survey suggesting that 83% of workers believe that cloud-based tech has increased efficiency while working from home.
So, you may choose to standardise, upgrade old tech and invest sensibly in new tech, and look at cloud-based tech solutions. But do not forget to teach people how to use everything. Do not make adjustments and leave employees and volunteers behind.
Ensure all hybrid workers know exactly how to use the tech they need. Remote working can feel isolating on occasion, especially if employees do not have a place to turn. Offer training sessions, internally or externally, as a group or one-on-one, and provide a space for questions.
If possible, offer forums using communication tools and allow an open discussion (and, hopefully, resolution) of any problems that your employees might face. Encourage a safe, open, and free learning environment where employees can help each other.
Cyber criminals will be happy with the shift to hybrid. Cyber security is a much bigger challenge when employees work from home, away from dedicated IT support. But worry not, as there are plenty of easy steps charities and charity professionals can take.
The first step charities need to take is educating employees. They need to ensure that all employees understand and appreciate the cyber security risks.
Ideally, you charity will offer cyber security training, which should include simple guidance to help charity workers protect remote systems, ensuring hybrid working is secure. Here are some quick tips that charities can pass on to employees to protect against cyber attacks.
Encourage all charity workers to set a strong password. Aim for a minimum of 13 characters, ideally mixing together uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
The National Cyber Security Centre offers some guidance here, suggesting strong passwords should be made from picking three random words, mixed together, such as ‘coffeetrainfish’.
Cyber criminals exploit vulnerabilities in computing systems to hack computers. The vulnerabilities are often removed through updates to software.
So, rather than suffering the potential consequences, encourage employees to set home computers to install updates automatically.
Charities should provide endpoint security programs to all devices and encourage employees to run regular checks. Endpoint security software protects computers against viruses, ransomware, malware, and detects emails or pages that contain malicious links.
It is also a good idea for employees to run a full anti-malware scan regularly when using devices remotely to minimise the chances that devices are already infected with malware.
Important information is lost when employees do not back up data. In an office environment, regular backups ensure that most of the data charities use is safe and retrievable.
At home, however, employees regularly run the risk of losing their work – and losing information that colleagues may depend on. Charities could regularly remind their staff to back up their data, perhaps with a weekly email or just a casual reminder in a meeting sta.
If you’d like to know more or need assistance with any of the issues raised here, do get in touch.