Employee personas are the key to successful remote working

Tom Hulscher at Insight describes how organisations need to understand differences between individual employees if they are to be successful in managing the change to hybrid working

As the dust slowly settles on the pandemic, it’s clear that most employees are keen for hybrid working to become the norm. Yet there is still uncertainty among employers. After all, even if organisations rapidly adopted new ways of working during the pandemic, in the majority of cases adopting remote working wasn’t a planned process.

Instead, organisations had to adapt rapidly. In many cases, sticking plasters were put in place, rather than solutions for the long term. IT departments now need to turn what was a rapid transformation into long-term success.

So how can organisations make hybrid working work?

Putting people before technology

Any hybrid-working strategy needs to start with the people. Before investing in technology, organisations have to take time to analyse their employees’ working styles and understand the different personas in play.

However the organisation defines these, knowing the difference between  a ‘desk centric’, a ‘corridor warrior’ and a ‘remote worker’ will ensure organisations can create a hybrid working experience that meets everyone’s needs.

When the organisation understands its employees’ needs, and how hybrid working will change the business, it can put the right technology in place for the job. Even organisations that implemented technology to facilitate remote working last year won’t necessarily have all the right tools and infrastructure to support a full hybrid model.

For instance, with connectivity and collaboration key, IT needs to ensure that all employee personas have the tools they need. At the same time, the organisation should not be over-spending on multiple tools that all perform the same task and create a fragmented user experience. Choosing the right cloud-based collaboration tools will be essential to providing a hub that brings together chat, meetings, calling, devices, apps, and any other solutions in one place.

Thinking about governance

With employees working from multiple locations and having access to corporate data, the organisation needs to ensure that the right governance is in place. Data must be available, usable, consistent and, most importantly, secure.

To begin with, organisations must map out potential data governance issues and understand how to address them at a technical and business level. For instance, employee contracts and best practices will have to be updated to give clear guidance around data sharing and use. There is a need to ensure that employees understand and follow this guidance.

At the same time, organisations need to ensure that cyber-security tools and processes are up to the task. For example, with employees accessing data from different locations and using different devices, the attack surface has increased. This opens the organisation up to greater security risks. The traditional approach to maximising security, keeping data in one place and restricting access, may no longer be appropriate.

There is no one-size fits all solution. Organisations needs to consider every aspect of security and ensure it fits all different employee personas. For instance, a secure VPN might enable employees to work from their home office. But will it support every employee device? Will some personas need extra measures in place due to the way they work or the data they handle? And how will security training requirements vary from persona to persona?

Something to shout about

Even for employees in favour of hybrid working, the significant change this entails can still seem daunting. Therefore, organisations must also create awareness of the need for the change, and the benefits it will bring to individuals.

Understanding employee personas will make it easier to clearly communicate how the strategy will make their work and home lives easier – from improving collaboration and productivity, to allowing more flexible working.

This knowledge will also help identify those employees who are the most tech-savvy and enthusiastic about adopting new technology. Recruiting these individuals to educate and enthuse their colleagues about the switch to hybrid working will help encourage adoption.

Similarly, understanding personas will allow the organisation to offer clear guidance on the technology that is being implemented and how to use it in the different circumstances relevant to the different personas.

Finally, change is not instant. It needs to be sustained. Organisations need to evaluate the move to hybrid working, reinforce the benefits it brings, ensure that best practices are followed, and provide ways for employees to give solid feedback on their use of the technology.

Organisations that can reward new behaviours, celebrate successes, and make changes based on what their employees need, will see the greatest success.

The future is hybrid

With hybrid working here to stay, it’ll be the organisations that spend time understanding their employee personas that will reap the greatest benefits. With this understanding they can tailor any strategy to their employees’ needs while also managing change and reinforcing adoption over time.

With the right mix of people, processes and technology, organisations will be able to give their employees the flexibility and empowerment to be able to work effectively from anywhere, in a way that best suits them.


Tom Hulscher is Senior Solution Specialist at Insight.

Main image courtesy of iStockPhoto.com

© Business Reporter 2021

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