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The amount of research around hybrid working has been stacking up, and the broad consensus is that it will be one of the long-lasting changes produced by the pandemic.
Riverbed Technology has been one of those that has contributed to the debate after finding that 83% of business and IT decision-makers felt that 25% of their workforces would remain working flexibly. The last time the vendor asked that question in 2020, that number was 30%, showing a dramatic increase in the number of firms planning for hybrid working.
Riverbed’s Hybrid work global survey also found that many of those quizzed felt that being able to offer hybrid working would help recruitment and have a positive impact on staff and society.
But there were some concerns around the implications of supporting a work-from-anywhere workforce, with many recognising that they were worried about security, network performance and potential technology disruption.
As a result, a decent number of customers indicated that they are planning to invest in technology in the next 12 to 18 months to ensure they are able to provide a good hybrid working model.
While those statistics will make interesting reading for those customers trying to formulate a hybrid working strategy, there are questions around what it means for the channel and it is clear that there are opportunities around planned areas of investment and beyond.
Kirsten MacGregor, channel sales manager, UKI, at Riverbed Technology, said the idea of hybrid working was not a fresh one for its partners.
“As in many industries, the channel has talked about hybrid working being the future for a few years,” she said. “The pandemic acted as a catalyst, making hybrid a reality of our everyday working lives. And now, as the effects of the pandemic slow down, hybrid working is here to stay.
“This fact is highlighted by our survey, which shows that nearly half of IT decision-makers (42%) think the majority of the workplace will be hybrid after Covid-19. For the channel, this is a huge opportunity.
“Hybrid working can enable three key things in the channel – decreasing costs, expanding talent pools and enhancing collaboration.”
On the subject of decreasing costs, MacGregor said channel companies could help themselves and customers in reducing the demand on office space and help staff reduce commuting costs. There are also opportunities to cast the net wider for talented staff and look internationally for people with the right skills because of the lifting of a physical demand to sit in an office, she added.
MacGregor also challenged the idea that hybrid working could affect collaboration efforts, pointing out that this was not something that always had to happen sitting at a desk in an office. “People who work in a hybrid model are proving to be more likely to take advantage of the times when they are in a face-to-face scenario,” she said. “In addition, it can mean you have a workforce that is more focused on the personal sharing of ideas when opportunities arise.”