Is the Future Remote, Hybrid, or Something Else?


Contributed by SIPPIO

As we enter the final two months of 2021, we are closing out another year of major changes in how people work, communicate, and collaborate.

For the last 20 plus months, businesses have been navigating a paradigm shift in how their employees can remain productive during this transformation. These changes have forced many companies to adapt new technologies that would allow their employees to work remotely to keep the business operating.  Acceleration to cloud technologies has occurred at an unprecedented pace during this time. Now with 2021 ending, businesses must assess their go forward strategy.

Two main approaches have emerged in terms of how and where employees will work going forward. One school of thought believes the future is remote work and the days of in-office work are on the decline. They argue that employees have proven remote work is feasible and productive and are no longer willing to make lengthy commutes.

The second approach, and arguably the one most business wishes to adopt, is hybrid work. They envision an environment where employees split time between an office space and their home office. Some technology companies have embraced this and started offering hybrid work best practices and frameworks that companies can leverage while using their platforms and services.

There exists, however, a third, perhaps more nuanced option and it’s a familiar one that has been discussed before and utilized. Work from anywhere is really the long-term model that businesses must adopt to be successful and sustainable.

One could argue that hybrid work encompasses this model but if you look at most hybrid work models that don’t really consider the holistic approach that work from anywhere does. It really requires businesses to reimagine office workspace in a totally different light.

It will mean fundamental change in how companies recruit, retain, and support employees. Understand that work from anywhere is going to happen because the underlying transformations in the network and rapid shift to cloud are going to move it in that direction.

As 5G permeates more and more regions, the last mile options will begin to untether business from land-based connectivity. 5G is synonymous with IOT and that makes it a powerful option for how collaboration and communication can interact with data and analytics going forward.

Workers will demand the level of flexibility that only work from anywhere can offer. Forcing people to the office will be seen as archaic and will result in the demise of some companies. Even prior to the pandemic the need for UCaaS solutions to support a work from anywhere model was prevalent. In my interactions with large global fortune 500, I was often asked when UCaaS would embrace a more mobile posture.

If you consider the capital impacts to investments made in premised-based technologies like a PBX or room conferencing system when another lockdown occurs its simply unsustainable. A work from anywhere model means the core UCaaS architecture must support a global footprint, must have multiples layers of resiliency and must scale efficiently up or down based on demand.

This of course means the cloud is first and foremost.

It also implies that voice will continue to play an important role in the overall UCaaS/collaboration landscape. It means applications must be centered on mobile devices and not as an afterthought. It means an evolution in the smart devices that users will have to better facilitate that immersive collaboration experience. If OTT providers get this user experience right, they will have a substantial leg up on the competition. There are more than 4 billion smart devices in the market and that number is expected to grow to nearly 6 billion in the next two years.

The future is set to make employees truly mobile and work from anywhere is the future, even if hybrid is the interim step along the way.