Jeff leads HKBN JOS’s business in Singapore with a focus on driving growth in Asia's digital economy and tackling customer challenges with the latest technology while adding tangible value. With more than 20 years of regional leadership and experience in the IT&T industry, Jeff is well-versed in application development, networking, server systems, and architecture design.
Preparing for the new normal: The future of the workforce is hybrid
The practice of work from anywhere and any device has been around for years - but its adoption has been greatly accelerated with the onset of COVID-19 pandemic. Business and economic realities in 2020 have compelled organisations to step up digital transformation to create a sustainable hybrid environment that will support employees who are working on-site, as well as from off-site locations.
In my conversations with customers, the foremost priority for most of them centres around how employees in the office can work seamlessly and effectively with those who are working from home. As society and economy move towards the recovery phase, businesses' success will be inextricably tied to how they manage their hybrid workforce and how efficiency, collaboration and productivity can be maximised to deliver impactful business outcomes. Understanding these, a top priority of HKBN JOS has been making it easier for businesses to share knowledge, innovate as a team, solve problems and access key resources under such hybrid arrangement.
With the hybrid work arrangement, there is a real risk of developing silos between remote and on-site teams, resulting in a disconnect between teams and business goals. To overcome this, a two-pronged approach is required:
1. Invest in technology that enables collaboration
Effective collaboration would not happen if team members, both on-site and remote, cannot communicate with one another. On top of helping teams remain in touch, collaboration tools today such as Zoom, Teams, Slack are invaluable assets that enable colleagues to work together on projects in real-time – helping the hybrid workforce maintain seamless connectivity to build a sense of teamwork.
2. Infuse the human touch in the way we engage employees digitally
As remote teams work off-site for extended periods of time, there is a chance they may feel socially isolated from the rest of the team. This can be addressed if organisations make a conscious effort to set up regular catchups via video conferencing and even create specific chat channels that are not work-focused – similar to the typical pantry chat experience in the physical office.
Creating a secure environment with a hybrid workforce may sound challenging but there are certain steps organisations can take to realise this. A hybrid workforce would open up more access points to a business’s network, making endpoints more distributed and expansive – proving there is a need to rethink security for the connected economy.
As a first step, businesses must better understand the strength of existing cyber defence mechanisms. HKBN JOS Security Assessment conducts an in-depth review of IT security strategies, highlighting gaps and vulnerabilities that should be addressed while providing concrete steps to boost security and improve compliance.
To secure a hybrid workforce, HKBN JOS recommends a holistic approach to cybersecurity along with multiple layers of defence:
- Virtual Private Network or Virtual Desktop Infrastructure to create a secure, encrypted passage between remote workers and work data or applications
- Newer forms of cybersecurity concepts including Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASB) which sits between a business’s on-premises infrastructure and a cloud provider's infrastructure, and Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) which combines WAN abilities with cloud-based security functions
- Multi-Factor Authentication to make it difficult for unauthorised personnel to gain access
- Data encryption so that data will be unreadable and useless in the event of breaching
Today's best-run businesses are those that harness technology and embed it across the entire organisation to amplify the outcomes of decisions made and actions taken for the hybrid workforce. The key to achieve this is to extract the most out of the data generated from this hybrid work arrangement. Modern digital platforms will have the capabilities to collect and analyse data from the various teams operating in different environments across the organisation. These data can include operational data that pinpoints workforce bottlenecks, employee engagement patterns, or collaboration challenges. The rich insights from these data will help organisations resolve key issues related to their hybrid workforce, so both on-site and off-site teams can work together effectively.
To fully unlock the powerful insights that data offers, HKBN JOS has helped businesses achieve consistency across their entire data architecture by unifying data management policies and optimising data warehouse management. This has resulted in the creation of an integrated data architecture and intuitive UI displays that help businesses derive insights quickly and easily.
The transition to a hybrid workforce will be filled with challenges. Still, if the various business lines are aligned and transformed with purpose, it will enhance productivity and teamwork to spur business growth – that's what we firmly believe at HKBN. In an ever-changing business environment, organisations can explore working with trusted technology partners to build a reliable and future-forward digital foundation, so they can better focus on running their core business. In fact, we see many bundled cloud offices and IT support solutions being offered recently to help businesses adapt to the new remote work reality. Many of these are created to help organisations accelerate their digitalisation journeys without being weighed down by technology and workspace challenges, enabling them to focus on charting a path for greater growth in the new normal.
The pandemic has given business leaders a golden opportunity to step up to the challenge and to lead by example, leveraging technology to deepen engagements with the workforce. With our proven track record in driving innovations for customers in this region, along with our unique culture of being unyielding and always striving for excellence, HKBN JOS is ready to help organisations harness this to their advantage, offering a hybrid work environment that will continue to attract digital-first talents so they can build back better.