Navigating the New Norm: Challenges and Solutions for Hybrid Work



Since the Pandemic started in 2020, almost all companies have been forced to allow workers to work remotely at least some of the time. With the COVID restrictions now in the rear-view mirror (fingers very much crossed), the return to the office has proven to be more painful than could have been hoped for. Companies large and small are struggling to get back to ‘normal’ as employees work expectations have been reset after the enforced home working period. What are the challenges involved in this area and how can the technology industry help ? I will examine the challenges and look at the products and services the IT Industry can offer. As an ex-employee of several large vendors who deployed the collaboration solutions we all use, I will use personal examples where appropriate.

What are the challenges of hybrid working?

Employee attitudes to their preferred workplace location have certainly changed and companies have different requirements and desires for how often their employees come to the office. (1,2). This is not a one size fits all kind of problem although there is a common theme of workers craving the ability to work at home and companies valuing the benefits of more office working.

Some of the key cultural challenges of not having employees in a shared office space include: (3)

1. Communication


With the partial office return that is commonplace, meetings will have some staff in a meeting room and others logged in remotely. Ensuring strong participation from all in this environment is tricky due to technical and cultural issues.

People messaging from remote offices

People working remotely on a project

2. Coordination


Team activities can fracture when some of the team is remote and others are regularly in the same office. Ensuring that the work is equally split and that the input from all team members is considered is difficult.

3. Connection


Those who regularly attend the office are more likely to build connections with others which can advance their career and increase their happiness. For employees whose role is to maintain relationships with third parties (customers, suppliers or partners) the challenges are twofold. How to ensure they are representing the correct company culture and latest information and how do they maintain the external relationships with more video calls and less face to face time ?

a work team connecting

woman working from home office

4. Creativity


I worked for a large IT Vendor as an apprentice and after a year in the manufacturing plant, I did a stint in the development labs some miles away. At 11am every day, every single person in the building decamped to the canteen for ‘tea and toast’. At first It felt that this was slacking off after the rigid regime of a manufacturing plant. I soon came to realise that the conversations that got overheard, the easy access to any person you wanted to ask a quick question of and the relaxed nature of that 30 minutes was a huge creativity booster. Even if an office environment isn’t as planned as ‘tea and toast’ time, the natural rhythm of the office boosts individual and team creativity in a way that a remote or hybrid working scenario cannot replicate.

5. Culture

Maintaining a unique identify and a definitive culture in an age when employees are more likely to be remote than in the office is a certainly a challenge but one that many organisations have successfully addressed for many years. I worked in a sales team for a large Software and now Cloud Vendor and despite only going to the office once or twice a week on average, I felt totally on board with the culture and solutions the company offered. A mixture of online training, remote and in person events and meetings over the year were in place to achieve this. (4)

There is no easy answer to these challenges and as suppliers of IT solutions and services, our role is to help companies with solutions that provide them the flexibility to operate from fully office based, through hybrid to fully remote so they can continue operations however they decide to move forward.

Woman working from home with dog

Technical solutions for Hybrid work.

Three of the most significant areas where IT Service Providers can add value to customers in this area are Mobility, Security and Productivity and Collaboration:


As staff have become less office based, it has become critical to ensure that they are productive wherever they are. This could be at home but could also be on the road or working from a coffee shop. The right devices and solutions to achieve this have been selling like hot cakes since 2020 as we have all experienced. The current slowdown in the mobile device, tablet and laptop markets are an inevitable consequence of the huge refresh that happened between 2020 and 2022. The Analysts expect the market to return to growth in 2024 as economies grow and some of the early, 2020 rushed purchases are replaced with more modern equipment. (5).

With the introduction of Intel 13th Generation processors, the performance of Laptops is now able to rival that of high end desktop machines of just a few years ago. The increase in performance and battery longevity will help workers using office applications and those engaged more challenging workloads such as video editing and games design.

People discussing logistics

people finding cyber threat



The growth in cyber crime has been exponential and having staff working remotely more often presents unique challenges that companies must address.  With more employees accessing company data from outside the network, more stringent security processes and solutions must be in place. With Security being a key area of skills shortage, this is an area where Service Providers can add significant value to companies helping them provide the right level of hybrid working whilst managing the associated security risks. The CrowdStrike 2023 Global Threat Report identified Hybrid Working and the use of Cloud Solutions as areas that were being targeted by Cyber Criminals. (6)

Productivity and Collaboration Solutions

Traditional providers of productivity and communications solutions like Microsoft and Cisco were carried along on the wave of home working whilst some more niche providers like Zoom were propelled into the spotlight. Solutions like Zoom, Teams and Webex will continue to be a core part of hybrid working strategies from SMB companies to the largest enterprises. With a lot of these solutions already in place the opportunity for the IT Service Providers is to help customers get the best return from these solutions through training and the implementation of new features as they arise. As AI becomes baked into these solutions, customers will need help to use the technology efficiently.

As an example, one of the highest growth product lines we are seeing is the Teams Rooms platforms, a software layer that sits on a range of different Audio Visual solutions, but offers common user experience for remote, mobile and physical deployments of Microsoft Teams. This is a great example of how products are developing to manage all of the different remote and hybrid working models required in todays society.

IT Providers have had a significant role to play in enabling companies Digital Transformation efforts and Hybrid Working scenarios. This will continue as there appears to be no way to return to pre pandemic working models given the preference for flexibility in working location no demanded by many employees.