15 March 2022

Reimagining the office: the role of ‘digital first’ in the race to a hybrid workplace

By Adam Gardner, Head of Products

The world around us is changing rapidly. People are changing, perspectives are evolving and the focus has shifted for employees and organisations.

The proof of this is in the pudding, with research showing that:

  • 97% of employees want a permanent hybrid working model
  • 65% of employees will sacrifice salary in favour of flexibility

Technology is the integration point of our personal and professional lives, ensuring we have access to what we need, when we need it to sustain productivity and fuel collaboration.

With a millennial workforce continuing to grow, so too is the evolution of the workplace and associated environments. Now is a poignant time in our history. With so much drastic change happening, organisations are reconsidering their definition of ‘work’ and what their workplace of the future needs to look like to support the changing needs of their people, present and future.

Another big shift we are witnessing is the need to adapt and evolve in line with the new belief that the workplace isn’t somewhere we go, but instead a place for relationships. The new challenge is not about creating a workplace where people have to go, but instead one where they want to go.

We see an increasing number of our customers pursuing a hybrid digital workplace strategy to not only future-proof their foundations, but ensure they’re prepared to meet employee expectations.

A hybrid digital workplace is an environment that cultivates flexibility and modern capability. The hybrid trend – at both the workplace and technology layers - has accelerated exponentially since the start of COVID-19, with both strategies enabling more flexible and innovative thinking – with no anchors.

Making hybrid happen

We all know hybrid IT. It’s nothing new, but if we break down the purpose of hybrid IT to its rawest form, it’s the efficient allocation of IT resources and enabling capabilities where and when they are needed.

Read more: Five imperatives for investing in your Hybrid IT future.

Hybrid IT is a critical companion and enabler of the workplace of the future, but it’s only one part of a bigger picture. The hybrid workplace of the future is more than just the hardware - it’s about the humans who use it and the processes and culture that wrap tightly around both.

Going digital first

The hybrid workplace of the future will only be realised by those that embed a ‘digital first’ mindset across the business. For some this will require a big culture shift; for others it means minor adjustments.

"Digital first means building an environment where people are empowered to do the work that’s needed, from anywhere, at any time."

Digital first means building an environment where people are empowered to do the work that’s needed, from anywhere, at any time. It means establishing processes and a ‘way of life’ that is agile and can scale; as well as enabling a culture of autonomy and flexibility that staff are increasingly calling for.

This level of hybrid capability can’t afford to be overlooked, not only is it essential to growing revenue and customer satisfaction; it also forms a critical pillar to an organisation’s people and culture strategy, and their ability to attract and retain the best talent.

Work from anywhere

Let me share an example – one of our long-standing team members made the decision to relocate home to Ireland. Now, we don’t have an office in Ireland, or operations in the UK. But as a valued member of our team, we knew that just because his location changed, didn’t mean his contribution and value would.

Sure, there are times he’s having dinner while I’m having breakfast on conference calls, but he has the flexibility to integrate work into his life as it best suits his family, and we retained a great team member.

The upsides of a hybrid digital-first culture include:

  • Improvements to your corporate culture
  • The ability to attract and retain the best talent in the market
  • Enhancing and embedding organisation-wide flexibility and agility
  • Cutting physical and cultural anchors that tell people you’re tied to the ways of the ‘old world’
  • Optimising costs as you find new and more efficient uses for your office space
  • Achieving and maintaining sustainability and net-zero targets.

What’s next?

As they say, there’s no time like the present; in fact, now is absolutely the time for leaders to start considering the big picture and the building blocks that will enable that future.

You might be thinking ‘where do I start’. If you are, you’re not alone because many organisations are in the same boat. The good news is you don’t need to have all the answers. Leaning into your partnerships and your ecosystem will play an important role in the process.

We certainly don’t pretend to have all the answers, but it’s a topic we’re closely aligned to and one we are increasingly connected to our customers on. If you’re eager to have a conversation about your workplace of the future and how NEXTDC can help you make a smooth transition to a hybrid digital-first environment, get in touch.