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4 pitfalls in the typical hybrid workplace model you can avoid with self-service

Pitfalls Hybrid Workplace Model Avoid With Self Service Featured

Hybrid work is here to stay. To ensure it lives up to the promise of more productivity and employee engagement, here are 4 main pitfalls to avoid—and how self-service can help you.

People seem to love hybrid work. The work-life balance and flexibility bring job satisfaction to most employees. From an IT standpoint, however, there are many variables to consider when setting up a hybrid workplace structure. How will you secure it? How can you prevent shadow IT? How can people collaborate and stay productive remotely, instead of being confined to silos?

In this article, we’ll present 4 main pain points most IT teams will face when setting up their environments for a hybrid workplace model, and the ways self-service can come as a solution.

What is a hybrid work environment? What are its benefits?

A hybrid workplace model is the mixture of in-office and remote work, offering flexibility to employees whose roles allow it. This arrangement became especially common after the COVID pandemic hit, when people refrained from going in person to the office because of lockdowns.

According to a Gallup survey, 8 out of 10 people in the US were in a remote or hybrid work model in 2022. Another study by AT&T states that the hybrid workplace model is expected to grow from 42% of workplaces in 2021 to 81% in 2024.

One of the main reasons for the success of the hybrid workplace model is that employees enjoy more autonomy and better work-life balance. As a result, they become more engaged, motivated, and productive. A 2022 Gallup survey shows that almost 60 percent of employees prefer a hybrid workplace model to being in the office in person all the time. 

What are the typical pitfalls associated with a hybrid work model?

1. Data breaches and cyber-attacks bringing security risks

Allowing end users to remain productive while keeping your organization’s data secure must be a priority in any hybrid workplace model. This reality, however, presents a huge challenge for IT security, which depends heavily on cloud-based structures and deals with the relentless risk of data breaches and cyber-attacks. 

According to a 2022 survey, 45 percent of participant businesses claim to have experienced data breaches or failed audits involving cloud-based data and applications—up from 40 percent the year before. As for cyber-attacks or malware threats, another study shows that 47 percent of respondents working in the tech industry said they’ve clicked on a phishing email at work.

“45% of businesses experienced data breaches or failed audits involving cloud-based data and applications.”

2022 Thales Cloud Security Study, Global Edition

So, does this mean working in a hybrid model is synonymous with data breaches? Certainly not. While there’s no failproof antidote against security risks, some IT best practices can mitigate them. One is adopting a zero-trust model, which requires users and devices to be authenticated and validated every time they access data either inside or outside the organization’s network. 

Another efficient way of preventing data breaches is by thoroughly managing external sharing or guest access, ensuring only the right people have access to the information they need. This is particularly important in hybrid workplaces because IT might not have the immediate visibility into shared data, so when they detect an issue, it might be too late to act. On top of that, managing guest access manually is a task that will consume valuable time that IT teams can dedicate to other projects. 

The answer to that could be leveraging automation and enabling self-service. On Microsoft Teams, for example, you can allow users to create and manage their own teams with agility and ease, while complying with governance policies.

This can include automating guest access permissions based on team sensitivity and customizing security permissions to protect SharePoint data. You can also schedule automated reports to have full visibility into your hybrid environment and act on issues quickly.

As a result, remote employees are happy and productive, environments are secure, and IT teams can dedicate more time to value-add projects. Also, this job gets much easier with ShareGate, but we’ll explain how later.

2: Employee dissatisfaction resulting in shadow IT

Being in a hybrid working model puts people more at ease to sidestep software and tools sanctioned by their organizations in order to do their jobs. To give you an idea, one study shows shadow IT grew by 59 percent after the COVID pandemic, when remote work exploded worldwide. 

This shadow IT phenomenon has increased because of three main reasons. First of all, employees want to stay productive and not waste any time. Consequently, any friction in having access or learning how to use authorized tools will make them run to the next available option. The benefits of improving employee engagement are more than just a happy workforce.

Second, users today are more tech-savvy than ever, so they know what tools they can get, where to find them, and how to use them. Finally, people feel empowered by the physical distance from IT, so many of them don’t think twice before starting to use their preferred software.

“If you don’t allow people to create things in the tools you want them to use, or if you put too much friction between them and getting work done, they’ll go use other solutions.”

Marc Anderson, Microsoft MVP

You know the consequences, right? One is related to the first pitfall in this list: unsanctioned software might expose the organization to cyber-attacks and data leakage. In many cases, the damage is already done when IT steps in.  

Another issue is the creation of data silos, which causes information to get dispersed between platforms and become invisible to other teams and colleagues. Moreover, shadow IT hampers collaboration since end users will probably use different tools to perform similar tasks, making it harder to work collectively and increasing the possibility that people will unnecessarily duplicate work. 

Ultimately, shadow IT will hamper productivity, making everyone’s daily jobs more difficult and potentially hurting the organization’s goals. Again, one possible solution is enabling self-service. 

When IT leverages the right self-service tools, they’ll be removing the blockers that exist between end users and the work they need to do. People will feel empowered and valued when they start creating teams and managing SharePoint sites themselves with agility.

And with some education from IT, they will become more autonomous and satisfied, which will naturally increase adoption and productivity and mitigate shadow IT.

3: Poor content management leading to data sprawl

Cloud-based workspaces are fertile ground for data sprawl or data fragmentation, which is the amount of unstructured, unorganized, and unused data generated by an organization.

Most commonly, data sprawl in hybrid workplaces happens when content is created, duplicated, and modified between devices or across platforms (which can be related to shadow IT, our pitfall #2). It can also happen due to poor content lifecycle management: for example, if a team is created in Microsoft Teams for a specific project and is left unarchived after the project is finished, its data (such as related SharePoint documentation) will rest stored in the cloud, unnecessarily occupying space and potentially causing confusion.

When data sprawl gets out of control, it can generate various issues, such as paying for unnecessary storage, failed regulation and governance policy compliance, hampered business intelligence, or simply informational disorder, making it hard or impossible for people to find the data they need. 

One of the best ways to mitigate data sprawl in your Microsoft 365 environment when people work remotely is by setting up an effective governance strategy. This means having a plan that addresses every stage of the Teams and SharePoint lifecycle, from creation to archival, ensuring the information stored in the cloud is relevant, valuable, and accessible.

However, enforcing this strategy manually would be a time-consuming task for IT. This is where self-service and automation come to your rescue. 

Through an efficient provisioning plan, IT will provide employees with templates to create teams and associated resources they actually need for their remote work and nothing else. These templates will also ensure end users create resources within the guardrails set in your governance strategy. This guarantees compliance with the organization’s policies.  

To make this fight against sprawl even more efficient, IT can complement its provisioning strategy by automating the detection and management of inactive and orphaned teams, for example.

4: Less autonomy, bigger ticket queues

In a hybrid model, not empowering people to do what they need in their jobs can become a real problem. Let’s say an employee using Microsoft Teams realizes some guest is in a team they shouldn’t be in or that another team was given the name of the wrong project. This end user wants to do something, but they lack the credentials. What will they do? Open a ticket with IT. 

 This kind of situation causes frustration in end users because, with people being more tech-savvy than ever, they’ll usually know how to fix things themselves. Moreover, since interminable ticket queues are commonplace, this scenario just adds more work for the IT team. 

Once more, self-service might help IT teams tackle this issue. As we mentioned before, when employees manage environments themselves, they’ll feel more empowered and valued. The autonomy and flexibility that self-service provides will make end users more proactive and less inclined to open IT tickets for each and every small task. 

For this strategy to work, however, IT teams must communicate well about how self-service helps users work better. Setting up intranet sites with tips and self-service best practices is a good method to ensure people create things the right way.

Also, think about building a continuing support network to solve queries and receive feedback—you could even rely on key users in each team to be a part of it, so they help take the burden off IT’s shoulders. All this should set the foundations for a new way of doing things that’s better for everyone.

“Users (…) need support to evolve into new ways of thinking (…) otherwise they will work like they always have.”

Luise Freese, Microsoft MVP

What are the best solutions for implementing self-service in hybrid workspaces?

Microsoft 365 services such as Teams and SharePoint are fantastic tools to boost collaboration and productivity in a hybrid work model, even more so if you enable self-service in the best possible way. Enter ShareGate, your go-to solution for Microsoft 365 management, which also provides your IT team with the tools to implement self-service with efficiency. 

Some of ShareGate’s features that make it the best solution for managing a self-service hybrid environment include: 

  • Provisioning – Create customizable provisioning templates so end users can create the teams they need the right way, with your guardrails in place. 
  • End-user app – Provide employees with a space to create and manage their teams from start to finish, giving them agility and saving you time and repetitive work. 
  • Teams securitySecure your environment without locking it down. Give end users the freedom they need while you customize security settings and automate guest access. 
  • Automated governance – Get your governance plan rolling by automating policies. Engage with owners to clean up and organize their resources easily and quickly. 
  • Reporting – Our custom and pre-built actionable reports give you full visibility into your environment and enable you to act fast on issues before they become bigger problems.

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