Hybrid Work Index: Executive Summary

Power hybrid work with the best in people and the best in technology

Cisco's Hybrid Work Index is based on millions of aggregated and anonymous customer datapoints and examines the trends defining the future of work: Improving employee experience and productivity; recruiting and retaining top talent; and achieving greater organizational efficiency, resiliency, and agility.

The global shift away from traditional work models to what is now known widely as ‘hybrid work’ has brought people, policies, and company culture to the forefront. It has also increased the speed of digital transformation and technology solution adoption as organizations continue their journey from supporting remote work models, to hybrid work models.

Hybrid work is an approach that designs the work experience around and for the worker, wherever they are. It empowers people to work from home, in the office, or anywhere.

Cisco's Hybrid Work Index (HWI) examines how peoples’ habits and technology interactions have permanently reshaped work. Based on millions of aggregated and anonymized customer datapoints, HWI reveals how hybrid workers expect greater flexibility, accessibility, and security, while businesses grapple with meeting these increased technology demands.

Several key themes emerge in the HWI that will help business leaders understand how to make hybrid work a long-term success. Here are some of the key findings:

People and Culture

Understanding employee needs and expectations is critical to retaining top talent and expanding the talent pool as organizations shift to hybrid work. Employees want more flexibility and more of a voice in where, when, and how they work. For people managers, ensuring employee engagement with effective collaboration will be key as the workforce becomes increasingly distributed.

Organizations and team leaders need to nurture a spirit of flexibility and adaptability that allows business needs to be met while playing to the strengths of their people and their preferred work styles. This means establishing new and elevated levels of trust and transparency within teams and the organization as a whole to lead from both a talent and a bottom-line perspective.

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There are already many ways to collaborate in real-time and off-line to get work done. However, poor collaboration experiences hinder active engagement and inclusion, create misunderstanding, and result in people feeling left out.

In particular, an excess of virtual meetings and the cognitive load associated with them are overwhelming many people. Our research identified five essential characteristics to engendering a successful hybrid work environment and avoiding ‘meeting fatigue’, employee burnout, and toxic cultures: Flexible, Inclusive, Supportive, Secure, and Managed.

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The shift to hybrid work has dramatically changed the threat landscape and expanded the attack surface. Securing remote access is necessary but insufficient to adequately protect the workforce.

A comprehensive approach to securing hybrid work capabilities is essential. One that focuses on workforce security awareness and transforms networking and security to provide secure access wherever users and applications reside. Here, choice and interoperability are critical to protecting all applications, all clouds, and all software environments.

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Hybrid work experiences are customized not only for business size and industry, but also for location, and individual employee’s needs and preferences.

While some businesses are now returning to the office, the need to equip remote workers with enterprise-grade connectivity and security has continued.

Organizations must empower their hybrid workforce with seamless access to cloud applications and high-quality collaborative experiences, while providing IT teams with the tools they need to assure security, control, and governance across devices, networks, clouds, and applications.

See how network innovations are key to hybrid work success >

Putting it all together

The transition to the new ‘normal’ has passed. Organizations are expected to be at full operational mode, delivering on customer expectations, today. To remain competitive and viable, the focus now is to maximize people’s engagement, empowerment, and well-being, wherever they work. This calls for the convergence of people, technology, and places, together with closer collaboration between the leaders responsible for these areas:

  • Chief HR Officers (CHROs) and Chief People Officers (CPOs) must play to people’s strengths by being flexible, adaptable, and open to what works best for each individual and team, as well as for what may lie ahead. Because when you get teams right, your organization wins.
  • Chief Information Officers (CIOs) and IT Executives should focus on empowering workers to be engaged and productive at home, in the office, or anywhere, by enabling inclusive, flexible, supportive, secure, and IT-manageable work experiences at scale.
  • Chief Operations Officers (COOs) and Facilities Managers need to transform all types of workspaces to connect people in new ways when they are in the office or facility, and enhance health, well-being, and safety.
    Cisco's position at the intersection of collaboration, security, networking, cloud, and applications, as well as our services expertise to bring them all together, means no one is better positioned to be your partner on this path to agility.

Cisco makes hybrid work, work.

We’ve done it for our own organization. Let us help you do the same.

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