Joanne Camarce is a digital marketer focused on growing and strategizing B2B marketing and PR efforts. She loves slaying outreach campaigns and connecting with brands like G2, Wordstream, Process Street, and more. When she’s not wearing her marketing hat, you’ll find Joanne lost in the world of Japanese music and art, or just being a dog mom.
From increased employee autonomy to the transformation of offices into meeting hubs, the world of work has experienced a fundamental shift in how things are done. As data and tech innovations continue to morph the future of hybrid work for startups, that change will keep moving.
And that’s a good thing.
None of us knew exactly how much change the pandemic would bring, and some of that change has been frustrating, difficult, and not exactly ideal. Some of it, though, has been very necessary. Some of that change has even been a bit brilliant and revolutionized workplace accessibility in ways many employees have only dreamt of.
We’re talking about change that has made the startup world more efficient, strategic, and, heck – more human.
So how exactly do data and tech continue to impact the future of hybrid work for startups? Let’s find out.
In this post for Process Street, I’ll cover the primary impact hybrid has had so far – and what companies can expect going forward:
- The future of hybrid work & data security
- Rethinking the hybrid workspace
- Hybrid work & money matters
- Using automation & consolidation to ease the hybrid transition
- Nurturing culture & well-being for hybrid workers
The future of hybrid work & data security
When the world turned upside down, everything was up in the air. Nobody knew when they’d return to the office — or if they ever would.
Some organizations sent employees home with technology and work-from-home setups. Others didn’t.
Some employees had their own devices at home. Others didn’t.
Some employees had secure networks and private devices at home. Others didn’t.
Some employees knew how to keep their client’s data secure. Others didn’t.
It was chaos.
But the future won’t have time for that type of chaos. In the future, startups and hybrid businesses alike will need to prioritize providing secure technology to hybrid employees. And not just to prevent cyber security threats, viruses, and data leaks, but to also create business operations that remain seamless no matter where the employee is working from.
Improved data storage and data exchange
No matter what industry your startup is in, data storage and data exchange are the foundation of everything you do.
And luckily, both continue to make rapid technological advances.
Finding, analyzing, extracting, and exchanging data? You’re in luck because both are becoming exponentially faster and more secure.
Need to retrieve data faster and more securely? Edge computing is here, and it’s changing everything.
Need to share data safely and in real-time? Cloud-based productivity platforms, @mention features, and document sharing can help you get out whatever you need. The real world is accurately represented by synthetic data, which can be used as a powerful and cost-effective way to reflect real-world data.
If you’re looking to collect and analyze customer profile information, customer data platforms and chatbots can do both with ease.
With online data exchange becoming faster and more reliable, hybrid workplaces are more strategic and feasible now than they were even a decade ago.
Doubling down on cybersecurity
The future of hybrid work won’t stand a chance if robust cybersecurity isn’t in place.
From providing virtual desktops to issuing virtual private networks and having IT on standby, doubling down on cybersecurity is and will always be a must.
Notice we said “doubling down” — because your standard virus protection software isn’t going to cut it anymore.
As technology continues to increase rapidly, so too does the tech used by cybercriminals.
Unfortunately, cybercriminals are clever. If there’s a program, network, database, or piece of equipment that’s not fully protected, a cybercriminal can and will find it.
That’s why getting serious about cybersecurity now is vital to preparing for potential cybersecurity attacks in the future.
To stay on top of cybersecurity, we recommend hiring a cyber security expert to:
- Conduct a cybersecurity health checkup each month;
- Design a cybersecurity plan your entire organization can follow;
- Conduct cybersecurity training your entire organization can attend.
Rethinking the hybrid workspace
After months of being cooped up at home, employees are looking for more than just a typical workplace when they’re onsite. Whether they’re fully remote or hybrid, employees want a place to gather, connect, brainstorm, and co-work.
In other words, offices are evolving into open, collaborative spaces.
The “flying desk” model is also becoming a part of more office spaces. If you haven’t heard of this, picture being onsite at Google. Think open-air, thematic zones, and co-working stations instead of cubicles, dividers, and offices.
Think of comfy couches, a stocked snack bar, and creativity-inducing music playing in the background.
And — this is where tech really shines — picture office furniture embedded with smart features. Yes, you read that correctly. We’re talking about an entire onsite overhaul.
Hybrid work & money matters
One of the great draws to hybrid work for employers is the impact it has on expenses – namely office space. Fewer employees on location mean you can cut back on the amount of space you need, reducing expenses like rent, utilities, and so on.
The prospect can be exciting, but don’t get ahead of yourself. While a number of expenses will go down, others will take their place. For example, take something as simple (and easily overlooked) as eating costs.
The recent growth of the meal delivery market has been a huge success for restaurants and catering providers. And while remote workers appreciate being able to order food on an app in seconds, their costs are becoming steeper.
Since the pandemic broke out, remote employees have reported spending $151 or more per month on takeout or meal delivery. Remote workers that say they’re skilled home cooks as well as those who claim to eat healthy meals both report spending an additional $300 per month on groceries.
Organizations continue to spend more on meal delivery, from hosting collaborative lunch meetings to issuing food stipends and granting grocery reimbursements.
And to encourage employees to reduce movement, some organizations will end up paying for their employees’ lunches indefinitely.
Show me the stock options!
When the use of stock apps disrupted the market, people worldwide started thinking differently about money.
Work schedules changed, so hybrid employees took to financial side hustles.
Work perks started looking bleak, so startups began paying employees in Bitcoin.
Parents worried about their children’s futures, so they began investing in kids’ stocks.
But stock apps and financial options are just merely starting to scratch the surface. In the future, startups will need to offer employees more flexible stock options, payment options, and benefits packages. We’re talking about options like cryptocurrency, virtual real estate, artificial intelligence, and virtual goods.
Startups will also need to prioritize financial training and education so employees can make smart financial decisions. To streamline the process, startups may turn to professional employer organizations (PEO companies) for support in offering new benefit options and employee training.
Using automation & consolidation to ease the hybrid transition
Marketing used to mean having multiple departments, large ad budgets, and being okay with launching a lot of failed campaigns.
But data and tech advances have simplified marketing to a whole new level.
Need to conduct consumer behavior research? Easy, helpful, and eerily accurate resources are available.
Need to design buyer personas and create customer journey maps? Strategic, simple, and customizable templates are close by.
Need to schedule your social media and ad campaigns to run on autopilot? Marketing automation can automate repetitive, manual marketing activities for months out, or longer.
Need to design an SEO strategy? Topic planning tools, keyword planning tools, and SEO tools can help you design one in less than a day.
With all of these advancements simplifying the marketing process, we can only imagine more robust and exact marketing resources continuing to pop up in the future.
RevOps: The way forward for hybrid
Revenue operations are the glue that holds sales, customer success, and marketing operations together. It’s the process by which revenue grows within an organization’s operational efficiency.
In other words, it’s the magic that happens when sales operations, customer operations, and marketing operations come together successfully.
With these three powers at play, startups can better predict where revenue is coming from and improve sales training.
And with tools like sales management platforms, call tracking platforms, and sales engagement platforms popping up, the future of revenue operations looks brighter and brighter.
While the idea of revenue operations was originally born out of necessity, the future of revenue operations will be all about growing sustainably and simply.
We predict more SaaS products will continue to appear on the market with a mission to help startups become more efficient at sales, marketing, and customer service.
Nurturing culture & well-being for hybrid workers
If you’re surprised that you’re reading about culture, well-being, and collaboration in a data and tech piece, that’s okay. We were surprised at first, too.
But the truth is, as data and tech continue to emerge, so does the need for more connection in culture, well-being, and collaboration.
The truth is, data and tech have brought us closer together, but also further apart.
Employees may not have as much time to chat by the watercooler like they used to, but most of their projects have become a group effort.
Teams may have fewer company holiday parties and group meetings than they used to, but if one department fails, the rest of the departments are affected.
In other words, every cog in the machine is important in order for the entire machine to work smoothly.
Nurturing culture, well-being, and collaboration is a must for startups that want to operate as productively and seamlessly as possible.
Flexible work schedules based on effort, not hours
In a recent study by Gartner, 69% of workers said they were more likely to consider a role that allows them to work from a location of their choice. 64% also said they were more likely to consider a role that allows flexible hours.
That’s not changing anytime soon.
While the pandemic made home life more complicated for many employees, it also gave employees the freedom they’d been longing for; the freedom to be in charge of their own time, spend time with their families, and work during peak energy hours.
It also gave employees the chance to embed more wellness practices into their day-to-day schedules.
Employees got a taste of designing their own schedules, and there’s no going back from that. Startups interested in attracting and retaining top talent will need to seriously consider offering flexible work schedules based on completed work, not hours worked.
Employer trust & employee autonomy
We’ve touched on freedom when it comes to scheduling, but employees are craving freedom in other areas of their work, too.
While employees appreciate clear expectations, they also appreciate having autonomy over their work style. In other words, the helicopter management style is out and the hands-off management style is in.
Employees stay with organizations that trust them. They stay with organizations that give them the space, time, and trust to complete their work on their terms. They stay with organizations that view them as co-creators rather than worker bees.
As the future continues to favor autonomous employees, startups will need to create better ways to collaborate with team members.
Hybrid work & emerging tech: Key takeaways
The journey toward greater mobility and flexibility is ongoing.
Investments in digital transformation and technology are skyrocketing, but many startups are still wary about investing in emerging tech.
While technologies like 5G, virtual reality, and AI may sound risky, it’s really all about testing.
By leaning on security platforms that allow secure technology testing, startups can get the most out of their investments before taking the plunge.
Still sound risky? Look, we get it. It’s been an unpredictable time for businesses and employees all over the world.
But to survive in a competitive future, it’s vital to consider investing in emerging technology, especially if the technology improves productivity, efficiency, and/or collaboration.
What did you think about this article? Did we miss anything? Leave a comment below and let us know how you think data and tech will impact the future of hybrid work.
Leks Drakos, Ph.D. is a rogue academic with a PhD from the University of Kent (Paris and Canterbury). Research interests include HR, DEIA, contemporary culture, post-apocalyptica, and monster studies. Twitter: @leksikality [he/him]