Hybrid Working – the ‘new normal’ is here to stay

It’s an exciting time to be in unified comms technology. The world has never been so diverse in terms of how people connect with each other, and this has affected how we all live, work and play. We have never been so together, and yet in many ways we have never been so fragmented, nor needed to multi-task quite so effectively, and this needs a carefully managed response.

By integrating communications modules within a native Microsoft Teams platform, the possibilities are literally infinite. SaaS solutions include advanced call routing, contact centre provision and management, compliance call recording and analytics, and social media integration – all scalable and future-proofed for multi-site use, with no reduction in quality.

Companies like Conversant Technology grew rapidly during the pandemic – out of adversity comes innovation – and now the norms around hybrid working are generally well established, and also well accepted. An article in the Scottish Sunday Post of 11th April, for example, published research which demonstrated that 68% of Scots working in the public sector value remote/hybrid working options.

Conversant’s CEO, Patrick Copping, said: “At Conversant, my goal is to bring people together, whether internally or externally in an organisation; in the office or at home. Covid has changed the way we work, and in the past two years we have all seen immense changes in terms of enabling remote working, and indeed schooling. I get it personally as well as conceptually – I have also been that dad running meetings from the dining room, while logging on to Google Classroom to try to teach fractions to my little boy before continuing a meeting from the car.”

Untold benefits to work/life balance

We therefore find ourselves at a junction, but one direction we know we won’t be taking is back to how things were. Hybrid working, which Conversant is dedicated to enabling, is here to stay, and brings untold benefits to people’s work/life balance.

Copping said: “Women and working parents have benefited especially, while for many younger people it is about choice and options. The opportunity to bond socially at work and ‘be seen’ – in the end humans are social animals – and the opportunity to focus at home and get things done without the need to commute. It is even possible to take a working sabbatical and be just as efficient from a beach hut or a remote mountain top – my personal ethos is that I don’t care much where people are or how they do the job, as long as they get it done.”

Environmental benefits of hybrid working patterns

Conversant also believes in giving back. Carbon emissions plummeted during the pandemic, especially during periods of forced lockdown, and hybrid working is a hugely positive driver for sustainable working practices. With rising utility bills – especially since the onset of the conflict in Ukraine – the chance to save on fuel is a huge plus.

On the flip side there are implications for city centre retailers and the future of office developments, the outcomes of which will only become known as a new balance evolves. HR departments, meanwhile, are grappling with hybrid contracts, lack of visibility in line management and ensuring fairness, while companies like Conversant deal with the IT.

Copping said: “We are determined to be at the forefront of these new developments, playing our part in enabling greater productivity, efficiency and integration in the brave new world we are navigating.

The power of serendipity and ‘going for GOLD’

“We did happen to find ourselves in the right place at the right time. I’m not being disingenuous, as of course my overarching role is to enable Conversant to excel at what it does, ensure we provide the best service to our clients, and to be a profitable enterprise. But winning £500,000 of investment in 2018, a year or so before the pandemic which thrust home working onto the agenda and forced the pace of change far faster than would have otherwise been the case, did a great deal to help our particular cause.

This investment has been put to excellent use, helping us grow and also to specialize, and we are also now a Microsoft GOLD partner, which only 1% of Microsoft partners achieves. One of our next challenges is to further develop sector-specific solutions, initially in healthcare, finance, SME and further education.”

We see what we do as being like a car - you may be all right with the basic version, but your journey will be hugely enhanced, and the ride much smoother, if you add sensors to avoid colliding with a wall, alloy wheels for improved road traction and fuel efficiency, and Bluetooth to keep you connected while you drive.

So the question is, where do you want to go?