By Robert Belgrave, CEO of Pax8 UK
Even before the pandemic threw the world into a state of frenzy, many organisations were already in the process of overhauling their antiquated, legacy-based infrastructures in favour of robust, scalable and flexible solutions. Digital transformation has long been on the horizon for many industries, with some faring better than others. However, what we have seen in the past year is that the pandemic and resulting lockdowns have accelerated digital transformation on a scale that we couldn’t have predicted pre-COVID. A recent report found that UK businesses have accelerated their digital transformation efforts by 5.3 years due to COVID-19.
The sudden advancement of UK firms’ digital transformation efforts means that these organisations were not only able to survive the past 12 months but have also been able to future-proof their businesses as they look to emerge from the pandemic. As a result, markets such as hybrid cloud computing have thrived due to their ability to provide improved scalability, agility and reduced costs.
A remote workforce driving the need for agile solutions
With the global workforce having worked remotely for the past 18 months, employees completing their tasks from the comfort of their living rooms now feels the norm. However, if we cast our minds back to last year when we first entered lockdown, the thought of working from home not only made some organisations re-assess the possibility of remote working, but required many to adapt their operations to facilitate it.
As a result, many businesses looked towards cloud infrastructure and adopted a hybrid approach that enabled staff to easily transition from a remote working environment to an on-site one once offices reopened. Providing employees with these cloud-based solutions has enabled them to remain productive, communicate effectively and allowed them to continue collaborating with their teams.
Adopting a hybrid infrastructure provided several advantages during one of the most challenging years many have faced. A hybrid model provided flexible and agile tools for staff. It meant that organisations had a continuity plan in place and could remain operational with minimal disruption or downtime.
From remote to hybrid
While remote working was already on the rise long before the pandemic, some organisations still required their employees to remain in the office full time. What we have learned in the past year is that this way of working is outdated and providing more flexibility improves employee satisfaction. A recent study found that 82% of workers enjoy working from home which means that the idea of “hybrid working” simply can’t be ignored as we emerge into a post-pandemic world.
A previous piece of research found that moving forward, 85% of the UK workforce expect to have a hybrid approach to work in the future. These workers prefer the idea of splitting their time between a single office and their home, stating that a better work-life balance and enhanced well-being were the key drivers. Thankfully, most organisations have spent the past year implementing and perfecting the necessary tools and infrastructures to support this hybrid approach. However, this does mean that the hybrid cloud won’t just be crucial in delivering productive, scalable and agile work solutions, but will also be a fundamental tool for businesses to facilitate improved employee well-being.
We are already seeing a number of key players prepare for this hybrid approach. Microsoft recently unveiled some key features to its latest operating system (OS), Windows 11. The firm states that its latest OS has been designed to enable businesses to support remote working. As a result, some key features will enable more seamless interaction with cloud platforms and access to hybrid communication and collaboration tools.
With the likes of Microsoft taking significant steps in providing solutions to enable hybrid working in the long-term, we can expect many organisations to follow suit.
A recent report on the Global Hybrid Cloud Market, released by Reportlinker, predicts that we can expect to see the market grow at a CAGR of 16.63% until 2026. The report states that hybrid cloud’s ability to support remote working will be a crucial reason for its growth and, with hybrid working looking likely to remain, we shouldn’t be surprised if this number is significantly exceeded.
As the global workforce continues towards a hybrid working model, companies are going to feel more pressure in ensuring that staff have access to all of their applications, whether at home or in the office. A hybrid cloud solution will provide this flexibility, and as staff continues to rely on more complex collaboration tools, businesses need to ensure that their cloud infrastructures can support these tools to empower this new way of working.