The Era of Hybrid Work Is Here: What Does it Mean for Ops Teams?

by PagerDuty June 17, 2021 | 4 min read

The largest remote working experiment the world has ever faced is entering a new phase as the era of hybrid work begins. For IT and DevOps teams on the frontline, this is a time of enormous pressure. Along with its many benefits, hybrid working can also bring considerable disruption. Enabling and supporting the hybrid model is the next big challenge facing organizations around the globe.

We wanted to find out what this new reality means for these teams. So, we asked more than 800* IT and DevOps professionals for their views. Here’s a snapshot of what we found.

Hybrid Work is Here to Stay

Hybrid working is not a passing trend. The majority (69%) of our survey respondents think hybrid working is here to stay, with a further 10% seeing fully remote working as the future. This finding has been echoed in other recent studies. Research from Forrester published in May found that under a third (30%) of US and EU companies will “embrace a full return-to-office model” as we transition out of the pandemic.

The knock-on effect is driving greater technology spend and adoption. Successful hybrid working that empowers employees requires a frictionless experience supported by digital technologies. Not surprisingly, our research found that after IT infrastructure (41%), collaborative work management solutions, and video conferencing tools are getting the biggest proportion (22%) of the IT budget.

The Impact on IT and DevOps Teams

So, what does this rapid digital transformation of our workplaces mean for the IT and DevOps teams responsible for delivering this shift? Of our respondents, only 32% think it will make their work easier. In fact, 68% believe that their work will stay the same or become more complex in a hybrid model.

Specifically, they are worried about difficulties collaborating (23%) and a potential increase in workload (22%). These are certainly reasonable concerns given that supporting a distributed workforce creates new demands. On top of supporting new hardware, IT services need to be “always on” now more than ever. IT user support policies are changing to accommodate these new needs. Almost half (45%) of those we asked said that user support policies were changing to include remote support and remote-management tools.

Three Elements to Successful Hybrid Working

Against this backdrop of change, successful hybrid working requires organizations to make other adjustments in addition to investing in digitalization. To sustain the positive aspects of hybrid work while minimizing the negative outcomes, there are three main elements to consider.

Culture: Openness and transparency is critical to effectively operating a hybrid workforce.

  • 45% of survey respondents want their department to invest in establishing flexible and effective top-down, bottom-up, and horizontal communication.

Health: Protecting mental health in a hybrid model, as well as providing material support, is vital.

  • 36% want to see more investment in online mental health support resources and 34% want to make talking about mental health with colleagues a norm.

Pay: Recognizing the contributions of skilled staff in a distributed model is essential to success.

  • 38% are concerned about promotions or raises as a hybrid employee, specifically that if a boss doesn’t see them at work, others might be promoted first.

This last point should make organizations particularly wary. Staff that don’t feel valued will leave. Given there is already an industry battle for the top talent in full flow, organizations need to avoid this fate. Ensuring employees are appreciated and rewarded is hugely important in a hybrid world.

Leveling Up: Embracing Real-Time and Automated Work

Hybrid working promises the best of both worlds: the connections and experiences of in-person collaboration with the flexibility and freedom of remote work. However, organizations also need to be prepared to level up their ITOps and DevOps functions to make it successful. Modernizing digital operations is essential to delivering the technological, structural, and cultural changes required.

In the hybrid era, where we are all more reliant on digital tools and services, the demand for real-time digital operations is growing. An effective hybrid environment should not translate to more pressure on ITOps and DevOps teams. Increased use of automation to reduce toil will be key, as is investment in AIOps to identify and resolve issues in real-time.

To download a copy of the report, “The Future of the Workplace: 69% of IT and DevOps Professionals Say Hybrid Work is Here to Stay,” click here.

*813 respondents from the UK, Australia and the U.S, in IT and development roles – survey conducted May 2021.