Reply: Reply’s Hybrid Work Research Confirms That “Hybrid Work Is Not a Passing Trend”, as It Focuses on the Rapid Evolution of Technologies Designed to Support the New Ways of Working

Increased productivity and advanced collaboration are only two of the benefits the new hybrid work models bring and will soon be the new normal in the business world. This is precisely the outcome from the new Hybrid Work research carried with Reply’s Trend SONAR, the proprietary trend detection and monitoring platform based on Artificial Intelligence – with the support of PAC (Teknowlogy Group).

The research estimated the main market trends using sector studies and evidence collected from Reply customers. Data from two different clusters of countries were then compared: the “Europe-5” (Italy, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Belgium) and the “Big-5” (USA, United Kingdom, Brazil, China, India). The aim was to understand the maturity of the market after the spent year and a half of pandemic life.

Companies that have accelerated their digital transformation during the pandemic define the hybrid work model as popular, effective and performing –the very reasons why there will be no turning back.

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Aside from a few limitations related to remote collaboration, which technological innovation will increasingly be able to minimise, the new normal does not provide for a full-time return to physical workplaces as before, but rather for greater flexibility and hybrid work paradigms. This approach is expected to revolutionise office design, corporate culture and the overall employee experience. This scenario will benefit employees with better work-life balance and increase of work efficiency, as well as companies: smaller office spaces, flexible working hours, hiring of talent without the need for relocation.

As Filippo Rizzante, Reply CTO, mentions: “The digital world and technology have reshaped the future of the employee experience. Regardless of the specific working context, be it an office or a factory, hybrid work will increasingly be characterised by the support and collaboration of software or hardware based on artificial intelligence. This will be facilitated by greater data literacy and a propensity for digitisation which will not only be the prerogative of developers, but will instead play a key role for the entire workforce. The transition to remote and flexible working models will, to a certain extent, become a permanent fixture and the new corporate culture will have to welcome and embrace the digital dimension as an integral part of daily work routines, facilitating social connections and communication on site, as well as remotely. What’s more, themes such as sustainability and employee well-being will increasingly become an integral part of a company’s DNA.”

To enable the hybrid work scenario, information must be accessible in the cloud and seamless and instant collaboration must be made possible through the adoption of the right tools for each business and activity. At the infrastructure level, cloud computing is not just an option, it is becoming the standard that is driving hybrid architectures. Spending on public and private cloud technologies already represents more than half of the current global infrastructure spending and this is expected to reach two thirds by 2024.

This acceleration and migration is also fuelling investments in productivity tools that consist mostly of cloud-based and intelligent technologies. Reply’s study highlights that among the Europe-5 countries, this market is expected to reach €7.6 billion by 2025. The push towards cloud computing will also drive the market of the countries that make up the Big-5 cluster, which are expected to reach a market of €36 billion.

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Another trend highlighted by Reply’s research is the growth of hyperautomation; another approach based on Artificial Intelligence which extends the use of automation to value-added activities. By 2025, nearly half of the largest global companies are expected to support workers with smart technologies designed to assist with complex interactions.

Cybersecurity is also one of the main enabling technologies for hybrid work, precisely because one of the greatest obstacles to this type of work is the potential vulnerability of corporate networks. For this very reason, security is one of the major investment areas in 2021 and it is not expected to be a short-lived trend. It is estimated that by 2025 the market for end-user device security, in other words security solutions for PCs, smartphones, tablets and other corporate devices, will grow by 45% among the Big-5 countries and by 34% among the Europe-5 countries.

A strong focus on sustainability accompanies the Hybrid Work model: Reply’s research shows that the workforce, and in particular the new generations, search for companies that operate with a solid purpose, that act in a responsible and sustainable manner from an environmental point of view and that have the courage to take a stand in social and cultural debates – with clear and measurable corporate ESG standards. The well-being of the workforce, mental health and quality of life are gaining more relevance in the hybrid work environment, alongside physical safety.

Hybrid work has become an essential factor in retaining talent and when facing the great resignation phenomenon, with almost half of under 35s who, according to global data, are considering quitting their jobs if forced to return to the office full time. As the business landscape continues to change, organisations need to improve their existing capabilities and provide access to distance learning platforms. It is estimated that the Big-5’s spending on online learning platforms will increase by 48% by 2025 , reaching €16 billion, while among the Europe-5s this value will reach €2 billion.

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