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Minding the Hole – Navigating the Hybrid Work Digital Divide


During the onset of the pandemic, most organizations did their best to either enhance or add “Remote work” capabilities.  While this initial reaction is understandable, it only solves a piece of the puzzle.  There are still opportunities for enhancement.  For example, how will organizations ensure remote work is secure, flexible, and collaborative?   How will they handle workers returning to the office?  And most importantly, how will they address the Digital Divide caused by a hybrid or distributed workforce?

The idea of the Digital Divide is nothing new but has become exacerbated as organizations apply legacy tools and concepts to remote work.  It is no longer enough to provide “remote access” to organizational resources.  Organizations must ensure that distributed users or those on site can collaborate seamlessly and with an equal voice to ensure the best overall experience.  The seamless nature of the experience is vital as it will be the primary factor in promoting the desired team culture.  Technology can act as a tool to address some of this, but organizations will need to evolve their technology strategies to achieve enhanced outcomes.  These outcomes will need to focus on the worker’s experience irrespective of how they access an organization’s resources.

Organizations must provide flexible resource access to their employees and secure on-premise environments that enforce policies to protect organizational assets programmatically.

In other words, organizations must prioritize efforts to deliver “Secure Access,” which will provide the capability to secure data no matter how it’s accessed.  Whether from a client’s home, coffee shop, or shared space (distributed).  When a client enters a facility owned by an organization (on-premise), their connections are controlled by a policy that ensures the user’s device is secure before providing further resource access. Additionally, organizations will want to provide safety-related information describing how many clients are on-premise and their location within the premises.

Another critical outcome is the delivery of flexible and secure collaboration.  Not solely the ability to video conference, but to truly collaborate; this includes messaging, whiteboarding, event hosting, and external calling.  The collaboration suite should allow multiple types of collaboration devices to facilitate collaboration in meeting rooms, huddle spaces, and executive offices.  The platform should provide central management, policy enforcement, and easy integration with calendaring applications to make the reservation of resources seamless for clients.  Policy enforcement can range from controlling the number of occupants in a room to resource access restrictions.

These outcomes are the foundation for what’s needed as Distributed Work continues to evolve.  A vital element of either is a policy-driven intent-based architecture that allows for a flexible and adaptive environment that proactively ensures the most optimal and secure client digital experience.  Again, technology can help on this journey; but it is not the sole element in navigating this evolution of work.  Human empathy will also be a key element.  We’ll need to ensure organizations use technology to promote an environment where being remote is a thing of the past and that productive teams will continue to be distributed.  Only Cisco is positioned to help companies bridge the digital divide; through technology, innovation, and empowering an inclusive future for all.

Onward and Upward


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