How to enable the new hybrid workforce

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The past nine months have thrown into question much of what we took for granted about doing business. Think your workers can only be productive in the office? Think again. Consider your front line a lower priority? Turns out they’re the most essential. 

The pandemic has ushered in many of these new realities and realizations—and one of the most important is that the hybrid workforce is here to stay. While the distribution of wired desk workers, remote employees, frontline workers, and teams in the field will likely shift year to year, every large workforce will include all four of these categories for the foreseeable future. To quote IDC’s latest Technology Spotlight report, “What’s certain in a world of uncertainty is that we will not return to the ways of working from 2019.”

The enterprises that invest in the needs of this workforce are likely to win the market in 2021 and beyond. According to IDC’s COVID-19 survey data, “47% of organizations that had longer-term digital transformation strategies and investments before the pandemic are showing strong signs of business growth.” However, the companies that struggle to enable their workers may continue to face difficulties in the economic recovery. 

5 critical challenges facing the hybrid workforce

Even with the large amount of digitization companies have undergone since the start of the pandemic, employees still struggle with information access, information overload, communication and collaboration. According to a May 2020 IDC poll, “respondents working from home had difficulty not only accessing data, content, and/or applications but also communicating with other team members.” 

The Technology Spotlight report lists a number of key pain points for employees. These were the top 5 according to respondents: 

  • Dealing with inefficient and/or manual processes
  • Communicating and/or collaborating with internal colleagues
  • Communicating and/or collaborating with external stakeholders
  • Getting status of processes (lack of visibility into processes)
  • Coping with a lack of effective remote access

Added to these challenges is the fact that the distribution of the workforce will likely continue to shift between the desk worker, frontline and remote categories. IDC predictions indicate that “By 2024, two-thirds of employees in high-performing G2000 enterprises will shift from static roles and processes to dynamic, multidisciplinary, and outcome-focused reconfigurable teams.”

So knowing that the makeup of teams will continue to change, how can enterprise companies ensure that they make the right technology investments for the future?

The answer: an intelligent digital workspace with “anywhere access”

The Technology Spotlight report suggests that to prepare for the work environment of the 2020s, organizations should invest in building an intelligent digital workspace. This means creating a work environment that gives every employee the digital experience they need to do their jobs productively and efficiently. Among other things, an intelligent digital workplace:

  • Provides technology parity for every worker, regardless of role
  • Makes it easy to provision and deprovision users as their roles dynamically change
  • Connects an array of devices and endpoints depending on the needs of workers
  • Provides the right information, applications, resources and services to each employee
  • Makes accessing all of these items frictionless for users, no matter where they are
  • Offers analytics capabilities that optimize personalization 

For CIOs and IT Directors, the success of their initiatives and the success of their entire organization may well rest on getting the digital workspace right. Doing that requires building it to be nimble, adaptable—in a word, intelligent.  

Intelligent orchestration: the solution to the digital workspace puzzle

According to IDC, key elements of the intelligent digital workspace include “An infrastructure layer [that] sets guardrails and controls the framework for the digital workspace, providing identity authentication, provisioning, management, monitoring, and support. APIs [that] connect to other applications, and a personalized user interface allows workers access to the key tools, data, and information they need.”

There is a word to describe all of these processes and capabilities together: orchestration. 

What is orchestration? 

Orchestration is a technology term that comes from the customer experience (CX) world. As each consumer goes on a customer journey of researching, making and evaluating a purchase, they have numerous interactions with brands along the way. Orchestration is the process of personalizing all of these interactions—i.e. the whole experience—for the customer. 

Think about when you make a purchase on Amazon: you compare products, read reviews, make a purchase and perhaps review the purchase yourself. Orchestration is when Amazon designs each of those experiences just for you, showing you the products that best match your interests, the reviews that are likely to be relevant to you, and the payment and delivery options that best match your preferences. 

What IDC suggests is that companies need to apply these same principles to the digital workspace and start orchestrating the digital experience of each employee. Orchestration would control and guide all the elements of the experience, as shown in the diagram below. 

How Firstup orchestrates the digital experience for a hybrid workforce

Orchestration is at the core of the Firstup platform. Our powerful orchestration engine gathers data from a company’s HR system and other key enterprise systems, and uses that data to intelligently deliver the right tools, resources and systems access to each employee on whichever device or endpoint they prefer to use. A digital chatbot called Firstup Assistant allows every worker to perform 2-way interactions with the systems and applications they need for work, right from within the platform. 

When companies need to reach their employees with critical information like policy changes and crisis communications, Firstup enables them to target these messages to the right employees, groups and locations. Automation features follow up to make sure the communications are received, reviewed and responded to by employees. Unified analytics measures this employee response across every endpoint, helping companies optimize how they engage with their people. 

When employee roles change, the systems access, tools and information they receive are automatically updated—one of the hallmarks of the intelligent digital workspace. This makes Firstup ideal not only for the hybrid workforce, but for the dynamic workforce of the future as well. 


The hybrid workforce is here to stay, and the companies that invest in enabling it are the ones that will lead the pack, regardless of industry. Get IDC’s guidance on how to best support employees in every role with an intelligent digital workplace, and learn what the market research leader had to say about the impact of the Firstup orchestration engine.

Download the full Technology Spotlight report here

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