In today’s highly competitive labor market, employers are paying more attention than ever to the desires of their workers. And according to a recent study by the jobs platform, FlexJobs, a full two-thirds of those who have worked remotely have no desire to return to the office.
The pandemic showed us a realistic alternative to the daily office routine, and now many workers simply aren’t interested in a return to the “before times”. Here’s what’s become clear: If company culture is meant to be rooted in values, investing in a flexible, remote-friendly work model can only make that culture stronger. Why? Because it proves that the company values its employees' concerns. Failing to take action can have the opposite effect, resulting in lower morale and higher turnover, especially among millennial and Gen Z workers.
But embracing an employee-focused, remote-friendly approach to the workplace can’t happen at the expense of other important business imperatives, like growth and security. Recently, “enterprise-grade” has emerged as the go-to term businesses are seeking as they map out their operational blueprints for the new normal. It signifies security, supports growth, and is quickly becoming synonymous with peace of mind.
One term, many meanings
Enterprise-grade, like other oft bandied-about buzzwords, can mean different things to different audiences. “Open and compatible”, “customizable”, “easy to use and adopt” – these are all descriptors for a term insiders have struggled to define ever since it entered the lexicon. And when was that, exactly? When SaaS (Software as a Service) or mobile apps intended for consumers started finding their way into the business community and its processes, the term “enterprise-grade” was born.
Plenty of resources provide still broader definitions. We like Technopedia’s user-friendly take, with one important caveat. It describes enterprise-grade as “applications that are robust and scalable across large organizations.” This is clear and even makes intuitive sense. After all, the needs of enterprise organizations should differ from individuals. But it’s also true that enterprise-grade isn’t exclusively the domain of big business. Rather, and especially when referring to hybrid work, it’s beneficial to think of enterprise-grade as a stamp of approval worth seeking out, no matter the organization’s size.
In the context of hybrid work
Let’s talk specifics. Any software platform that claims to be enterprise-grade, or enterprise-class, as it’s sometimes called, is effectively saying, Rest easy, we’ve got your back.
For leaders of organizations looking to implement hybrid work strategies on behalf of their employees, this extra layer of vigilance is evidenced through a cross-section of reassuring features.
One platform, many spaces
Can all of your hybrid space be procured, and can your custom workplace strategy be managed, on a single platform?
Is your solution powerful enough to provide the real-time data visibility and insights workplace leaders like you need to make future decisions?
Does it simplify the legal aspects of your business? Does it deploy smart contracts?
Does it support integration with other applications? For example, can it offer centralized payment and cost-center reporting to simplify administrative work and reduce overhead?
Is it customizable? Can it support the ability to add or subtract users, and enable you to grant team and individual-level permissions to access and spend?
Enterprise-grade isn’t about any one of these features; it combines all of them; it’s about placing all of them in the service of your organization and its people. And, again, company size is beside the point.
Valuable no matter the company’s size
There are plenty of differences between SMB and enterprise businesses. The value of deploying an enterprise-grade solution to their hybrid workplace needs isn’t one of them. After all, what business wouldn’t want a solution that is easy to use and adopt, supports secure, frictionless customer experiences and provides relevant data inputs they can leverage to stay ahead of the competition?
To begin with, hybrid workplace solutions are not size contingent. Employees of companies of all sizes want workplace freedom. And they’re willing to leave their jobs if they don’t get it. They also increasingly have the mood of the times on their side. According to the Wall Street Journal, office use is on average roughly half of what it was during the pre-pandemic days of 2020. Companies of all sizes are adopting for flexibility, with 87% of executives surveyed by the WSJ saying they have plans to consolidate operations and open more satellite offices. When work from anywhere and hire from anywhere make city living strictly optional, the tide has officially turned. Human capital and workplace culture aren’t enterprise issues, they’re business issues, period.
Similarly, just because a business is smaller doesn’t mean it should act small on matters of privacy and consumer protection. Cyber attacks are on the rise for companies of all sizes. In some ways, smaller businesses, with fewer people juggling more responsibilities and more limited resources to boot, are more exposed. The availability of enterprise-grade solutions helps to level the playing field.
Data security matters to all customers, not only customers of large businesses. An enterprise-grade hybrid solution should support companies with tens of thousands of users; it should enable flexibility, not block it. Above all, it’s a class of service that can help organizations of all sizes codify the many benefits of remote work in the post-pandemic era.
Times have changed. The workplace is changing, too. Employees today have higher expectations than ever, and those expectations include workplace choice. Accordingly, employers need to be more open-minded than ever before and workplace culture needs to offer more flexibility.
It’s no surprise, then, that within this shifting workplace dynamic, company leaders are seeking out enterprise-grade solutions to support their nascent hybrid workplace strategies. While the temptation might be to brush off the reference as marketing-speak, unpacking what it means to have a platform that’s both “robust" and “scalable” at your fingertips, it becomes clear that enterprise-grade can be beneficial to one’s business, regardless of its size.
It’s more than a buzzword – it’s a competitive advantage tailor made for the new era of work.