Modern workplaces

Swisscom looking to the hybrid cloud

Throughout the course of digitisation, there have been increasing demands being placed on modern workplaces. Employees are demanding mobile and flexible working methods and a high level of reliability, while companies are looking to profit from digitisation. Swisscom is focusing on hybrid-cloud-based workplaces.

Text: Jörg Rothweiler, Images: Montage, august 2018

Modern workplaces have to meet a wide range of criteria. On the technical side, there is a great focus on mobile availability, high agility in processing power, the highest level of data security as well as efficient hardware and software management. However, when it comes to the interface to humans, individual employee roles have to be optimally configured to ensure that all of their tasks and duties can be completed efficiently and ideal working relationships can be created.

Unfortunately, it is more difficult to find a common denominator for humans than it is for office environments, devices or applications, which is why there are widely varying needs as regards personal workplaces. A qualitative survey conducted by Swisscom among employees at all hierarchical levels of its Enterprise customers revealed that there are generally two different types of employees. On one side, there are the “traditional” employees. They attach great value to a fixed, personal workplace in an open-plan office or an individual office, are quite strict in separating their private and professional lives, work with the same tools all the time and find it easy to switch between the analogue and digital worlds. On the other side, there are the “modern workers”. They work as mobile and as flexible as possible, and don’t care much for fixed workplaces. In addition, they like to choose for themselves which devices and applications they use, and prefer to work on digital networks and without the need for paper.

Freely available, simple and flexible

Despite these differences, there are two points on which all employees unanimously agree – the digital workplace should offer maximum reliability and authentication must be made to be as easy as possible. “Modern workers” also find flexibility to be very important, whereas “traditional” employees prefer stability and continuity. Furthermore, employees today expect business and collaboration applications to work together seamlessly and automation to make their jobs much easier. Tools that take care of repetitive tasks at the touch of a button or provide assistance in dealing with complicated work steps are therefore widely accepted.

What is management focused on?

CEOs, CFOs and CIOs first and foremost focus on workplace management. They want to cut costs, improve security and efficiency, avoid bad investments and therefore implement future-proof technologies. They know that the digital world is shaped by high speeds, a great many new business models and the digital natives entering the employment market. Digital natives attach great value to meaningful activities and a good work-life balance, and also want digital networks at the workplace to function as well as they do in their private lives. If management don’t want to get left behind in their efforts to recruit top-quality junior staff, they have to take these expectations into consideration. In order to keep pace with the competition in this dynamic environment, it is important that financial and personnel resources are used in a targeted manner so as to exploit the vast potential offered by digitisation.

Modern workplaces at Swisscom

As a result, Swisscom has been implementing the “Work Smart” culture since 2012. Under the label #WorkSmart NOW (NOW = New Optimised Workplace), Swisscom entered the second stage of the transformation, rolling out a working environment for the networked working world of the future. At the heart of this environment are hybrid services that combine Microsoft Office 365 as a Software-as-a-Service solution together with “on-premises” services from the internal data centre to provide a powerful solution. Exchange Online, OneDrive for Business, SharePoint Online, and other Office 365 Services are hosted on the Enterprise Public Cloud, with the data always being encrypted (on an end-to-end basis) to ensure a high level of security in transfers to Office 365 and the servers. In addition, Swisscom has enhanced the Office 365 package with a great deal of proprietary technology and experience (intellectual property) and also uses additional specially configured services. Microsoft Teams is used as a hub to bundle planning, data storage, exchange and notes functions together in one application. Collaboration thus becomes more context-based and simpler.

Mail boxes, SharePoint sites, the employee portal, business applications and internal apps such as Swisscom myCloud will all remain “on premises”. OneDrive for Business will likewise also be hosted in the Swiss data centre so that it can be used by employees who work with information that must be stored in Switzerland.

The advantages of the hybrid cloud

For employees, the hybrid services provide a highly available working environment that offers greater stability and usability in addition to more services (e.g. MS Teams and MS Planner) and storage capacity. Individual profiles allow for workplaces to be adapted according to different roles. Employees can access the systems and data using a wide range of devices, but data (e.g. e-mails, calendars, contacts and OneDrive for Business) may only be synchronised to registered end devices. When registering an end device, this is recognised as a factor – and the employee has to go through a transparent multi-factor authentication process, which makes the handling of sensitive data safer.

This also benefits the company. The operation, support and life cycle of applications is simplified, costs fall and there is an increase in security. The hybrid cloud meets all legal, contractual, regulatory and security requirements. The main consideration here is that all data is encrypted on an end-to-end basis.

The working world of the future is hybrid

With the #WorkSmart NOW project, Swisscom is making progress towards implementing a future-oriented working environment, playing an active role in creating a paradigm shift, and gaining valuable experience that ultimately also benefits its customers, as they are also showing an interest in hybrid workplaces. They meet all of their technical needs, fulfil the wishes of management and are valued by both “traditional” employees and “modern workers”.

For in-depth information on the criteria that modern workplaces have to meet, as well as on the opportunities and benefits offered by hybrid-cloud-based workplaces, please read the “Modern workplaces: The advantages of the hybrid Cloud” whitepaper, which can be downloaded for free.


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