Already in 2023, we are seeing a new set of challenges for companies worldwide, says Weston Morris.

As the recession deepens, HR leaders are navigating a landscape in which they need to keep staffing costs down, while guaranteeing customer satisfaction and retaining their best talent. At the same time, they need to ensure employees are thriving in a working world that has become even more digitised and hybrid than ever before.

Remote and in-office workers will need gaps bridged between them, employee experiences have to be paramount, and all devices – from the latest innovations to the trusted laptop – will need to be fully secured, wherever employees are working from. It’s going to be another year full of change, but there are some things HR teams can do to help their business reap the benefits of the digital workplace throughout 2023 and beyond.

Prioritise employee experience during an economic downturn

During an economic downturn, it’s imperative companies keep their customers happy. Doing this means thriving in three key areas: customer experience, customer loyalty and customer referrals. Yet, many organisations fail to realise that the key to all of these things is happy staff.

Research proves there’s a direct correlation between satisfied staff and customer satisfaction, which is why the companies who prioritise employee experience in 2023 will be better positioned than the organisations who cast it aside. This is where HR teams should be considering dedicated employee experience programmes.

An employee experience programme has many benefits. It can eliminate IT down-time, increase employee engagement, and increase employee loyalty. Furthermore, as keeping employees happy plays a big part in staff retention, a programme can help lower recruitment costs during difficult financial periods, such as the economy we’re currently in.

Create technology parity between remote and in-office workers

The majority of businesses today have already established some form of remote working policy. However, getting hybrid working spot on will be a game-changer in 2023. To create flourishing hybrid workforces, technology parity will need to exist between remote and in-office workers. While working to ensure employees both in and out of the office are equipped to do their jobs, HR teams will need to highlight the risks associated with remote working, including how to control physical access to any corporate devices used away from the office.

Hybrid working can also often lead to two cultures, one for those who are remote and one for those who are physically together. Measuring and improving employee experience of both will be integral to improving agility, security and productivity in 2023. By taking advantage of an Organisational Change Management (OCM) programme, companies can highlight the desired behaviour of all their employees, as well as reduce human error security risks associated with hybrid working.

Form an HR and CIO bond

This year should be the year of the great collaboration between HR teams and CIOs. If HR managers can build a rapport with their IT teams, then we’ll see more truly ‘digital workplaces’. Mitigating against one of the biggest pain points for companies, the partnership will see all new employees quickly onboarded with the right digital technologies – whether they want to work in the office or remotely. Devices under this regime can be instantly provisioned, which means new team members can get up and running with their work straight away. It also allows for data-driven OCM programmes to guide new employees to company business goals.

Another thing to note is that, in 2023, data will continue to be integral to improving experience and productivity, and while employees are willing to share usage and performance data from their networks, devices and applications to reduce or eliminate IT down-time, they are not willing to engage with data-sharing if it feels invasive to their privacy. Pulling on their new-found partnership, HR teams should work together with their CIOs to ensure they are getting this balance right.

Zero trust when it comes to shiny new – as well as the more traditional – devices

With the use of employee devices rising and an increase in the number of IoT or AR/VR devices being used in smart offices, companies should prepare for additional management and security in order to combat the new sets of vulnerabilities associated with these technologies. Some organisations are looking at how they can incorporate innovations like the metaverse into their working processes, for instance, but rules and regulations will need to be set for doing this, and for accessing sensitive company information via devices such as headsets.

To reduce the complexity these new devices bring, companies should continuously run Proof of Concept tests (POC) to identify any weaknesses in their IT infrastructure, and use a mainstream device management platform for oversight. If staff are using devices other than laptops and mobile phones for work, then the same zero-trust models should be deployed with these to ensure remote workers’ devices are kept secure from threats as those that are used by staff in the office.

Prepare your digital workplace now

When done right, a well-managed digital workplace can create happy employees, happy customers, and a fully secured, productive hybrid working environment. All of the above will be critical components of a thriving business in 2023 so, if they haven’t already, HR leaders should start looking at the steps they need to take to create one now. Of course, it’s no mean feat to do it alone, but with support from experts in the area, they can get moving with the programmes and solutions that will set them up for success not just in 2023 – but for years to come.


Weston Morris is the Director of Global Strategy and Digital Workplace Solutions at Unisys.