Hybrid workplaces have been the coming thing for a few years now, but the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 was the catalyst that has brought them front and center.
While dispersed teams, remote and flexible working, and cloud computing have all been growing in popularity over the last five years, the situation of the last year and a half has meant that businesses across the world have had to engage with these new ways of working.
Even as the pandemic slowly recedes and organizations begin to consider a return to normality, hybrid working is likely here to stay. But is your company genuinely prepared to take advantage?
One huge problem is that plenty of organizations don’t have the right tech to leverage the benefits of hybrid working. This can make the switch difficult and encourage the idea that it is not as effective as in-office work when really it is a problem with implementation.
Tech stacks often don’t integrate properly with each other, which means that staff are doing twice the work and struggling against unnecessary bottlenecks and pain points.
Recent research from content enablement platform Templafy showed that workers in the UK spent “large amounts of time” switching between a variety of disconnected applications, becoming overwhelmed and frustrated as a result. This is something that can be extrapolated and seen in industries and sectors around the world.
For hybrid workplaces, technology is the vital infrastructure, the catalyst, and the basic tools that allow them to function. Tech that integrates into daily workflows and solves problems before they arise is a crucial aspect of hybrid work and the first thing that organizations need to address.
This often means a reassessment of current working practices and processes, staff training programs, and consistent, organization-wide application.
How to Prepare for Hybrid Work
One of the biggest challenges for hybrid workplaces is getting the balance right. Businesses that work entirely remotely, or who plan to return to a full in-office complement, can obviously focus their efforts on providing for just one type of worker.
But hybrid workplaces need to be far more flexible and accommodate a far wider range of working processes.
Remote workers are entirely based outside of the office and will work using communication and collaboration software to function as a team. This style of working is the most varied, as some remote workers will be completely location-independent, moving from place to place on a regular basis, while others will be settled in one location.
Co-located or in-office workers are the traditional office workers. Although the positive aspects of remote working have been demonstrated resoundingly over the last couple of years, there are plenty of roles that still rely on or benefit from face-to-face interactions, and many jobs that require hands-on work and physical presence. As a result, in-office workers will continue to be an important part of almost every business.
Hybrid work is becoming increasingly common and popular, and while it requires flexibility and support to get right it can be a hugely beneficial way of working. Hybrid workers essentially choose to work where they are most productive, spending some time in a physical office space to take advantage of the benefits of face-to-face contact, meetings, and so on, while the rest of their time is spent elsewhere, location-independent. A hybrid office allows businesses to get the most out of their employees, giving them the independence to make their own decisions and allowing them to work however they are most efficient, effective, and productive.
What You Need
Spaces for 1:1 Conversations
Changing the office layout to support productive collaboration between co-located and remote colleagues can have a big impact. The biggest challenge of remote or hybrid working is communication, specifically replicating the benefits of 1:1 conversations that happen in a traditional office. Designated spaces where staff in the office can speak to their remote colleagues privately and straightforwardly are very important, and allow productivity to continue unchallenged.
Video conferencing tools
There are loads of excellent communication tools for dispersed teams, but speaking face-to-face (even when you aren’t in the same physical location) remains crucial to effective working.
It is vital to invest in simple, high quality video conferencing systems in order to adequately connect in-office workers with dispersed employees.
Room Booking Systems
Setting up an efficient room booking system helps keep everything running smoothly, prevents speed bumps and roadblocks in communication and working processes, and avoids collaboration between in-office and remote employees taking longer than necessary.
All meeting rooms in your physical office should be equipped with a room booking system. This means that physically present workers are able to start meetings with dispersed members of their teams quickly and straightforwardly without having to spend time hunting around for a free meeting room.
For the most efficient hybrid office, “flex-desking” is a must. A flex-desk system means that rather than static, fixed desk spaces, staff book desks every morning when they arrive. This means that hybrid workers can always find a desk in the physical office when they need to work on-site, but also doesn’t waste space when they don’t. It is also a bonus for a more creative, productive working environment, as employees are always sharing ideas and working close to new people and in new environments.
Flexible desking also helps you use all your resources to their fullest, as the office doesn’t have to be equipped with an individual desk for every employee.
Flex-desking is most effective when part of a flexible workspace overall, where co-located workers are able to work fluidly across a range of different working environments depending on their needs.
When it comes to hybrid work, sometimes the simplest things can be the hardest. So when hybrid workers come to work in the physical office, just knowing where to go and where everything is that they need to do their job can be a huge advantage. Quite literally, even just knowing where the toilets and the kitchens are is a good start!
Office wayfinding makes it far easier for hybrid employees to find their way around when they are working from the office. An interactive map of the office including all meeting rooms, workspaces, huddles, desks, tech, and resources that workers might need ensures that no time is wasted searching for what they need. It is also a useful resource for traditional in-office employees as well, cementing their knowledge of where everything is to ensure enhanced productivity.
Cloud solutions are a must for a hybrid workplace. They allow you to create a virtual workspace and storage facility that enables dispersed teams to collaborate and work together as efficiently and effectively as if they were in a room together, and more so in many cases!
Cloud solutions allow multiple employees to work together on a single document, managing change control seamlessly. They allow remote workers to access the same files as in-office employees and offer smooth, streamlined communication and collaboration intra- and inter-team. Migrating to the cloud is an absolutely essential step in any move towards hybrid and remote working.
Remote Work Tools
Similarly, remote working tools that allow colleagues to work together and communicate simply and straightforwardly are vital, as well as software that automates processes that don’t require human input.
Tools like Office 365 essentially create an office that you hold in the palm of your hand, with an astonishing array of capabilities and functions that give each employee the power to work exactly as they need to do to ensure success.
When it comes to hybrid work, there is a lot to think about, but loads of resources to help you take advantage of the benefits of these new ways of working. Above all, you need to get your processes aligned, ensure that everyone understands how to work best with each other, and minimize bottlenecks and pain points caused by inadequate technology.
Hybrid working is going to be the way forward for modern businesses from 2021 onwards and being properly prepared will ensure that you are ready to succeed!