With mass adoption of hybrid and hyflex working, Frank Weishaupt offers three useful tips on keeping ahead of the game.
Digital transformation within businesses has been around for quite some time, it was simply sped up by the extraordinary circumstances we found ourselves in last year.
As the world shifted to remote work due to forced government-imposed restrictions, countless industries and organisations, who once thought work from home (WFH) was unsuitable for their teams, were forced to implement procedures, practices and technology to enable employees to work from home.
Now, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and as offices slowly and safely start to reopen, companies are looking to the future of work, which is increasingly looking like it will take a hyflex (hybrid-meets-flexible) form as we move toward a post-pandemic future.
Five years ago hybrid working was considered a progressive tactic for some businesses, however the past year has shown the countless benefits of working from home, whether it be increased productivity, better work-life balance or increased savings.
In a recent State of Remote Work Survey it was revealed that 77% of people agree that after COVID-19, being able to WFH would make them happier. This, along with one in two people claiming they won’t return to jobs that don’t have remote work policies, demonstrates the increasing demand for a more flexible work model.
Ensuring that those who are working remotely while others are in the office do not get left behind either in the innovation process or the everyday communications, is crucial for efficient hybrid work
Big businesses are now also waking up to the future of work, for example Nationwide has recently announced plans to introduce a work from anywhere (WFA) policy for its 13,000 employees, in response to employees demanding more flexible working conditions.
In order to fully benefit from hybrid and hyflex working, companies need to start planning now on how they will keep employees connected and stay productive in a post-pandemic, hybrid working environment. Organisations now have a chance to make this shift in an efficient and effective manner. However, there are gaps in technology that need to be filled in order to make this transition as smooth as possible.
The shift towards hybrid offices
Despite the many benefits of working from home, a year of exclusively remote work has had its challenges – especially when the right tools are either unavailable or not adequately implemented. Comfortable remote work is tricky when only 20-25% of companies pay or share the cost of home office equipment . Despite this, 75% of people are experiencing increased productivity.
What is clear, is employees are increasingly realising what home working environments work for them. Since not everyone is suited to working from home, employees are now expecting their employers to start implementing policies which support their unique needs. Hybrid work models are now offering employees the flexibility to find a system which works for them.
Whilst hybrid and hyflex work models are the key for the future of work, there are, as with any working situation, pros and cons of a hybrid workforce. Addressing the cons and overcoming those challenges is what needs to be done effectively.
The pros, as discussed above include the employee flexibility and the increased productivity that hybrid working allows. However benefits can be limited if businesses don’t implement the right technology to facilitate communication and collaboration between in office employees and remote employees.
Creating an environment which facilitates productivity in a hybrid office environment will ultimately depend on the technology and equipment businesses introduce.
How tech can fill the gaps
As we move towards hybrid working, businesses need to start implementing the necessary technology in order to maximise the benefits of a hybrid workspace. There is now an opportunity for businesses to be more mindful and strategise their move towards hybrid working as offices begin to open up.
The lack of adequate communication and collaboration tools act as a key barrier to employees and businesses. However, the necessary technology isn’t difficult to introduce and can be implemented quickly.
Additionally, whether it is communication tools like Slack or video conferencing software such as Zoom, technology is the foundation of our working lives. Technology for the workplace doesn’t have to take months, and should be introduced as soon as possible in order to prevent hybrid teams feeling disjointed with the favour going towards those in the office.
The quicker companies adopt these tools and get up to speed with them, the less friction the transition to hybrid working will be.
How to implement the tech you need for a hybrid office
In order for your team to thrive in a hybrid work environment, implementing the right tools is a must. Here are three top tips on the tech you need to focus on to get your hybrid office up and running quickly and efficiently.
- First, a reliable video conferencing tool is crucial to be able to connect your team wherever they may be. In a hybrid environment, an adequate video conferencing camera that captures your entire team for those at home is key. A 360-degree video conferencing camera allows remote employees to see and hear everyone in the physical room in a way that two-dimensional video conferencing does not. Once teams start to have that hybrid function, technology will need to evolve to capture the interactions in a way that works for both in-person team members and remote team members.
- Another essential technology tool for hybrid teams are any asynchronous communication tools. These allow for remote employees to be kept in the loop and never miss a message from the office. Communication tools such as Slack or Microsoft Teams are another key tool for successful hybrid teams. Other asynchronous tools like document editing software that allows real-time collaboration are ideal for hybrid teams. Ensuring that those who are working remotely while others are in the office do not get left behind either in the innovation process or the everyday communications, is crucial for efficient hybrid work.
- Project management tools that allow for everyone to have visibility of what needs to get done are another great asset for the hybrid workforce. Tools such as Asana or Monday.com help all members of the team, no matter where they are working, to collaborate on projects. It also prevents the miscommunication about what each person has to do that can occur when teams are spread across multiple locations.
It is clear hybrid working is here to stay and technology has the vital role in ensuring its success when offices start to open safely. It’s up to organisations to prepare their workforce adequately to avoid the foreseeable shortcomings that can come with this new form of work by implementing the necessary technology now.
About the author
Frank Weishaupt is CEO of Owl Labs