You don’t need me to tell you that the way we work has changed. The COVID-19 stay-at-home orders effectively created a mass experiment in remote work, one that many businesses and employees feel was – for most parts – a success. And as such, our return to work will no longer be as simple as going back to how we were. The office will no longer be the epicenter of all actions; instead it will become the central hub for a flexible, dispersed workforce who may only spend 50% of their time at a common physical location.
This hybrid working model sounds great in principle, but so far it’s only really been talked about in theory. So here are some practical tips on how to approach this for your business, and why it requires seamless connectivity coupled with access to the right digital tools to make it work long term.
Working out the logistics
Firstly, proactive workplace management will be key. If hybrid work for your business simply means everyone comes in Tuesday – Thursday and works remotely Monday and Fridays, you’re not likely going to find it effective. To truly embrace the hybrid workstyle, you need to overthrow the traditional ownership-based model where every employee is designated a desk and instead reimagine the office as a hub that strengthens connections, learning and innovation.
To do this, think about where teams benefit from in-person meetings or workshops, and how to encourage inter-department networking. This could result in some teams coming in on designated days, and others on a separate one, but once a month aligning to be there at the same time and share ideas. Cross functional teams working on longer term projects may have a dedicated space for the duration of the project. The principle should be that to work in a flexible manner, we need to also be flexible with our schedules and pivot to support the projects and team member needs at any given time, not simply shift to designating days where the office becomes an empty storage space.
As part of this, it’s also important to create a ‘work anywhere’ mentality where culture thrives regardless of location. Otherwise you may face employees going into the office at a detriment to their productivity, as they fear they may be missing out on the buzz and social connectivity in-person interaction brings.
To build this culture, you should start by making sure employees are equipped with the digital tools and applications they need to be productive, wherever they happen to be. And that includes tech and audio equipment that actually works – otherwise we all know the stress that repeating ‘Can you hear me?’ can cause at the start of a meeting.
To really build that culture though, is to ensure your team feel they have your trust to manage themselves. Capgemini’s recent Remote Workforce study* found that of the employees who feel they are being micromanaged, 66% also feel burnt out in a remote setup.
This highlights how important it is to design a future way of working where employees feel valued, and have the work life balance needed to sustain productivity gains. To do this, you could look at empowering employees through data. By integrating systems and providing easier connectivity, employees can get access to data at the speed at which they need to make decisions. This smooth exchange of information is especially important in a remote setup.
Enabling seamless communications
If you haven’t realized by now, there’s a common theme in making hybrid working a success: it requires efficient communication tools and integrated connectivity to truly bridge the gap of reality and virtual. Recent studies into sound experience** discovered that 95% of workers admit that concentration and efficiency at work are negatively affected by noise. In fact, it was calculated that end users are losing around 29 minutes of productive time each week due to poor sound quality on voice calls.
With the ubiquitous presence of high bandwidth data connections and the rapid expansion of 5G networks, the solution to many of these problems can be found in new software-based communication solutions. When it’s time to upgrade, modern solutions offer additional communication perks beyond simply voice. Instant messaging, presence, video calling and collaboration tools in the cloud provide business capabilities that are designed to keep you operating optimally and at maximum productivity.
Work smarter with the intelligent connected workplace
Not only can offering hybrid working support employee retention through greater wellbeing, you can also expect benefits including: greater productivity, improved workflow, increased data capture and lower running costs. We’re here to help you gain an adaptive advantage by providing seamless connectivity through our Intelligent Connected Workplace solutions portfolio. Find out more online.
*Capgemini Research Institute, Remote workforce survey, September-October 2020, N=5,016 employees.
** EPOS Understanding Sound Experience Study, April 2020, N=2,500 end-users