The global vaccination campaign still emerges as a serious bone of contention. However, it was also a catalyst that made many businesses get excited about reopening offices. Unfortunately, it’s not time yet. The past two years’ experience taught us that the traditional on-site-only job model has gone for good. Moreover, many of us aren’t ready to give up flexible work and autonomy. So, what’s next?
Now we are entering the era of the hybrid work model, which has proved itself to be an efficient solution to reconcile the two competing camps—those advocating office work and those against it. Regardless of which side you’re on, a hybrid workplace presents a strategic opportunity for your company to thrive. Why? Because it mixes the best practices of the two approaches, providing your employees with extensive flexibility. We regularly consult industry leaders on improving team management or accelerating IT innovation. But the pandemic has been genuinely disruptive—the rising popularity of remote work hit differently.
Today, we share the latest trends and top tips to turn your hybrid workplace into profits.
Welcome, the good old post-pandemic ‘new normal’
During lockdowns, most companies went remote abruptly, experiencing a shift to telecommuting that was painful for all parties involved. Employees were looking for ways to cure zoom fatigue and restore work-life balance. Meanwhile, management teams were doing their best to maintain collaboration and productivity at the pre-pandemic level. CXOs also spent hours negotiating with clients, trying to reassure them that a remote model actually works.
So, the pandemic has adjusted how we do business and meet workers’ needs for good, hasn’t it? Ironically, it brought some positivity, too, since the “work-from-anywhere” option became a net positive for employees’ satisfaction and productivity. In Slack’s survey, 72 percent of knowledge workers said they would prefer flexible work options from now on. That’s what the future of work will look like. Hybrid remote-office teams will give employees an opportunity to improve their well-being and mix work styles when needed.
How to become a hybrid work guru
Do you agree that the hybrid approach seems to be the most balanced solution compared to other work-from-home models? We sure do. But we also know that it brings in some challenges like corporate culture promotion, people motivation, and timely communication. So, below we share a checklist of the best ways for your company to go hybrid without compromising your business continuity.
1. Foster a flexible work culture
Start by investing in a corporate culture that reflects the new norms of your flexible workplace. On the one hand, it’s an excellent opportunity to take your values outside office walls. The goal is to help employees feel connected and enjoy a sense of belonging, no matter where they are. On the other hand, you should set some essential rules for hybrid work and let your staff know what you expect in return. Boundaries are still important, from general scheduling terms to dress code to work scopes and policies.
Below we list the main cultural aspects that your hybrid workplace strategy should cover:
- Home-office balance: Some companies set a fixed number of days for employees to work in the offices. Meanwhile, others leave it for workers to decide, which triggers higher loyalty and motivation rates. Select an approach that aligns with your business strategy and communicate it to your colleagues.
- Working hours and availability: Leave time slots for a few meetings during the day (this could be several hours or fewer).
- Simple daily practices: Use a creative approach to unite your employees. They can come to virtual meeting rooms 10 minutes before a formal meeting starts for a casual chat, for example.
2. Move to the cloud
For those companies that had been using cloud infrastructure before the pandemic, the transition to remote work happened literally overnight. Moreover, it went as smoothly as possible when the global chaos erupted. Those who had underestimated the benefits of cloud computing, experienced a different, more unpleasant scenario. Developing, setting up, and orchestrating virtual infrastructures take time and preparation. It’s simply impossible to transition in one day when doing it from scratch.
So, as experts in cloud technologies, we suggest you plan your cloud adoption way before going ahead with a hybrid work model. A well-managed cloud system becomes a secure, single source for your team members whenever they need any digital assets, documents, or tools. What’s more, it’s a perfect solution to unite your distributed employees and minimize the need to communicate outside a corporate platform. To help you start, we have a seven-step guide to take advantage of cloud technologies.
3. Prepare your office for hybrid work
Some employees are excited to return to their offices and meet colleagues in person. Others share concerns about constrained office space, shared surfaces and devices, and the lack of anti-COVID measures. That’s why workplace safety should be your number one priority when adjusting the office environment to a new reality.
Microsoft’s philosophy toward employees’ well-being in the COVID-19 outbreak times is a great example. The company implemented office hoteling—the practice of booking an office workspace and having fewer in-house workers at once. With that in mind, feel free to downsize your office and invest saved costs in ensuring safe working conditions instead.
4. Arm employees with the right digital weapons
Technology played a critical role in connecting people globally during the pandemic. Likewise, it can help you bridge the gap between your office and remote employees. In fact, it’s one of the essential steps to make your hybrid work model work.
Sixty-five percent of teleworkers who use remote technologies say online tools are a good substitute for in-person contact. But aside from video conferencing and communication software that you probably adopted long ago, we recommend scaling up your digital arsenal. Add the following tools to your stack to enhance enterprise-wide collaboration:
- Interactive whiteboards
- 360-degree cameras for video meetings
- Audio-focused software
- Mind-mapping apps
- AR/VR technologies
5. Combat workplace fatigue
Months in isolation have caused harm to all of us. But the so-called pandemic fatigue prevails among 75 percent of American employees amid the pandemic. Its symptoms echo traditional workplace fatigue, such as sleep deprivation or lack of motivation. But employees also feel extra anxious and sad. The stress, the panic, the feeling of uncertainty—all of it puts your team in danger of being mentally and physically exhausted.
If you’re aiming for a hybrid work model, think about the most effective practices to reduce workplace-related stress and mitigate risks of burnout. For instance, you can eliminate overtime, forgo working on weekends, and deal with meeting overload. Plus, you can encourage employees to develop healthy life habits—doing more physical activities at home, having enough sleep, and taking outdoor breaks.
6. Digitalize and automate business processes
As a part of an enterprise’s digital transformation, one unavoidable course of action is the automation of as many business processes as possible, from logistics to sales to finances. Coupled with digitalization, RPA streamlines operations and makes flexible work possible. Everyone then stays on the same page, and your remote workers don’t feel left out.
A few ways to go digital effectively are:
- Keep your business materials in one cloud-based system
- Reassess cybersecurity measures you have in place
- Use CRM software to organize and process collected data
- Communicate via instant messengers
- Adopt invoicing software to provide automated billing
- Leverage CoE to train your staff and prepare them for hybrid work
7. Seek managers’ support
Making your hybrid work-from-home strategy work is not an easy task, even if you’re an experienced leader. So, it’d be a good idea to join forces with more professionals from your management teams. The trick here is to provide them with enough autonomy and opportunities to demonstrate their skills. Managers can help you succeed with a hybrid model and improve the current employee experience by working with each hybrid team individually.
Let’s say you allow managers to approve employees’ home-office schedules or introduce unique practices such as “no-meeting” Fridays. Your workers will feel more comfortable negotiating with managers than with someone from an executive team. The effectiveness of this approach will surprise you, believe us. But sure, training managers is also crucial. Make sure they know how to maintain great working relationships in hybrid teams, handle absences, and more.
Hybrid work: embracing opportunities
As businesses recover from the global disaster, the question of returning to offices becomes urgent. Would it be the right decision to reopen facilities? Or would it do more harm than good? No one can say with a 100 percent guarantee. However, you can try to follow the example of those who’ve already benefited from a hybrid work model.
At TEAM, we have zero doubts that the “home office” is here to stay. So, hybrid arrangements are the only way out for those wanting to preserve some traditions. Be ready to take the best of both worlds—office and work-from-anywhere—and augment it with the right technology stack. It is a great opportunity for businesses to stay resilient while evolving and gaining a competitive edge.