A recent study has shown that 73% of employees want flexible work options to continue once restrictions ease, and 67% are craving more in-person time with their teams. This combination of statistics show that business leaders would be wise to listen to employees and start planning for a hybrid work model.
A move to a hybrid workplace has many of the benefits of both remote working and a full-time return to the office. However, this decision should not be taken lightly as there are many factors that must be considered to ensure that a hybrid work environment is effective and sets employees up for success.
Hybrid work needs to focus on employee wellbeing
One of the key considerations for an effective hybrid workplace strategy is a focus on employee wellbeing. If managed correctly a flexible hybrid working model should increase employee wellbeing through better work-life balance, reduce commuting time and costs and increase motivation and communication.
Although there are potentially many wellbeing benefits of hybrid working, business leaders must consider for some employees it will be a difficult adjustment period as many employees will not have been in the office for over a year. A sudden change to their place of work may be stressful and tiring due to a return to commuting, significantly more social contact, and the challenges of a new work-life balance. For business leaders, the best way to manage employee wellbeing is through communication and flexibility. Employees should be involved in the decision of when and how a return to the office will work and specific concerns and anxieties should be addressed.
Leverage technology for collaboration and communication
Technology has played a pivotal role in the move to remote working and will continue to if hybrid working is implemented. The difference will be that technology will have to support a seamless experience regardless of where employees are working.
From a hardware perspective this may be using a laptop with a dock in the office so employees can easily transport their device between work and home and not have to unplug cables each time. From a software perspective it is important to utilise communication and collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams to their full ability. This is especially important if there are employees working in the same team but in the office on different days to ensure they do not feel disconnected from the rest of the team. It is also important to provide training and support with hybrid working technology as all employees will rely heavily on these features to enable productivity in the workplace.
Don’t forget security
In March 2020, when the first lockdown was announced, the move to remote work was abrupt and this led to poor security procedures for many companies. Cybercriminals took advantage of this, with cyber crime increasing by 72% in the first month of lockdown.
After a year of working from home most organisations have implemented security policies and procedures to ensure that employees are working securely on their own networks. As there is more time to plan a hybrid workplace, security needs to be considered from the start. This may include deploying multi-factor authentication, Azure Virtual Desktops (previously Windows Virtual Desktop) and centralising data so employees stay secure and productive, regardless of where they are working.
It won’t be perfect straight away
Business leaders need to be thoughtful with their implementation of a hybrid work model and consider the research as well as employees’ opinions to form a comprehensive framework to set everyone up for success. That said, just as remote work was a new experience for many over a year ago, hybrid work will be the same, and there will be an adjustment period and issues that require the model to be adjusted to suit each company and individual. Although this adjustment period may be not ideal, business leaders should regularly review and optimise their hybrid work environment to ensure it works effectively for all employees.
The move from remote working to hybrid working, if managed correctly, has a plethora of benefits and can be the best of both worlds for employees and business leaders alike. If you want to find out more on how to optimise your hybrid workplace model or manage your IT and technology strategy to suit hybrid working – get in touch today!