Organizations over the past couple of years, expedited in 2020 by COVID-19, have seen huge transformations in how they operate. Flexible work schedules, remote team members and a focus on the employee experience are just some of the focuses for modern businesses.
There’s now a clear vision for the future of work. Companies are now adopting a hybrid work model that combines remote work with office time.
Hybrid work models that are managed effectively allow organizations to define a future of work that is more flexible, digital and rewarding for their employees. This results in a huge number of business benefits from better access to top talent, happier employees and improved innovation.
Here are some statistics that demonstrate the rising interested in hybrid work models:
The hybrid workplace is a business model that combines a mixture of both remote work and office work.
Rather than structuring the workday around a desk in a physical office space, it creates a flexible work schedule in which employees have the freedom to split their time between working at home and coming into a physical office.
It’s similar to a remote workforce in that employees work from home, but the difference if it’s not entirely remote. Companies instead retain their physical office spaces, but use them in a different manner to the traditional model of working.
The way employees work in a physical office has changed for companies which have adopted a hybrid work model. Physical office spaces are now reserved for in-person meetings and collaboration between team members, with other days of the week allocated specifically for working from home.
Time in the office is now used for collaborative initiatives. That could include anything from presentations, team building exercises, introducing new projects or any other task where you need to bring your employees together for face-to-face communication.
Meanwhile, remote working days allow individuals team members to focus on the work they need to perform when they aren’t actively working with their peers on projects.
The result? Employees have access to all of the aspects that make remote work desired, but none of the challenges that lead to reduced communication or loneliness. They are able to work from home, yet still come into the office each weak to collaborate and socially interact with their peers.
There’s no set, or ideal, number of days that employees must be in an office to build a hybrid work model. It could be anything from just one day a week working in a physical office to three or four days, or perhaps even a monthly schedule where the entire team is onsite for certain days to collaborate. If your business has employees who have the flexibility to split their time between work-from-home and the office, then you are managing a hybrid workforce.
Managing a hybrid workforce means your business is able to combine the advantages of remote work with the collaboration opportunities of face-to-face work in a physical office environment.
This brings some key benefits to organizations that have a hybrid workforce, including:
Traditionally, there has long been a fear that allowing employees to work from home would make them less productive. That has proven to be false. In fact, remote workers are often revealed to be more productive than their in-person counterparts.
However, there’s no doubt that employees working from home do run into some challenges around feeling siloed, lonely or out of sync with their colleagues.
That’s why hybrid work is the best of both worlds. It combines the improved productivity of remote workers with the superior in-person collaboration and communication of physical office spaces.
An improved work-life balance is one of the most desired offerings you can present to your employees and job prospects. A hybrid work model gives employees more freedom about when they can work and where they can work from. This increased autonomy to employees allows them to fit work around the rest of their lives.
Offering flexibility to your employees improves their satisfaction in their job. That results in improved employee happiness, reduced staff turnover and a workforce which is highly-driven to help your business achieve its goals.
We’ve discussed how a hybrid work model leads to increased productivity and higher employee satisfaction levels, but did you know that both of these benefits lead to a third benefit? Reduced costs for your business.
With increased employee satisfaction your company will save money on staff turnover and the resulting expenses it takes to find a new suitable candidate to fill a skilled role, while the increased productivity of your existing employees will lead to better-quality work completed for your clients and an increase in profits for your company.
With the benefits discussed above in mind, organizations must ensure they have the right technologies and tools in place to ensure their employees are just as productive working from home as in the office.
No matter where team members are working from, it’s essential that they are able to collaborate with their peers, communicate with clients, use the software they need to complete tasks and access files that they (or their team) has previously saved.
Any successful hybrid work model needs to be strategically thought out, with technology at the very heart of the solution.
Here are some of the key technologies that your business must consider when transitioning to a hybrid work model:
While your employees have the option to come into the office to collaborate, they are still going to need to communicate and work on projects with their colleagues while outside of the office. That’s why it’s crucial for your business to have the communications tools necessary to collaboratively work together, no matter where or when employees are working.
Since your employees can’t walk over to each other’s desks or book a meeting room while at home, use tools such as instant messaging and video conferencing. Software such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams can help you boost collaboration and communication within a hybrid workforce.
Don’t forget about video conferencing in your office either. Encourage communication between employees who come into the office by creating meeting rooms, Microsoft Team rooms, Zoom rooms, huddle rooms and other collaborative spaces.
To ensure your projects continue to progress, it’s crucial that your employees have complete visibility into their tasks no matter where they are working from. Team members should be able to easily see priorities, deliverables and the work they need to complete to meet project goals.
To make this easy, consider implementing project management tools such as Microsoft Teams Planner, Basecamp, Teamwork, Monday or Trello into your processes. This will promote seamless task continuation whether your employees are working from home or working out of the office.
With your workforce disperse across multiple locations, it’s important that your employees can use one platform where they have the ability to access everything they need to complete their job. That’s where the implementation of unified communications (UC) can help.
UC is the consolidation of different cloud-based communication tools - such as video conferencing, instant messaging, VoIP, phone systems and file sharing - into one central platform. This helps support a hybrid workforce by promoting collaboration, giving employees access to everything they need wherever they are and a superior user experience.
Any employee that leaves your physical office space to work should not be using their personal computer. This can pose a significant security issue for your organization and also means they likely won’t have access to all the tools they need to complete their job efficiently. Instead, invest in hardware for each employee so that your IT team can have complete control over the technologies they use and the cybersecurity measures they have in place.
Speaking of cybersecurity, the next section on this page will look at some more in-depth ways your business can protect itself from cybersecurity concerns when adopting a hybrid work model.
Organizations that shift to the hybrid model way of working must implement new strategies that secure their digital assets, protect their remote employees and shield their business from cyberthreats.
The hybrid workforce means organizations are increasingly adopting cloud services, transferring files across different networks, have less control over employee security measures and a range of other challenges. This is leaving them open to cybersecurity issues such as unsecured WiFi, phishing scams, spyware, viruses, data loss and hackers.
According to Deloitte, working from home is becoming a gateway to new forms of data theft. That’s because organizations typically have poor technological infrastructure and inadequate cyber and data security.
In fact, more than one-third (36 percent) of executives on the CNBC Technology Executive Council say that cyberthreats have increased as a majority of their employees work from home, according to a CNBC flash survey. One respondent said their organization has seen phishing and other cyber scams rise 40 percent.
It’s for this reason that companies must develop long-term plans on how to provide cybersecurity to a workforce that splits its time between the physical office and work from home. This should involve a strategic approach that protects the company’s entire IT infrastructure.
When supporting a hybrid workforce, your organization should consider cybersecurity best practices such as:
Technological advances have freed us from the boundaries of walls and borders, with most workplaces utilizing remote workers as well as offering work-from-home options. This new trend comes with its own set of challenges.
Video Collaboration is the answer. It allows you to be in the room no matter where in the world you might physically be, not to mention the ripple effects of increasing efficiency and productivity.