Since many of us have transitioned into a remote way of working over the past 12 months, organizations across the world have learned a lot about how employees communicate with each other. And that knowledge is a good thing, even as employees begin to (slowly) head back into the office as it becomes safer to do so. Yet there’s no denying it, the office isn’t going to be the same office as it was at the start of 2020.
The future of work is now the hybrid workplace. A model of work in which businesses create a flexible work environment, and employees have the freedom to split their time between working in the physical office space or working from home.
To ensure a hybrid work model runs seamlessly without disrupting business growth, and that employees collaborate together effectively, there are a few principles that your organization will need to follow:
- Casual team ‘water-cooler’ conversations (online)
- Documentation of processes and procedures
- Digital-focused workspace
- Enhanced cybersecurity
1 - Encourage team water-cooler conversations (online)
One of the most commonly cited issues with remote work is the lost connection between team members. Colleagues become more than just people you work with, they become friends. Working from home removes that personal communication and can often leave employees feeling socially isolated.
Despite the fact that 84 percent of distributed workers report improvements to their work-life balance, according to research by the Institute of Leadership and Management, a lack of team identity can cause isolation and loneliness.
That’s why it’s important to not shut down team conversations. Just like office employees take 5-10 minutes to chat about things outside of work while making a coffee, it’s not counterintuitive to the growth of your organization to let your remote employees have personal chats via video conference software or instant messaging now and again - in fact, it’s actually beneficial!
2 - Documentation of process and procedures
Did you know that 88 percent of distributed workers struggle with inconsistent working practices and miscommunication, according to the same research by the Institute of Leadership and Management. Meanwhile, 83 percent of distributed workers say they feel overwhelmed by email.
How we communicate in the hybrid workplace is different from the physical office. There could be few or no in-person meetings for project updates, same with water cooler gatherings where team members give an update on how they’re coming along with their work. Communication through video conferencing is typically more taxing, and that leaves room for words that are lost in translation.
That’s why a key principle of a successful hybrid work model will be writing everything down. Project management software is a crucial component of ensuring that your entire team can stay updated, collaborate and seamlessly progress the projects they are working on - all with a written timeline of exactly what has been done, and what needs to be done.
3 - Digital-focused workspace
When building your hybrid workplace, it’s crucial that you rethink how work is done. In the past we would design office spaces in a bid to aid communication and collaboration - yet today, with employees located in different spaces, we don’t have that luxury.
Communication and collaboration technologies are now your company’s best friend, when it comes to encouraging collaboration among staff members and getting the best out of your team.
Technologies you will need to consider investing in include:
- Video conferencing software, such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom.
- Instant messaging software, such as Slack or Microsoft Teams.
- Project management software
- Unified communications
- Physical hardware for both office and work-from-home employees
4 - Enhanced cybersecurity
Working remotely has raised more concerns than ever before about properly protecting your company’s network from cybersecurity threats. It’s crucial that businesses embracing this way of working implement cybersecurity strategies and technology solutions to protect their network, data and employees.
Cybersecurity best practices for a hybrid work environment include:
- Good password management
- Two-factor authentication
- Anti-virus software and firewalls.
- Frequent data backups
- Anti-malware software
- Employee training on best practices
- The use of virtual private networks (VPNs)
Have any further questions about implementing a successful hybrid work model that drives your organization into the future? Genesis Integration would love to help. We advise, integrate and implement a range of technologies into our clients processes that improve the way they work, how their employees collaborate and how they analyze success.