As the world battles the COVID-19 pandemic and possibly more other forms of crisis, the work-from-home setup has become very much appealing to both employees and businesses.
Many people have become attached to the flexibility and work-life balance it offers. And the good news is that companies are embracing it too. After all, research shows that remote teams tend to be more productive and efficient.
But there’s another setup that’s coming our way and according to experts, it might be the future of work. It’s called a hybrid workforce.
What Is the Hybrid Working Model?
A survey revealed that 80% of companies plan to allow their employees to work remotely at least for some time after the pandemic. 47% will allow their employees to work from home full-time.
However, despite the obvious benefits of a remote workforce, it still comes with many challenges. Distractions at home, loneliness, unplugging from work, collaborating or communication, and staying motivated are just some of the biggest struggles of remote workers.
A hybrid work model allows employees to work from different locations – from their home, in the office, and almost anywhere. It offers the “best of both worlds”, so they say. This means employees can go to the office when they need to collaborate, stay home for deep work, travel, and still get things done.
The biggest advantage of this working model is increased flexibility. Employees can choose how and where they want to work based on their personal circumstances.
While it seems a “dream come true” for most workers, managing a hybrid work model can be challenging for companies.
Thankfully, sustaining a hybrid workforce is easier with technology.
Here’s how leaders can tackle the challenges of hybrid working through the power of technology:
Communication is arguably the most important aspect of a hybrid workforce. Careful planning is needed to create a solid communications process.
Define ways of working
For a hybrid workforce to run smoothly, leaders should ensure that their people understand the norms of the workplace or how the work gets done. Leaders should be clear about what they expect from their teams, and vice versa.
Leverage communications platforms
There is a myriad of communications platforms that make communicating so much easier for remote and hybrid teams. These can range from instant messaging and social media platforms to business communications platforms like Slack.
Invest in tools employees need to work effectively
There are many amazing technology companies that are changing the way organizations communicate. These days, there’s really no excuse for not communicating with a colleague regarding projects and other concerns.
It’s important for leaders to implement solutions that enable workers to find each other. Hybrid workplaces are very fluid. It’s hard to determine who might be at the office on any given day. Solutions that make it easier for widely distributed team members to connect and collaborate are imperative.
Consider a collaboration technology with comprehensive capabilities, such as wayfinding, occupancy monitoring, personal and room calendar integration, and more. Companies should look for solutions that best suit their needs.
Meeting and Video Conferencing
In a hybrid workforce, leaders need to look after their remote staff and those who are working in the office. Facilitating meetings can be incredibly challenging without a comprehensive video conferencing tool. They need a platform that can accommodate a large number of participants.
There are numerous video conferring platforms used by remote teams these days, anything from Skype to Zoom, Teams, Webex, and more. For hybrid teams, Bring Your Own Meeting (BYOM) solutions are a great addition to these.
Unlike room-based systems with dedicated in-room devices to facilitate meetings, BYOM allows hybrid workers to wirelessly integrate their devices, including their conferencing applications, content, and more. This creates a personalized user-centric experience.
BYOM systems are cost-effective and easy to deploy as they eliminate the need for hardware and specialized support.
Collaboration and Document Sharing
As mentioned, a hybrid workforce needs the right tools to function effectively.
Aside from communications and video conferencing technology, they also require a reliable platform for sharing and accessing data at work.
One of the challenges of remote and hybrid workforces is ensuring employees could work securely, in compliance with their organization’s policies.
Since team members are working from different locations, accessing company files from their devices poses security risks.
This is where a collaborative workspace platform makes perfect sense.
Tech solutions like Zoom, Teams, Slack, and others give virtual and hybrid teams the ability to share and manage files. They also offer chat-based interfaces for easy collaboration, along with task-oriented tools that aren’t linked to the physical infrastructure of the company in the same way that a phone system might be.
All these features are greatly beneficial for companies whose teams are widely distributed.
Modern collaboration tools are cloud-based. Meaning, digital data are processed, shared, stored, and managed via the internet, rather than local servers or personal computers. Cloud technology eliminates the need for expensive IT infrastructure, which means significantly lower costs for companies that use them.
Even when staff is working together in one physical space, it can be hard to organize tasks without a standard approach to managing projects. Also, in hybrid workforces, team members are not always at their office desks. Thus, there has to be a way to keep everyone in the loop.
Project management tools enable hybrid workers to get things done no matter where they are. These systems incorporate applications and tools for planning, organizing, and managing complex projects.
With a project management platform, leaders can easily break down projects into smaller tasks, assign specific people to work on them, create a timeline, add notes, and keep track of the progress.
These platforms can be used for many aspects of a project, from creating estimates for activities to allocating resources, controlling project changes, tracking costs and budgets, and sharing project information or updates.
As mentioned earlier, leaders need to establish norms for a hybrid workforce to become successful. During onboarding, employees should have a clear understanding of the business processes, internal communications, and other day-to-day activities.
They should also be aware of reporting policies and scheduling. Depending on the hybrid working model adopted by an organization, employees might be required on certain days to be at the office and be allowed to work on the go most of the time.
Since most hybrid workforce involves members from different locations or even different time zones, monitoring employee productivity can be extremely challenging.
To eliminate these problems, there are time and attendance tracking systems. These platforms are equipped with several features, such as time-tracking, time (screen) capture, timesheet, notifications, and other features that eliminate the need for supervisors to micromanage their teams while giving employees full control of their time.
What’s more, many time tracking solutions come with a separate payroll or allow businesses to integrate their payroll systems into the software. With payroll integration, HR managers can automate billable hours and seamlessly generate payslips or invoices.
The best time tracking systems are easy to use and accessible in various ways. Some systems integrate cloud technology which means that even without the app, employees and managers can access their dashboards via their browsers.
Conclusion: Ensuring Success of the Hybrid Workforce
As the corporate sector shifts into a more flexible style of working, more and more companies are embracing the idea of hybrid working.
This setup allows employees to enjoy the perks of working from home and the benefits of going to the office for in-person collaboration.
However, the hybrid workforce model is not without challenges. Managing a widely distributed team can be difficult. Thankfully, the technology is quick to adapt to the changing needs of businesses and organizations.
Many tech solutions have surfaced over the years. Most of these are designed to help companies manage remote workers. With great technology products out there, businesses will have no excuse to achieve seamless operations for managing their teams, wherever part of the world they may be.