The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we work and welcomed a new era of hybrid working. With the hope that office spaces and workplaces will be opening again in the near future, some employees will want to come back into the office while others might now be comfortable with the ‘work from home’ ethic and lifestyle. So is your business ready and able to sustain this mix of on-site, off-site and remote working?
For starters, what is the hybrid working model?
The hybrid working model involves a workforce that is split between working remotely and working in an office, and has a combination of remote, semi-remote and office-based employees.
While it might sound a lot like flexible working, there is a key difference. The hybrid working model gives employees the autonomy to decide how, when, and where they work best. This is designed to enable employees to improve their work-life balance and increase flexibility, whilst also providing them with structure and sociability.
Existing hybrid companies, which have already seen a significant increase since the outbreak of the pandemic, typically designate certain days where the physical presence of their employees is required in the office. This could be for meetings, team building and collaboration, or team project kick-offs. They then utilise remote days for work that requires more individual focus.
The beauty of a hybrid working model is its ability to be tailored to an organisation and its individual needs. Hybrid working aims to take the best elements of remote working and mix these in with the undeniable advantages of working together in person. If your business is going to embrace this new approach successfully and with rewarding outcomes, you need to provide the right environment and tools for this new approach.
When businesses were forced to shut their physical doors, we became reliant on technology in order to work from home. We’ve seen an increased use of video technologies and cloud-based business solutions. But the technology is only half of the story. If we want to reap the rewards of the remote working opportunity, we now must focus on our culture and our processes. Here are some tips on how to embrace this new way of working:
Set the foundations
To get your business ready for hybrid working, it’s crucial to set the right foundations and meet the basic requirements of being able to deliver both remote and in-person working. This means planning ahead and keeping an open mind to the benefits of this new approach.
To prepare for hybrid working, your business must:
- Have the necessary means for cloud computing
If your employees are going to work from home or out and about, you need all your key systems to be in the cloud. Old applications on an office-based server weren’t made for hybrid working. Cloud-based accounting, project management, CRM and workflow tools give you the flexibility to work from any location, with all your customer information and business data being stored securely in the cloud.
- Have clear systems and processes
When people are working in different locations and at different times, it’s important to have consistency and understanding about how the work is done. To achieve this, you need well-defined operational systems so whole team knows when, how and where to carry out their day-to-day work, record notes or raise expenses and bills, etc.
- Trust your employees to self-manage
When employees are no longer based in the office, it becomes more difficult to have management oversight. With some people working from home and some out at other locations, you need to trust in your employees and their ability to self-manage and continue to work to a high standard. Increasing trust and reducing micro-management is key to making a hybrid approach work for everyone.
- Have performance reporting in place
Trusting people to work hard is a given, but you still need to know if the business is remaining productive. Having some form of performance reporting in place is essential in order to review areas like productivity, staff attendance, sales targets, revenues generated, etc.
- Motivate people from afar
When you can’t all be in the office for the traditional team meeting it can be hard to build team spirit and keep your employees motivated. Try having regular video meetings where teams come together to talk through the work for the week and raise any concerns. And, if all goes to plan, in-person social events are in our near future, so try to arrange something as a way for your employees to get together and enjoy being part of your business family.
The companies that fully grasp the hybrid working opportunity will be more flexible, more scalable, and more ready to react to new challenges and changing environments. However, the key to the successful implementation of the hybrid working model is communication and collaboration with employees. While some might think that this new style of working is great, it might not suit everyone. By asking employees for their input, organisations have a greater chance of making this new style of working a success.