The hybrid work model is here to stay. While already on the rise before Covid-19 struck, the pandemic catalyzed the adoption of alternatives to the central-office model.
In fact, a survey conducted by the Chartered Institute of Management revealed that more than 80% of companies have adopted a hybrid work model since the pandemic. Many of these companies have, in turn, experienced an uptick in productivity and improved business results.
At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, businesses were forced to plunge full force into entirely remote work. However, as many discovered, working entirely remote poses its own share of challenges. A hybrid model combines the best of both worlds, for both employers and employees—and employers have noticed! As we exit the pandemic era, managers are encouraging employees to return to the workplace at least part of the time, embracing a hybrid work model as the best way to balance flexibility and productivity.
While clearly the Goldilocks solution, the hybrid work model does come with its own learning curve. Managers and employees must navigate new modes of communication and how to maintain an inclusive work culture.
But with some simple strategies and the right tech solutions, a hybrid work model will make your team more successful than ever before. What do you need to keep in mind as you start on your new, hybrid future? What strategic and tech solutions can you implement to smooth the journey?
Hybrid Work is Here to Stay—Is There Anything You Should Be Concerned About?
Businesses are adopting the hybrid model with gusto; however, that doesn’t mean they don’t have their concerns. Many worry about how to sustain a strong company culture in the long run with a dispersed workforce. Employees who have been with their companies for years are already an established part of the team. But how do you integrate new hires into the company? And how do you sustain the interaction of the office without one?
As many discovered during the fully-remote months of the early pandemic, the centralized office does serve a purpose. It’s crucial for the development of “soft work”: the networking and maintaining of interpersonal relationships that makes a team a team, and not just a series of cogs. It’s this soft work that spurs collaboration and creativity in the workplace.
To keep up this quality networking between team members, you need to provide them with tools to stay in touch. This includes messaging and video call software, dedicated work emails, and collaborative working tools.
You also need to intentionally plan time to build these relationships. In the absence of daily office interactions, your teams should meet regularly in huddles, morning kick-offs, and one-on-ones. Make sure face-to-face meetings, whether online or in-person, also form part of these interactions. Don’t underestimate the value of a “camera-on culture.”
To help new employees integrate into your team and company culture, consider setting up a mentoring program. This will build trust, and give them an opportunity to ask questions as they settle into their new role.
Keep Your Workforce Engaged, Even When Dispersed
Keeping employees engaged is harder now than ever before. With diverse settings and work experiences, managers need to strategically boost communication with their teams. As mentioned earlier, this requires deliberate action, passing hallway chats aren’t really an option anymore.
Since managers are the driving force behind their team’s culture, connection, and employee experience, investing in additional support to enhance their communication with their team is vital.
“Active listening” skills and continuous dialogue are key to gaining an understanding of what helps employees do their best work. Managers need to be proactive about driving employee engagement and view it as a critical part of their role. Gathering one-on-one feedback, holding open discussions, and encouraging future-focused conversations will all contribute to increased engagement and collaboration.
While you’re enhancing management’s communication skills, don’t forget about the staff! Give employees opportunities to develop new skills and knowledge to help them flourish, and be sure to take individual feedback into account.
The Work Model Has Changed—So Should the Office
A hybrid work model is more than just saying “you can work from home X days a week.” In the same way that ideas of work communication, flow, and culture have to change, so does the idea of the office space itself. It’s time to assess what the office is actually for in an era when many do the bulk of their work from home.
As such, the traditional sprawling, cubicle-filled office building is a relic of the past. Instead, you need to purpose the office to foster what only an in-person office can deliver: collaboration and interpersonal interaction. At the same time, you need to build the digital infrastructure—the “smart office”—to connect your team remotely.
A “smart office” leverages digital solutions to provide workspaces that not only connect the scattered workforce but also simplify hybrid work management. These tools maximize space utilization to enhance productivity, boost company culture, reduce costs, place employee health at the forefront, and increase security.
A smart office app like Smarten Spaces is here to help. Tools like Smarten Spaces help you make accurate data-based decisions to improve real estate management, occupancy, and workflows in the hybrid office. With features like contactless access, office occupancy tracking, space management tools, hybrid workforce scheduling, and more, hybrid-first tools like Smarten Spaces will ensure the success of your new work model.
Co-Location Requires Renewed Communication
Remote and hybrid work models have exposed gaps and inefficiencies in the communication tools we once relied on. Asynchronous work, often facilitated through quick, toneless emailing, leaves an opening for misinterpretation, exclusion, and scattered data sharing. Thankfully, tools have been updated to meet the new demands of the moment.
With teams working different schedules in different locations, keeping a community feed is important to ensure everyone stays informed. A single digital platform where everyone receives the same updates cultivates a shared experience. When everyone can see what’s going on all the time, you can minimize misunderstanding and bring together on-site and remote workers, so that no one feels excluded in information distribution.
You also want to ensure that your tech supports video, graphics, and images, both to view live and share after the fact. Livestreamed demos may not be best for employees in opposite time zones; in this case, video sharing is a great solution. On-demand microlearning is also a must for any company serious about effective training and continuing education. Rather than hours viewing slideshows in the office, employees can learn at a time, place, and pace that suits them best.
Keep Up with Hybrid Workplace Technologies with Smarten Spaces
The new face of work is here—and it’s hybrid. Companies that fail to make the jump—and make it efficiently, with appropriate communication tools—will fail to attract talent and struggle to match up to competitors.
Smarten Spaces provides the ultimate hybrid workplace management suite to optimize your office for the modern era. This multifaceted tool helps your team adapt seamlessly to their new hybrid work model while maintaining consistent output and engagement.
What are you waiting for? Analyze and hone your space use, minimize expenses, improve health and safety, and enhance employee collaboration with Smarten Spaces today. Book a demo to discover just how smart space management can push your business into the future.