For many businesses, the hybrid workplace model is the new way of work, while for many others, it represents the future. Already adopted by multiple industry-leading firms, the hybrid work model is able to merge company objectives with the rising demand for more flexible work arrangements. The challenge, however, lies in how to successfully transition from a traditional workplace to a hybrid workplace model with minimal disruption.
Keep reading for five crucial steps towards implementing the hybrid workplace model in your company, or visit the ViewSonic workspace solutions page for innovative display solutions that support office, remote, and hybrid work.
As businesses increasingly understand the benefits of hybrid work and its potential to boost employee morale, more companies are looking at how exactly to transition to the hybrid model, how to ensure operations remain unaffected, and how to ensure the system offers an equal and fair experience for all employees.
While there are many variations of the hybrid model that can be applied differently within separate organizations, this article will look at the fundamental steps necessary for creating a solid foundation capable of supporting any variation of the hybrid work model.
What is the Hybrid Workplace Model?
Digital transformation in the way we communicate and collaborate at work has significantly reduced the importance of being physically present in the office. With cloud-based systems and a growing familiarity with telecommuting, more companies are choosing to empower their employees with the autonomy to switch between working in the office and working remotely within certain predefined limitations, effectively known as the hybrid workplace model.
Many global companies, are in fact, mandating minimal work-from-office days, in which employees are expected to work off-site for a number of scheduled or individually preferred days.
Essentially, the hybrid workplace model looks to capitalize on the best of the two systems, providing the flexibility that employees demand while still retaining the advantages, and necessity in many cases, of having a centralized office. Hybrid work can also blend very effectively with other flexible work arrangements, such as flextime and compressed workweeks.
How to Implement the Hybrid Model
The difficulty of implementing the hybrid workplace model will depend largely on the existing infrastructure of the company and in most cases will require a period of adjustment. But the following five steps will help provide the necessary foundation on which to build a successful hybrid model for your company.
1. Establish a Centralized, Cloud-Based System
One of the most important aspects of implementing a hybrid workplace model is ensuring all employees have easy and equal access to the tools they need to communicate, collaborate, and carry out work effectively, regardless of their location. For this reason, it is almost always essential that a cloud-based model is adopted for everything from communication to file sharing to task management.
Three key aspects to pay attention to are access barriers for remote workers, compatibility issues, and security concerns.
For companies with adequate budget, Microsoft Office 365 provides a comprehensive, secure, and fully integrated solution, spanning the complete range of office tools from word processing, spreadsheet handling, and task management, right through to video conferencing through Microsoft Teams. While cheaper alternatives are available, there are often limitations in integration and compatibility that can be time-consuming and potentially disruptive.
The process of migrating operations into a single cloud-based ecosystem will take time, and there will be an adjustment period as employees become familiar with new tools and processes. However, this is the first and possibly most important step towards implementing a hybrid workplace model in which employees can move seamlessly between the office and remote work.
2. Adopt a Remote-first Approach to Work
Equally as important as a centralized, cloud-based system is the adoption of a remote-first approach, where remote working is seen as the default in everything from communications to meetings to project management in order to provide equal access to information for both on-site and off-site workers.
As much as this will require changes within the system of the company, it may also require changing the mindset of employees. The company culture within each country is different and different emphasis is placed on the office life and communication. Many people are used to a traditional office environment, however, where small questions can be asked in person, unofficial meetings are often held in the hallways, and decisions are sometimes made without being documented. With a remote-first approach, there’s a record for everything. Small questions are asked within an established communication channel, meetings are made accessible to remote workers, and all updates and decisions are documented.
When such an approach is implemented, you eliminate many disadvantages linked to working remotely and avoid the separation between on-site and off-site workers. Moreover, a remote-first approach can also be advantageous in situations where employees may be unable to attend the workplace, as was the case for many during the COVID-19 pandemic.
3. Optimize Remote Collaboration
While implementing a centralized, cloud-based system and a remote-first approach will lay the foundations of the hybrid workplace model, the ultimate success will rest on the ability and effectiveness of team collaboration, especially between those who are on-site and those who are off-site.
This step relies heavily on all employees having the right hardware to assist online collaboration, effective software, and some level of training to ensure collaboration tools are being used to their full potential. Effective communication channels will also play a major role, as will team structure, such as the allocation of team leaders and project leaders.
Remember to choose high-quality video conferencing monitors that have a built-in FHD webcam and microphone with adjustable vertical angels for easy access. With such equipment, joining any virtual meeting will become a piece of cake, and you won’t lose any energy worrying if you’re ready for the next video call.
For an in-depth look at effective remote collaboration and how to manage it, read our previous articles Collaborating Remotely – Why Remote Collaboration is Important, How to Optimize Collaboration in Remote Teams, and Remote Team Management: 15 Best Practices for Leading Effective Teams.
4. Request Employee Feedback (and Respond to It)
In theory, the hybrid workplace model is a win-win situation for employer and employee, with both parties standing to gain from the system. But in reality, the adjustment period will affect different individuals in ways that may not have been possible to foresee. For example, working from home seemed like a perfect scenario for parents but in some cases, it ended up in employees getting burned out.
For this reason, it is of the utmost importance that the implementation of the hybrid workplace model includes a clear process for gathering and responding to employee feedback. Both on-site and remote staff should be consulted about what difficulties they are facing, where they think improvement can be achieved, and what specific day-to-day obstacles they face.
The best practice for this step will differ from organization to organization depending on internal factors such as company culture and the number of staff involved. In some settings, it may be more useful to ask for anonymous feedback, where employees can speak up without fear of consequence, while at other times it may be better to be more transparent.
5. Reconsider the Office and Workplace Design
Finally, when implementing a hybrid model in the workplace, it is worth considering the value of your office space design and how it’ll impact productivity and employee retention. Having less staff in the office and more online meetings will mean that spaces within the office could be redesigned to be used more effectively. On top of that, younger workers’ preferences and workstyles are defining the future workplace, so it is also important to cater to their expectations and keep them motivated.
In our previous article, Collaborative Meeting Spaces: Trends, Types, and Technologies, we looked at how conference rooms are getting smaller, furniture is becoming more comfort-focused, and technology is being implemented to facilitate remote collaboration. But outside of meeting spaces, it may be possible to downsize your current office space entirely.
Alternatively, you may find that the extra room available gives you the scope to expand your business, hire more staff, and/or make use of new equipment. The key is to make sure your office is designed with hybrid work in mind, rather than simply making do with an office that was originally created for a more traditional approach.
While the hybrid workplace model has a lot to offer both employer and employee, it will take time to implement and there will be a few hurdles along the way. Migrating all operations onto a centralized, cloud-based platform will mean rethinking a lot of processes and require a long period of adjustment for staff who have become accustomed to the previous system. The same can be said for staff who now have to learn to collaborate remotely and ensure that all formal communication needs to take place online. Just be sure to follow up with all staff members both individually and as a whole during the transition period to ensure problems are dealt with as they arise.
If you have found this article to be helpful, you may also be interested in reading 10 Challenges of Working from Home for Employers (And How to Solve Them). You can also visit the ViewSonic workplace solutions page for more valuable insights into the modern workplace.