If there is one thing that everyone agrees on, it’s that the new normal will be the golden era of “hybrid working"
Hybrid working is a combination of remote and office-based work that can meet varied needs from both employees and employers.
However, that’s where the agreement ends. Companies are asking: what do we need to do to make hybrid working work? What’s more important - equipment or policy? And will our company culture allow it?
What we’ve found is that hybrid working is different from either remote working or “normal” office life, in terms of technology, collaboration, human capability and workspace. But with some careful planning, smart use of technology and the adoption of effective collaboration solutions, the hybrid working model may truly represent a new and improved future of work. Here are five things to consider.
1. Employees need tools that are purpose-built for hybrid working
When the crisis first hit, organisations scrambled to provide remote working technologies using whatever tools were available at the time, often with jury-rigged solutions that originally assumed to be temporary. Effective long-term hybrid working will require purpose-built, ultra-portable devices that allow employees to work anywhere. Features such as smart stand-by and long battery power will become much more important, because these features allow easy transitions between home, office, and everywhere in between. In particular, hybrid working means more multitasking. A PC alone has limited multitasking capability, so it will be important to free up its resources for uninterrupted productive work.
2. Office environments play a key role in creating connections with the dispersed workforce
Having an office space that is optimised for a hybrid working model is important to facilitate a dispersed workforce. When colleagues in an office huddle room can quickly and securely dial in a remote teammate, silo thinking is reduced.
3. Up-front planning is worth the extra effort
The dynamic pandemic situation, coupled with having a fleet of devices connected within and outside of your network using various applications and devices, have made IT environments a lot more complex. It can save headaches later on to engage an external IT service provider at an early stage. The right partner can help deploy devices, configure workspaces, and design a centralised IT management system. This frees up internal resources to focus on more strategic matters.
4. Ad hoc, personal communication is just as important as official communication
When teams don’t meet in person, many organisations have turned to official “town hall” meetings or mass emails to keep colleagues informed.
However, close integration of teams happens just as much through informal, ad hoc discussions as through official channels. Is your office set up to ensure these can happen on the fly? Both working practices and technology need to be carefully arranged to meet this need.
5. Hybrid working is most effective when corporate policy is updated to match the reality
Hybrid teams are different from fully remote teams and require different policies. It is important to establish IT and HR policies that make it clear how and where employees are allowed to work and which digital tools and equipment will be provided, as well as working hours, ground rules, and expectations. Employees will more easily thrive in a hybrid working environment when they have access to training resources on how to use new tools, and when cybersecurity hygiene is properly implemented.
Hybrid working is not a transition back to pre-COVID norms. It’s a new opportunity that can help organisations leverage the best of both worlds. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, and some restructuring may be necessary, finding the right balance can help maximize productivity, employee satisfaction, and corporate success.
Pia Rueda is Head of HR, Australia & New Zealand, Lenovo