It seems like everyone is talking about ‘hybrid working’ and how the majority of us will never return to the office five days a week, but what does this mean exactly?
To put it simply it means a flexible working agreement where an employee works from a variety of different locations – including an agreed space, e.g. the office. It does seem inevitable after most of us have spent the past 18 months working from home, and the pandemic has forced organisations to become more dynamic which is a positive cultural shift.
With this in mind, we have put together our five top tips for business leaders who want to implement an effective hybrid working model:
Before making any announcements to the wider organisation take some time to put together a detailed plan. Consider which job roles are a top priority to get back into the office, if there are any jobs that cannot be conducted remotely on a permanent basis; if there are any employees who will need or want to continue working remotely as they are vulnerable or care for a vulnerable person.
To physically manage the safe return of employees, consider what the maximum space capacities are so that some social distancing can be maintained, if you are going to keep one-way systems and how often communal areas will need to be cleaned.
It’s important to listen to your staff, ask their opinions and how they envision a hybrid working model working long term.
2. Establish a routine
Depending on the size, configuration and the type of work you do, you could consider a weekly routine which sees different people physically in the office on certain days.
You might also want to consider some core working hours, to ensure collaboration takes place regardless of location. Depending on the job role some people might prefer starting their day earlier or later than others and whilst it’s imperative to give some flexibility by having expected hours for people to be online you are laying the foundations for the on-going hybrid working routine.
3. Define the communication methods
The ultimate goal for hybrid working is to achieve one culture regardless of where the team are located. One way to help support a positive united culture is to determine the communication channels people should use. There are so many apps and bits of software, but we would always recommend using the Microsoft set of tools. Allowing your teams to mix and match different platforms extends your system surface area for cyber-attack and makes it harder to secure.
When it comes to Microsoft you are spoilt for choice as they have really upped their game in the collaboration arena. The apps we find the most useful are Teams, Teams Rooms and Whiteboard.
- Microsoft Teams allows you to seamlessly chat with colleagues, share files and create workgroups.
- Microsoft Team Rooms is an integrated meeting room solution including cameras, microphones, screen, control unit and processing unit which runs the software to integrate everything together. You invite ‘Teams Rooms’ to your meeting and then all you need to go is go to the designated room and join the call from the device in that room.
- Microsoft Whiteboard allows you to interact, brainstorm and collaborate on a digital whiteboard within Microsoft Teams.
If you are introducing these apps for the first time it might be worth setting up some training sessions so that everyone knows how best to use them.
4. Get the right equipment
When the UK first got asked to work from home back in March 2020, some people might have found themselves perched on their sofa with laptops on coffee tables.
Fast forward 18 months and that could still be true for some, but most organisations should have taken the time to complete a DSE assessment of individual home working areas. Where an employee is lacking a sufficient desk, chair, monitor or keyboard it is the businesses responsibility to provide equipment.
For a permanent hybrid working routine, laptops provide more flexibility than desktops, and equipping the office with docking stations means anyone can plug in when they are in the building.
Meeting rooms can be equipped with large or multiple screens to bring remote attendees ‘into the room’. Intelligent cameras optimise the view, and can follow the active speaker. There is even technology which allows for live captioning or transcription and whiteboard sessions can become interactive for those either remote or physically present which a dedicated content camera.
5. Move everything to the cloud, as soon as possible
Cloud computing is the delivery of computing services, including servers, storage, networking, databases, software and analytics over the internet. You pay for the cloud services you use, similar to a pay-as-you-go basis, which minimises your business costs and allows you to scale the business as it grows and the demands change.
Traditionally businesses would buy, deploy and manage their own servers, but this move towards cloud computing has brought multiple benefits to organisations:
- Reduced costs – gone are the days of purchasing software, hardware or having to run data centres from the office. With cloud computing you often don’t need dedicated in-house IT resource to manage the infrastructure.
- Performance – having infinite capabilities and capacity available at your fingertips allows businesses to leverage computing power as and when its required. Seasonal businesses for example can achieve high performance at peak times without compromise, leveraging cost savings at quieter times by scaling back the cloud services to suit demand.
- Scale – you only pay for the bandwidth you need, so its easy to scale up and increase the computing power, storage and bandwidth very quickly.
- Security – mainstream cloud providers prioritise their customers security environments and they are investing heavily in cutting edge solutions, resources and talent to maintain the integrity of their solutions – usually to a far higher standard than most small or medium businesses could aspire to.
- Reliability – moving your technology requirements to the cloud removes your reliance on traditional IT equipment. Hardware failures within a cloud data centre aren’t felt by customers and the providers build in resilience which provides a service guarantee over 99%.
- Productivity – collaboration is easy, regardless of location and your workforce don’t need to be local to your own IT function or data centre as they would have had to be traditionally.
If you would like support upgrading your IT equipment or infrastructure to support a hybrid working model, please get in touch with us today and we will be happy to talk through your options.