What will the “new normal” look like for workplaces? Will employees everywhere soon return to working in offices and shared spaces full-time? Or will remote work and WFH continue to rule in a post-pandemic world?
In all likelihood, the prevailing norm will be a hybrid combination of the two, where flexibility is the guiding principle. This model had been emerging before the events of 2020, and now seems more inevitable than ever with businesses broadly acclimating to remote work dynamics. Many major companies and corporations have already stated a commitment to this style of operation going forward.
Microsoft is one enterprise leading the hybrid workplace revolution. As their Executive Vice President Kathleen Hogan wrote in a recent company blog, “it is our goal to offer as much flexibility as possible to support individual workstyles, while balancing business needs and ensuring we live our culture. Flexibility can mean different things to each of us, and we recognize there is no one-size-fits-all solution given the variety of roles, work requirements and business needs we have at Microsoft.”
For business leaders, the rise of the hybrid workplace presents new challenges and new opportunities. Here are five key focuses to help you thrive in a new ecosystem.
5 Tips for Building a Strong Hybrid Workplace
Plan accordingly so that you can streamline any changes you are making this year. Avoid certain pitfalls while using the best techniques and technologies to ensure your staff is all on the same page.
- Promote Inclusivity Even While Promoting Flexibility
No one wants to feel left out, whether it’s a kid on the playground or an adult in the workplace. The feeling of being shunned, unrepresented, and unequal to in-office counterparts has been shown to be a primary driver of remote employee disengagement.
There’s no replacing the dynamic of working together in person, but you can create a greater sense of inclusivity by putting everyone on equal footing. When holding team meetings, encourage all in-office employees to log in through their own computer, and perhaps even in their own offices so that there aren’t side conversations and non-verbal cues taking place that remote workers can’t experience. Find ways to eliminate communication gaps that can arise with fragmented teams. Ensure everyone is using the same software and tools, no matter where they are located.
From a managerial or leadership standpoint, your key focus will be going above and beyond to instill a sense of cohesiveness in this setting so that you can eliminate bias and prevent non-present workers from feeling isolated or even alienated.
- Flexibility Can Extend to Work Hours As Well
Many leading companies are not only considering flexibility in where to work… but also when. Businesses like Microsoft are committing to having an open conversation about workday schedules. While this may not be feasible for all roles (nor all businesses), many can consider shifting constraints of time.
Subject to manager approval, workday starts and end times may be able to be adjusted (depending on time zones or other personal needs like school schedules). Or perhaps you are more focused on output. Assign projects a time they are due and leave it up to your staff to find the time to complete the assignments. When possible, adopt an asynchronous style of collaboration in which everyone can contribute on their own schedules.
- Offer Continuing Support to Your Team
Change and transitions are difficult. Employees everywhere have already experienced a great deal of disruption and stress over the past year as a result of the pandemic, stay-at-home orders, widespread political unrest, and more. One of the best things a manager can offer, beyond tools and guidance, is ongoing support.
Keep lines of communication open at all times. Consider holding office hours that are equally accessible (if not more so) to those who are working from a distance and can’t pop in with questions or concerns.
- Emphasize Cybersecurity Among Your Team
As hybrid and distributed workplaces become more entrenched, it’s critical to think about the technological implications of routinely sharing data, documents, and other assets through digital means. When employees are frequently working on their own personal devices, potential cybersecurity risks can easily come about.
Make sure you’re being thoughtful about protecting the critical information of your business and its customers. Facilitate ongoing education about the importance of cybersecurity and how every employee, whether in-office or remote, can contribute to this imperative. Highlight risk points (e.g., unsecured WiFi networks, weak passwords, phishing scams). Use software and tools with strong security measures built in. You can learn more about Sococo’s application security here.
- Blur the Boundaries Between Virtual & IRL Engagement
With staff becoming less confined to the constraints of a physical office, the virtual office becomes all the more important. Think beyond virtual conference meetings and consider the traditional “pop in” or watercooler conversation that bonds a team together and builds trust. Social interaction shouldn’t suffer simply because employees now operate in different spaces.
Sococo’s platform is purpose-built for this type of work setting. Our virtual office software put the entire team on equal footing with a singular shared experience, no matter where they’re working from. Maintain unity and cohesiveness by taking advantage of Sococo’s many options for reaching out. Share screens and read facial expressions online just as surely as in person. Colleagues can “meet up” in the rec room for a quick social chat, or to hang out and eat lunch together.
With Sococo, teams can overcome distance and facilitate connections online as effectively as they can in more traditional settings.
Meet the Evolving Demands of a Hybrid Workforce with Sococo
This trend didn’t exactly come out of nowhere. Sococo was designed with a future of hybrid work in mind. So whether your team works remotely, in an office, or a hybrid of the two, you can use Sococo’s virtual office to seamlessly bring colleagues together.
If you’re making plans for your own hybrid workplace, give Sococo a try for free to see how it can serve as the underpinning for successful remote collaboration.