In theory, a hybrid workplace might sound easy to pull off, especially after the past two years of navigating the pandemic. But there are many technical, logistical, and cultural hurdles that must be addressed to make it work beyond a temporary period.
Primarily, employees want control over when they come into the office. 73% percent of people surveyed in the Microsoft 2021 Work Trend Index want flexible work options to become permanent.
The good news: These arrangements have tangible benefits. According to a PwC survey conducted in November, nearly two-thirds of business leaders said their organization exceeded performance and productivity targets over the past 12 months.
Still, the same PwC survey found that only 30% of business and HR leaders strongly believe their organization is building high levels of trust between workers and their direct supervisors in this new climate.
So, how do you balance productivity and employee satisfaction in a world that’s likely to remain hybrid for the long term?
We compiled advice from industry changemakers who appeared on AvePoint’s #ShiftHappens podcast about the best ways to develop and sustain this model.
Here’s what they had to say.
1. View Hybrid Work as More Than a Physical Location
For Microsoft’s Jared Spataro, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft 365, the concept of hybrid work isn’t just about where employees are physically located. It’s an entire reimagining of how we get things done — bolstered by tools such as Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Viva, sure, but also a change in the mindset of organizational leaders.
That’s because people are not the same as they were in March 2020, Spataro said. Employees are thinking differently about work and what they want from it. Remote work introduced so much possibility, Spataro explained, and it’s important to maintain the positives.
Managers should take note. The latest Work Trend index found 41% of employees plan to leave their current company in the next 12 months, Spataro said, adding that the lack of flexible working plans is a big motivator. Companies must seek balance that not only benefits the enterprise, but that also helps colleagues use their talents and skills better.
Hear the podcast: Forecasting the Future of Hybrid Work with Jared Spataro
2. Your Employees’ Needs and Ideas Are Critical to Success
When transitioning to an all-remote workplace in response to COVID-19, the Austin-based eggs and butter provider Vital Farms didn’t make the decision lightly.
Odill Rodrigues, Director, Digital Integration & Infrastructure at Vital Farms, explained that her company came to the decision by developing a multistakeholder committee, surveying their staff needs, and assessing their collaboration tools.
After many conversations, they listened to the majority: 90% of Vital Farms wanted to be fully remote.
Whether you’re exploring a hybrid or fully remote model, Rodrigues said that it’s essential to make a collaborative decision with your entire team in mind. By putting people first, you are demonstrating empathy and building trust; the finer points can be figured out later.
Even after a decision is made, she added, constant communication and check-ins are necessary to ensure your team’s needs are being met and that your standards for work quality and output remain up to par.
Hear the podcast: Nurturing an All-Remote Workplace at Vital Farms
3. Digital Transformation Must Be Engrained in Your Culture
Organizations that have some catching up to do in the digital realm must first identify key pain points and alleviate them to support a strong hybrid work environment.
Jeffrey Griffith, Deputy General Manager of the Devonport City Council in Tasmania, Australia, experienced this firsthand. When Griffith first arrived, the technology was outdated and their systems were distraught, which caused friction, silos, and frustration.
He knew that his colleagues would benefit from adopting new software and leveraging Microsoft 365 — a major transformation that would require staff buy-in to succeed.
Griffith owes his success to focusing on the value of change. He worked hard to ensure the team understood why it was necessary and how new technology would help them. Digital transformation is just as much about changing culture, after all.
Then, when the pandemic hit, council employees truly saw the value in the transformation as operations seamlessly continued during lockdown. Griffith’s team is now eager to adopt new systems and drive their own change to improve operations.
Hear the podcast: Transforming Municipal Services Delivery with Devonport City Council
4. Don’t Introduce New Tech Unless It’s Intuitive, Useful, and Scalable
Technology is essential for collaboration in a hybrid setting…that is, if your staff uses it.
Delivering easy and updated communication can help bridge the divide, according to Sam Dolan of Attollo and Brianne McClure of Keysight Technologies. The duo shared advice on developing and introducing a new platform (based on their experience creating a corporate intranet) and staying transparent throughout the process.
Their advice? Utilize a multi-stakeholder team to establish goals and get key buy-in; design a platform that’s easy to use and compels employees to come back; and avoid any functionalities that are difficult to maintain.
After you launch, Dolan and McClure recommend soliciting feedback from users. This ensures staff are getting the most out of the new technology.
Hear the podcast: Building a Better Intranet with Sam Dolan and Brianne McClure
5. Consider All-Remote Positions to Find and Secure Top Talent
Technology can’t fully emulate the serendipitous collision of interpersonal face-to-face interactions. But the pandemic caused a dramatic shift in many industries’ digital transformation, leading forward-thinking workplaces to deliver collaboration and communication tools that make remote work not only possible, but effective.
That’s why supporting fully remote teammates — when the arrangement is deemed appropriate — isn’t a stretch, said Mike Ferrera, Senior Manager of Legal Business Services at Deloitte.
Many people have left urban centers where industries such as law offices are typically located. When you require staff to be in the office even a few days a week, you might lose some of the top talent in your field who relocated.
Permanent remote work might not be for everyone, but entertaining the option could benefit your talent acquisition and retention teams.
Hear the podcast: Reimagining Legal Work and Collaboration at Kroll
Let AvePoint Help Improve Your Digital Transformation
Ultimately, our experts agree: To be successful, you must treat your employees like people. While technology is key to ensuring hybrid work works, it won’t matter much without your employees. Consider their needs and ask for their buy-in before establishing any new models or policies. For more tips, demos, and solutions, visit our hybrid management page.
Want even more hybrid work tips? Listen to the #ShiftHappens episode #Ask Dux: Evolve Your Hybrid Office with AvePoint’s Chief Brand Officer Dux Raymond Sy for some quick hit tips on navigating this new way of work.