The idea of a hybrid office may seem simple, but finding balance takes work. Most employees want to split their time for the long term–but is your team prepared? Get insights on collaboration needs, new technologies, and personal strategies to navigate the months ahead.
Let’s go and Ask Dux for the secrets of hybrid work!
In this episode:
Hybrid work: technology as the common bond
We’re in August right now and a lot of organizations are thinking about going back. But of course, organizations have varying notions when it comes to how they’re going to implement hybrid work.
There are organizations that are still considering that full remote is the way to go—like Vital Farms. But then there are organizations that are thinking about hybrid.
But what’s common around these organizations, regardless if they’re smaller or larger, is how they’re relying heavily on technology like never before. In the last 18 months, we’ve seen the growth of Microsoft 365 and the usage of Microsoft Teams. And that has become the common bond that connects all different organizations as they think about hybrid work.
The pulse of work from home is still in flux. We’re fortunate here at AvePoint that we’ve been doing remote work for a long time. However, for other organizations, the challenge is really around the work-life integration.
There’s still the juggling part where, in the last 18 months, there are families out there where the kids would have to do online schooling and the parents would have to do online work. And it becomes key to be able to integrate those two pieces.
As leaders, we should not only be very considerate about these kinds of situations, but we should also think about how our employees have to adjust their workload and how they’re going to collaborate and work together. We should do our best to accommodate all these different needs and shifts that we’re seeing not only at work, but at school and in our personal lives as well.
Taking Teams further
When the pandemic first hit, the immediate value that a lot of organizations saw with Microsoft Teams was for things like calling and doing online meetings. Teams replaced the in-person meetings with video and voice calls. And then people used it for chat as well.
Now, beyond that, as we’re seeing the shift now to this hybrid work environment, organizations that have been adopting Teams are highly encouraged to take it further. Certainly, calling, video meetings, and chatting are critical, but make sure to extend it now to the actual work that people are doing.
Because there are still organizations where they’re only using Teams for that purpose: calling and meetings. They still send attachments, for example, or they use third-party tools outside of Microsoft 365, to work on documents.
The Value of Teams: beyond chats and calls
Swoop Analytics actually conducted a study that showed 97% of people don’t use Teams to the fullest advantage.
The value of Teams is maximized when it is utilized as a hub for teamwork. For example, you can be in a meeting and simultaneously jump on a word document that’s stored in Teams. You can collaborate or assign a task through Planner or My Task.
How is that beneficial? Number one, it reduces context switching as we work. But secondly, working off of the same platform makes collaboration much more secure. And the third part is, there’s that one source of truth. No more of, “Oh, what’s the latest version again? Let me check my email”, “Oh, I don’t know. Maybe it’s in Box or maybe it’s in Dropbox.”
That’s why folks need to start using collaboration tools like Teams and maximize its value. Use it to its full potential.
Dux’s favorite Teams features
I love My Task that comes with Teams. My Task aggregates all the tasks that’s assigned to me across To Do.
I also love an app called My Hub, which is an AvePoint app you can download from the Teams store. It centralizes all my workspaces, not just for Teams, but I can also see my SharePoint sites and my Groups. If you haven’t tried that yet, just look up: “AvePoint MyHub”. I describe it as like Pinterest for Teams or Pinterest for Microsoft 365.
The secret to the right balance
First and foremost, I don’t think anyone can achieve balance. The thinking of, “Oh, I’m just going to spend 50% of my time, my resources, and my energy at work and then segregate it from my day-to-day personal life”—I personally don’t think that’s realistic.
I believe that you bring your full self, regardless if you’re at work or you’re at home. There are three things I think about on how we all can best integrate our work in life:
- Set boundaries.
What I define by setting boundaries is that you have to allocate time for your self-care. If you want to set boundaries for weekends to spend time with your family or have breakfast with your children, certainly do that. Setting boundaries is critical.
2. Think about what your priorities are.
Priorities change, by the way. So, be it for a certain time in the year or a certain season in your life, think about what your priorities are. Is your priority spending more time on a project? Or because it’s summer, is your priority spending more time with your family?
What are your priorities during that phase or that time or that period of your life?
3. Take advantage of technology.
I know it sounds like a run of the mill answer, but with technology, you can reduce a lot of redundancies and manual work. And that’s why I go back to the point we were talking about earlier, where with Teams, instead of relying on a hodgepodge of different tools and looking stuff all over the place, you can use Teams and Microsoft 365, not only to centralize some of these things, but to automate as well.
1st framework rule: Be intentional
As we go to this new mode of working and interacting as a team, we should consider how different each team is, and we have to put on paper how we’re going to work together.
For example, as we go to this hybrid work, when we go back to the office, ideally, people go back at the same time — possibly, for the purpose of collaboration. What does that mean? When we’re in the office, we’re going to do group work. I’m going to intentionally not schedule calls or deep work while I’m in the office. That’s the intent.
Whereas, if I’m working from home, that’s where I’m going to do all my calls and deep work. Because when I’m in the office, I see everyone, and that’s where collaboration and magic happen when we work together.
So, that’s one of the important guidelines or frameworks that each team or company should define: How is it going to be different now when you’re in the office versus when you’re at home? And we’re going to see a lot of interesting shifts, too, so we must be intentional.
2nd and 3rd framework rules: Tools and Time
It’s also critical to have clarity on how we use tools. What is Teams for? What is SharePoint for? What is OneDrive for? I know that sounds so basic, but a lot of organizations haven’t really defined that. We have to be very clear on that.
The last piece around the framework is also the time. Especially when we’re working remotely, our availability varies. Eight to five is not going to cut it for everybody. Certainly, especially if you have a family where kids are still at home doing virtual learning, perhaps some parents would need to help their children get their day going before they start their virtual schooling.
So, we must extend grace and be flexible on how we allocate or define work hours for our colleagues, especially when they’re remote.
What hybrid is looking like: AvePoint’s plan
We are retrofitting a lot of our offices around the world. Here are just some of the key changes and shifts we’re seeing to help facilitate this hybrid type of workplace:
- No dedicated office suites for specific people.
There’s not going to be an office for Kevin or Dux. It’s all shared spaces and shared desks. And we have a reservation system or booking system in Teams where people can reserve a space if they’re going in.
- Equipping conference rooms with Teams rooms.
Most likely, when we have big meetings, we may have colleagues that are remote. We want to make sure that we have the best video and audio system set up so our remote colleagues can hear us clearly and can see the people clearly, and vice versa. So, we’re setting up and investing in a nice Teams room setup for bigger meetings.
- Investing in Surface Hub.
If you’re not familiar with it, check it out. It’s like these big computer TVs where you can write on. And the beauty of that is, as you’re brainstorming or writing or ideating, your remote colleagues would see that as well and they can partake.
Teams and features
Microsoft Teams: Microsoft Teams
MyHub: MyHub (microsoft.com)
Teams rooms: Microsoft Teams Rooms | Calling & Meeting Room Solutions
Surface Hub: Surface Hub documentation – Surface Hub | Microsoft Docs
Blogs and studies
Dux’s work-life integration blog: Work-Life Integration & How to Achieve a Healthy Balance – AvePoint Careers
Swoop Analytics study: The biggest study of Microsoft Teams ever – SWOOP | Workforce Analytics | Digital Workplace Solution (swoopanalytics.com)
Maximize Teams investment blog: 5 Proven Ways to Maximize Your Microsoft Teams Investment (avepoint.com)
Check out Forrester’s New Wave SaaS Application Data Protection Q4 2021 report where only AvePoint received the highest possible score for multi-cloud SaaS backup criteria. Get free access to the report at avepoint.com/report.
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