What your business needs to succeed in hybrid work

By - Lewis
05.06.22 12:05 PM

For generations, most people have worked the typical 9 to 5. And while there was talk of remote work—and some slow adoption—through most of the last decade, it took a pandemic for it to become a norm overnight.

But the evolution of work isn’t quite complete. As we move to the future, many companies will likely land somewhere between the office and remote, offering hybrid work arrangements for their employees.

Success in remote work

The adoption of remote work a year ago was fast and it was also extremely successful. According to a recent PwC survey, 83% of employers gave high marks to their company’s remote experience over the last year—a 10% boost from initial sentiments about working remotely at the infancy of lockdowns.

Both the research and anecdotal evidence show that employees were extremely productive. Although on the flip side, the blurring of home and office life can make it feel like we’re 'always on'.

The improved scores over the course of 2020 reflect the nature of having to adapt to change overnight. Instead of being guided by a thought-out strategy, the rapid shift to remote work was more of an experiment that was refined and improved along the way.

Credit: Unsplash

The next step: hybrid work

According to Microsoft, 73% of employees want flexible work options to stay, and 66% of employers are considering new office designs that promote hybrid work. Google CEO Sundar Pichai officially announced their own return to work plan included a hybrid approach.

At the other end of the spectrum, just a small percentage are prepared to let go of the office altogether. The majority agree that for many teams, work-life moving forward will consist of a combination of the two. 

But unlike the rush to implement remote work, this next shift both allows for and demands greater planning, including an examination of some age-old workplace habits that have no place in a modern, hybrid work era.

While there will likely be some kinks to iron out, as a remote-first business, we at Ostratto have a pretty good idea of what hybrid work requires to succeed. Here’s how we would approach this next monumental workplace transition.

1. Communication is key

The need to work together effectively and efficiently is true of most businesses.

It’s even more so for hybrid workplaces, where strong, accessible communication practices act as a connector between teams working from home, the office, the side of a mountain and anywhere else remote-working allows for.

Back in the 'office days', business communication was often top-down, with requests originating from upper management and working their way downward. But to support the needs of a flexible, hybrid organization, communication needs to be fluid and constant, with the tools and processes in place to support open communication across all teams and functions.

2. What's a 'workplace' anyway?

When everyone worked from the office, work location meant a physical place. But hybrid work changes the definition of workplace. Although offices (and all of the collaborative spaces they offer) will remain a vital part of the modern workforce, hybrid workplaces need to be open to include the virtual spaces where communication and collaboration also occur.

In considering where work gets done in a hybrid world, it’s not enough to consider office buildings alone. Companies also have to consider how they will build and support online collaboration space too. This includes bringing on solutions like Google Workspace and Vonage that allow workers to seamlessly message, meet and call from easy apps.

3. Flexibility in hours as well as location

The beauty of hybrid work is that it frees employees to perform various aspects of their jobs where it makes the most sense for them to do so. For example, one could prepare an in-depth sales deck from home and go into the office to present it to partners or prospective clients.

But to achieve their full potential, hybrid work models need to embrace flexible hours too. Google, Facebook, and Salesforce are among a growing number of companies that have said goodbye to 9 to 5. Why? Because not everyone does their best work—or can always be available—during regular office hours. 

Although there are times when everyone on the team may need to be available at the same time, freeing night owls to burn the midnight oil or early birds to get a head start on the day allows employees to be their most productive and may improve job satisfaction.

Credit: Unsplash

4. Don't micromanage

Just as hybrid work means the end of using “time in seats” as a performance metric, it also needs to mark the end of peering over employees’ shoulders to make sure they’re getting work done. This isn’t because working from other locations can impede managers’ visibility into employees’ workdays. Micromanaging is simply a bad management practice that erodes trust and productivity. 

Instead, consider that by taking care to support hybrid employees in doing their best work—including arming them with the tools and open flow of communication they need—workers will be better equipped to get their jobs done. At the end of the day, when managed effectively, the results will speak to the increased productivity and engagement hybrid work can provide.

The freedom to do your best work 

There are exciting times ahead as businesses combine the best parts of office-based work and working from home into flexible, new hybrid models. But there’s no need to rush it.

We now have a lot of information to lean on about how to best support employees in new hybrid models. And while hybrid work will undoubtedly continue to evolve as we discover what works best for our unique teams, now is a good time to reevaluate old practices and explore the tools and processes that will drive the best results—wherever employees work from.

We help businesses adopt to the hybrid model within their businesses using smart productivity tools. Are you facing difficulties with teams unable to work remotely?