The world of work has changed forever. What’s more, it changed so rapidly that many aspects of best practice from as little as two years ago are now completely out of date. These are uncharted waters, but forward-thinking companies are embracing the fresh challenges and the new ways of doing things.
For decades, we all took the daily 9 to 5 for granted, but the recent disruption has opened our eyes to the benefits of a hybrid working model. These include greater flexibility, inclusion and wellbeing, as well as a work-life balance that, for the first time, really does feel balanced.
The long periods of lockdown, and the way many companies have successfully navigated their way through the uncertainty, have shown us that, with the right technology, hybrid working can be even more efficient than traditional methods.
Recent research results would suggest that the hybrid work model is what your team members will be hoping for, moving forward. Even when the pandemic is behind us, 66% of employees are expecting to be able to work away from the office. But that doesn’t mean to say a central workplace will be redundant. 74% of employees still want to have the opportunity to come into an office occasionally - or even more often than that.
With workers not being tied to the office, they no longer need to live in the local area of the company they work for. This means you now have a much bigger pool of talent to choose from. Of course, the other side of that same coin is that you will be more vulnerable to losing your top people to rival companies located further afield. (Every silver lining has a cloud, it would seem.)
Digital skills are a top priority right now with so many companies involved in some form of transformation. That has led to a serious technology skills shortage. One way to side-step this issue is by seeking the support of a specialist contractor like Resonate rather than employing expensive staff, residing permanently in-house even when these one-off projects are completed.
Another huge challenge of hybrid working is acquiring the technology needed to support it. Despite the amazing job many IT departments did to set up their people for remote working during lockdown, those emergency measures won’t necessarily be the right option for a productive future. The problem is, many organisations are using systems that weren’t designed for hybrid work, and new thinking (and budgets) may well be called for.
There are certainly a few new questions you will need to ask yourself. When your people split their time between the office and their home, do they need different devices? Will they be using a desktop computer in the office but using a laptop in the house? Will they need additional equipment to enable the new ways of working like active noise cancelling headphones? Whatever the answers, you’re likely to be looking at extra expense.
With an ever-increasing amount of business-critical data and commercially sensitive information now being accessed across a wider spread of locations and devices, your security policies will also have to be stepped up.
You will need to ensure security and compliance are met regardless of all the extra devices being used, and that people aren’t emailing sensitive information to gain access to content on different devices.
Now would also be a good time to assess your company’s relationship with the cloud. Cloud technology came to the fore during the pandemic, providing a seamless user experience between the office and the home.
Applications that are hosted in the cloud, such as Office 365, enable your employees to work from anywhere there’s a reliable internet connection. You can even move your telephone system to the cloud so that it can be accessed from multiple locations, just like all your other communication channels.
In terms of unifying communication and collaboration, Microsoft Teams has been a saviour for many since Covid struck. As Teams was mainly embraced for its video conferencing capability during lockdown, many companies are not making the most of its full potential. That’s another thing that an expert technology partner like Resonate could help you with.
Teams is the only solution that combines meetings, chat, calls and collaboration in one place—all integrated with the Office apps and tools like the increasingly popular Microsoft Power Platform.
Another solution that can enhance the hybrid working experience is Microsoft Teams Rooms. This transforms the conference room into a rich, video-enabled collaboration space. Rooms brings HD video and audio into your meetings and prevents those attending from home from feeling that they are missing out on the social advantages of being in the office.
Power Apps, a component of the Microsoft Power Platform, also has a big part to play in enabling hybrid working. It gives you the opportunity to design and build your own apps or use some of the many that have already been made. Take the Employee Health and Safety App, for example, which is used by those returning to the workplace. It allows employees to take a health check and book a hot-desk in one of the organisation’s open facilities.
Good for simplifying complex processes, Power Apps can also help ensure that everyone is able to contact their colleagues and customers whenever they need to, using any means necessary. That might mean line-of-business apps that help employees keep doing their jobs, customer-facing apps that support smooth interactions, all supported by a digital infrastructure that enables work to continue no matter how many miles there are between team members.
As you will no doubt have discovered yourself, people are working more flexible hours on the days they’re at home – that’s one of the big attractions of hybrid working. They no longer have to worry about a commute, but they might have to factor in one half of the daily school run, for example. Early birds and night owls are finding they have an opportunity to please themselves with these new ways of working.
Working within these less rigid structures, Power Apps and Teams can facilitate effective collaboration to ensure that deadlines are still being met and that meetings still happen, even though team members might be working to different schedules.
If multiple approvals are needed, for example, with people working different shifts in different locations, a simple Power App can set up a system and ensure the process is completed efficiently and cost-effectively.
Another advantage of teaming up with a Microsoft Gold Partner like Resonate to help your transition to full-time hybrid working is the library of useful apps that we’re adding to all the time to make life easier and more efficient for companies like yours.
With so much to consider, for many businesses there is a real need to seek specialist guidance and support, as well as to implement relevant hardware and software solutions. This is where Resonate can help.
Our hugely experienced technical and consultancy teams are on hand to deliver everything from end-to-end hybrid working solutions to augmenting your existing team on certain tasks. Why not take a look at our hybrid working services here, or take our hybrid working readiness assessment to see if your office is ready for the workforce of the future.