SmartFurniture Blog Post
The COVID-19 pandemic changed the modern workplace forever. Not only did it show that employees are willing to work remotely, but it also showed that many actually prefer to work that way — while also having access to a traditional office when they need it. Read on to learn how to help your hybrid team work well together, no matter where they’re working.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, one in five Americans worked remotely. Today, not only do two-thirds of workers say they expect to work in a hybrid work setting going forward, but 62% say that hybrid workplaces are the best option — with 85% saying they still want access to an office, as well.
Given that employees are also more willing than ever to quit their jobs, it makes sense that employers are letting more and more employees work where, when, and how they want to work.
That said, no two companies are the same. If you’re going to employ a hybrid work model, take the time to find the model that will work best for you and your team.
Choosing the Right Hybrid Work Model
There are basically five different categories of hybrid work models to consider:
• At-Will and Remote-first — These models are synonymous, and allow employees to maximize their productivity by working from home or visiting the office as they see fit. It also keeps the office available for collaborations and meetings with clients.
• Office-first — This model is similar to the at-will and remote-first models, but requires employees to be present in the office a little more often. This model is ideal for businesses and organizations that are more dependent on in-person collaboration.
• Split-Week — Per this setup, employees are assigned days specifically for on-site work and remote work. By using this model, your office won’t be overcrowded and your teams can still meet and collaborate regularly.
• Week-By-Week — This model is similar to the split-week setup with employees assigned specific in-office and at-home workweeks instead of workdays.
• Designated Teams — According to this model, specific teams are assigned to work at the office or at home. This setup is best for facilities like power plants that require safety inspectors or factories that require on-site workers. Other employees, like administrative, IT, and sales staff can work from anywhere.
As you ponder which work model might best fit your team, you might also want to rethink how much (and what kind of) office space you actually need. If you plan to stick with a hybrid model, utilizing flex space can further boost your team’s mood and productivity — while also reducing your overhead.
Making Flex Space Work for Your Business
If your shift to a hybrid work model is permanent, you’ll no longer need to pay to house (and light and clean) rows and rows of empty desks. Your employees can work remotely part of the time, and work from flex spaces the rest of the time.
A flex space can be a conference room, collaboration area, or quiet zone, depending on the specific needs of the employees using it. You can create flex spaces in your current offices, move to a smaller location better suited for flex spaces, or rent shared meeting areas from a local coworking space.
Not only is flex space highly adaptable and more affordable than renting traditional office space, but it can also promote increased engagement and productivity among your employees.
Giving Your Hybrid Teams the Tools They Need
Once you’ve settled on the right schedule(s) and workspace(s) for your team, make sure you also have the right tools in place to ease the transition and make sure everybody feels supported.
Consider these tips making your hybrid workplace successful:
• Invest in Wi-Fi, headsets, and webcams for any remote workers who need them.
• Use a communication platform like Microsoft Teams or Slack to help your team check in, monitor project statuses, and share feedback and files. Add a screen recording app like Loom so team members can quickly record their screens and themselves if they need to explain any complex projects, processes, or events.
• Select a robust project management tool like Asana, Trello, or ClickUp to allow your employees to seamlessly collaborate on projects remotely or in person.
• Augment your Zoom or Teams video conferencing capabilities with a real-time whiteboarding app like Mural or Miro.
• Shift your HR processes to a centralized tool like Lattice, which can both streamline the onboarding of employees and manage their performance — including tracking goals and scheduling one-on-ones — whether they work remotely, in the office, or both.
• Look for opportunities and platforms to automate as many processes as possible so that your employees have more time and energy to focus on the more intricate and interesting parts of their work.
• Furnish your remote employees with ergonomic task seating that will promote their posture, as well as their productivity. The Freedom Chair by Humanscale provides exceptional comfort, constant support, a pivoting backrest, and the added bonus of a dynamic, articulating headrest. Designed with the curve of the spine in mind, the Sayl Chair by Herman Miller features an unframed back with elastomer strands that vary in thickness and tension to support the spine while encouraging a full range of seated movement. The Gesture Chair by Steelcase features a back, seat, and arms that move naturally with today’s tech-savvy users.
• Equip your team with desking options that fit their remote and shared workspaces. Blu Dot’s economical Slash Desk is the perfect desk for employees looking for a minimal footprint and a small drawer for a few desk essentials. The versatile, beautiful, and functional Rectangular Everywhere Table by Herman Miller works equally well as a personal desk, conference table, or group work table. Humanscale’s Float Mini Desk makes alternating between standing and sitting almost effortless and instant. The easy, quick, flexible, and economical Passage Desk Converter by The Smarter Office allows users to change their working position from seated to standing effortlessly in a single smooth motion.
Setting Your Team Up for Success
Helping your team succeed in a hybrid setting takes more than flexibility and tools. It also requires updated approaches to communication, project management, and relationship building.
When teams are scattered, practicing thoughtful communication can be the difference between success and failure.
Communicate all expectations clearly and up front. Employees should know which questions or issues are urgent and warrant team meetings, and which items can be handled via instant message or email.
Managers should conduct routine check-ins and one-on-ones with employees, and remote workers should be brought into “water cooler conversations” and brainstorming meetings with internal teams.
Sidebar conversations during video conference calls should be summarized and restated by meeting facilitators so that remote team members understand what’s being said and can respond.
Not only should everyone be clear about what’s expected of them, but they should be well-versed in the new tools they’ll be using to meet those expectations.
Provide your employees with training on your new project management platform, and give them a reasonable amount of time to get up to speed on it.
Once everything (and everyone) is up and running, channel all project management through the new platform while also conducting periodic check-ins and refreshers to make sure that everybody is effectively utilizing all of the platform’s relevant features, and to make sure that no tasks or deadlines are falling through the cracks.
Transparency and trust are crucial when it comes to hybrid teams.
Be clear and firm about your company’s direction, policies, values, and goals — even if they’re unpopular — so your employees can make the best choices for themselves.
Offer direction, but give your employees autonomy to figure out how to achieve the milestones you want them to hit.
And don’t forget to take time to nurture team culture. Find ways to have casual hangouts and celebrations — even if everybody can’t physically be in the same room at the same time.
If you need any further guidance on which tools can help ease your transition to a hybrid workplace, we’ll be glad to help. Contact our team today!