The Needs of a Hybrid Working Environment
Hybrid work environments have many benefits for the business, but it’s important to understand the needs of your hybrid employees to make them effective.
Ezra discusses the essentials of a hybrid working ecosystem and why employee support needs to go beyond Zoom calls in order to maximize both productivity and growth opportunities.
There’s something unique about going into an office to start your first day of work. You’re usually shown around the different departments, you’re introduced to people, and you get to see where you’ll be spending most of your work hours. It can be daunting at first, but it’s a necessary experience to get you accustomed to your new working environment.
Now imagine getting a new job in 2021. Instead of being shown around an office, you’re told to download several pieces of software and join a Zoom call to meet your colleagues and senior staff members. It doesn’t quite have the same charm. In fact, it could be even tougher to acclimate to your new work environment because everything is digital. You don’t get the same kind of friendly introduction, and companies are starting to take a more hands-off approach to onboarding. This usually involves a one-to-one video or phone session and it might include a series of training videos at most.
But now that people are starting to return to their offices, companies are starting to face a predicament; should you continue to invest resources in both remote working and in-office processes, or focus on just one? If you do choose a hybrid approach, what kind of needs will your employees and future recruits have? Should you develop two entirely different work experiences for your team, or should you focus on intertwining them to create a more seamless hybrid working environment?
A hybrid ecosystem requires more than just Zoom
For many businesses, the most they did when adopting a remote workflow was ask their employees to install Zoom. Industries began to integrate Zoom into their workflows en masse, raising their market cap to $44.5 billion up from $18.8B in 2019. There’s no doubt that the software makes it easier for companies to work remotely, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution for hybrid workers.
Instead, we need to start thinking about more interesting solutions to accommodate a hybrid working environment. We need to embrace the idea that some workers will want to work both in-office and at home. But where do we start and how do we identify their needs?
Why employees want a hybrid workplace
Hybrid workplaces have clear statistical advantages. For example, 63% of high-revenue growth companies currently embrace hybrid workforce models, while 69% of companies with negative or no growth prefer to have all of their employees remote or onsite. Workers also seem to prefer hybrid work models 83% of the time. Clearly, there are advantages for the business itself and workers do enjoy the idea of a hybrid work environment, but do you understand why your team wants a hybrid workplace?
It’s important to understand what uses your team has for a hybrid workplace. For instance, will your team be working mostly at home but occasionally need to communicate with on-site employees who are managing servers and other hardware? Or will your office be used as a meeting space for one-to-one conversations between staff and clients? Perhaps you prefer to operate your office space as a hot-desking environment where staff book time slots to use office equipment and resources to carry out their work.
Similarly, we have to think about why our employees want to work remotely. Is it because they feel more productive at home? Is it to unlock hiring opportunities across the world? Or is it because you want your business to operate 24/7 so you’re interested in hiring staff in different time zones? There are many different reasons to implement hybrid workplace practices, but you need to communicate with your staff and understand their personal reasons for doing so. By doing this, you get a better understanding of how you can invest in a hybrid workplace to better suit their needs.
Making things easier for both remote and onsite employees
Here are a couple of ideas for equipping your workplace to accommodate hybrid employees.
Set aside a number of desks and offices for hybrid employees
If possible, try and set aside some of your desks and set them up as hot-desking areas. This allows your hybrid employees to book time at a desk before they come into an office so they can access resources such as printers and powerful computer hardware. The purpose of this is to ensure that you’re not reserving too much space for employees that only come into the office once or twice a week. This maximizes the usage of your resources, saving you money and giving more space to onsite employees that spend the majority of their week in the office.
Create a clear floorplan of your office if it’s large enough to get lost in
When your remote employees come into the office for the first time, it’s going to be difficult for them to navigate the many different departments and sections that you might have. To make it easier for them, incorporate some kind of map or wayfinding technology to make it easier for them to find what they’re looking for. If your office isn’t large enough for this, then it can still help for you to communicate where they should be before they actually walk in. You may also want to assign an employee such as a receptionist to guide them around the office for the first time.
Establish working guidelines for both onsite and at-home employees
It’s also a good idea to establish some kind of hybrid working guidelines and create resources to help employees that are working in the office and at home. The purpose of these guides will be to assist employees in maximizing their efficiency and teaching them about the many different tools and processes that your business uses as part of its hybrid work environment. Since some employees may not be accustomed to working at home or in the office, having a clear set of guidelines for them to follow will make things a lot easier and also prevent the need for a lengthy training session.
Hybrid working environments have clear advantages, but it’s important to understand the needs of your employees instead of trying to adopt Zoom as the only technical solution. There are many different ways to make things easier for both remote and onsite employees, and it takes a lot of communication in order to understand how you can make things better for both kinds of employees.
Get your leadership team up to speed with the hybrid working revolution alongside Ezra. We’ve redesigned leadership coaching for the digital age to transform your company’s workforce through affordable, scalable and high-impact solutions that promote equitable access through our world-class coaching app. Find out today how everyone can be better with a coach.