Effective Collaboration Tools for Hybrid Work
While searching for the best hybrid work tools, here are several ones to look out for to optimize your teams’ collaboration.
What Makes a Successful Hybrid Working Environment?
Here are four things to keep in mind from now moving forward as you develop a successful hybrid workplace as the “new normal.”
October 21, 2021
How to Create a Successful Hybrid Working Model and the Tools to Get You There
Are you fully ready for a hybrid work environment? Read this guide on helpful tools and tips on how you can create and foster a successful and productive hybrid working environment for your organization.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become abundantly clear that teams can be productive both in the office and remotely. But at the same time, many company leaders aren’t ready to go fully remote and want teams to still collaborate in the same office space throughout the workweek. Many offices are now opening back up and adopting permanent hybrid work environments.
When implemented correctly, a hybrid working environment can propel a business forward and offers many advantages. These include time back in the workday without a commute, increased flexibility and choice in where or how employees work, and improved work-life balance. Employees now expect flexibility, while customers’ expectations are also rising. The hybrid working model gives workers the best of both worlds — and when your employees are satisfied with their working conditions, they can better meet customer needs.
Are you fully ready for a hybrid work environment? And how do you successfully navigate your organization through a new workforce model that is here to stay without sacrificing employees’ flexibility and productivity? Read this guide on helpful tools and tips on how you can create and foster a successful and productive hybrid working environment for your organization.
Effective Collaboration Tools for Hybrid Work
Hybrid work is about figuring out how your teams work the best and providing them the necessary tools to make their collaboration experience as engaging as face-to-face interactions. As employees continue to work from various locations, organizations have found collaboration tools to be invaluable, no matter the time zone. Collaboration tools have also provided many benefits, such as opening more career opportunities to candidates, better communication and increased workflow. While there are some grey areas on what is considered a collaboration tool, the sky is the limit and the benefits are endless. What collaboration tools should you specifically look for? While searching for the best hybrid work tools, below are several ones to look out for to optimize your teams’ collaboration.
Video conferencing is an essential tool that provides employees a fully transparent setting while working. It is also an entryway to build stronger teamwork, encouraging users to communicate and brainstorm. With video conferencing, participants are more likely to stay focused on the meeting at hand. Participants are also able to clearly see the visual cues from their colleagues’ and customers’ body language and gestures. The benefits of video conferencing aren’t just limited to direct reports. If you’re a manager or director, video conferencing provides a seamless hybrid collaboration experience between you and your teams, enabling users to place calls and access meetings from anywhere on any device. Video conferencing sets the foundation in modern business for successful hybrid meetings.
It would be difficult for hybrid teams to collaborate virtually if there wasn’t an easy, cost effective way to download and share important documents or files. File sharing acts like a checklist to keep everyone on the same page. File sharing also allows project stakeholders to look at the shared documents, bring forth their perspectives, and agree on solutions. File sharing also provides benefits to an organization’s management team. As a manager or director of an organization, a file sharing system goes a long way by saving everyone on your team a great deal of time looking for documents, helps minimize project delays and setbacks, gives external colleagues and teams access to up-to-date information and provides an avenue for others to contribute to current projects.
Instant Messaging (IM)
For successful business collaboration to exist, instant messaging is an important tool that provides a steady stream of communication between employees and customers throughout the entirety of projects and tasks. Because instant messaging is accessible through a smartphone or desktop, it is convenient for users if they are looking for quick updates or questions answered. Instant messaging also provides users with real-time collaboration, as well as the opportunity to easily build relationships.
Implementing a project management tool is necessary to maintain organization within a hybrid work environment. Whether you’re just a few feet away or thousands of miles away, a project management tool provides users a centralized place that everyone has access to for storing document uploads, defining tasks, and setting goals. In a sense, a project management tool is a “virtual headquarters” so that you do not lose your shared resources or files.
What Makes a Successful Hybrid Working Environment?
The job market has shifted drastically since the pandemic, and job candidates now expect flexible work options. With the intense competition to find and keep top talent, companies will need to be accommodating to their employees’ needs. Here are four things to keep in mind from now moving forward as you develop a successful hybrid workplace as the “new normal.”
Be Flexible and Accommodating to Employees’ Needs
While it is important for everyone in your organization to see each other in person from time to time and have access to a variety of spaces and ways to work while they’re in the office, it is also crucial to consider the preferences of your employees and accommodate them. When it comes to hybrid work, flexibility is key, and employees want to stay motivated to do their best work! Speak directly to your workforce to find out what they are looking for in a hybrid work environment and the work setup they’d prefer with the help of a survey. Involving your employees will make them feel as if they’re being listened to and that their voices are heard.
Once you take all the employee sentiments surrounding hybrid work, begin to tailor your business model accordingly. Additionally, not every employee may be willing to or capable of returning to an on-site workplace. Employees that aren’t directly required to physically be in the office regularly should be allowed to continue working remotely and provided with the same opportunities as those who are on-site.
Create and Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance
In a hybrid organization, the dividing line between one’s work and personal life is slim, greatly increasing the likelihood of employees being tempted to continue working well into the evening if they are working remotely. Prioritizing employee well-being is necessary to prevent fatigue and burnout. Put policies in place that set clear expectations with your organization about breaks and working hours. Encourage managers and teams to work as little as possible in the evenings and on the weekends. You can also promote and prioritize employee health and good self-care within a hybrid work environment by offering flexible working hours, giving employees the liberty to choose their own working hours or place of work.
Redesign the Office to Maximize Collaboration
Reopening the office post-pandemic with the “business as usual” mentality is unlikely to succeed. Work patterns and behaviors have changed. If employees return to the office just to find themselves back in conferences or meetings all day, the office environment will start to feel inconvenient and unnecessary, especially for those with lengthy or expensive commutes. It will also cause a lot of frustration among employees, resulting in reduced collaboration and productivity.
In a hybrid work environment, employees will rarely be in one physical space at the same time. With fewer people in the office building, organizations need to focus on redesigning the office to suit employee needs and find the balance between flexibility and presence. What does a hybrid office redesign look like? Having your organization invest in new technologies such as enhanced video conferencing setups between virtual and on-site employees, providing employees portable monitors to be productive anywhere, and having open spaces for collaboration and enclosed spaces for video call privacy throughout the office are some ways that can help create an effective office for hybrid work.
Invest in Technology
For a hybrid work environment to be successful, you must make sure that you heavily invest in the right tools and technologies to support it. During the pandemic, many organizations were forced to make quick decisions about which video conferencing or instant messaging programs to onboard. This initial selection of synchronous tools was enough to keep operations going. But to be fully prepared for the long-term future of hybrid work, organizational IT leaders now realize that the basic tools have brought forth their own limitations and challenges on teams such as communication gaps, stifled productivity, and decreases in engagement.
The working models of organizations need to change to accommodate long-term hybrid operations. With hybrid collaboration, IT departments need to be prepared to support it by investing in more sophisticated technological tools, such as remote applicant tracking systems, cloud storage, file sharing, new hire virtual onboarding applications, and video conferencing software that enables remote and on-site team members to connect during hybrid meetings.
Don’t Neglect Your Organization’s Culture
Hybrid work environments should not result in organizational leaders forgetting the employees that are working remotely. Hybrid or not, culture and inclusion are still integral parts of making this work model successful and productive. The real tricky part that comes with a distributed workforce in a hybrid work environment is helping the remote members feel a sense of inclusion and community. Since on-site employees are interacting face-to-face daily, remote workers can tend to feel “left out." How can leaders ensure that remote team members feel the same sense of belonging and togetherness as their on-site counterparts?
Keeping remote and in-person team members together can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. It’s all about investing the same level of effort, opportunities, and successes for at-home employees as the in-office employees. Investing into efforts such as virtual social hours, communicating often through online collaborative platforms, hosting informal virtual chats, companywide catch up meetings, and simply checking in regularly with remote teams can help keep all employees connected and included in your organization’s culture, values, and goals.
The pandemic has forced us to reimagine and optimize the workplace. For the hybrid work environment to be successful, it must not be thought of as just an experiment. Rather, it is an adaptive working model that needs to be carefully thought out, planned and executed. The hybrid workplace isn’t a temporary problem; it is a solution for the future of work. While the pandemic will eventually come to an end, your goal is to foster a hybrid work environment that promotes flexibility, creativity and productivity. Once this goal is met, your workplace will be healthier, happier, and more productive than ever before.