Now that most organizations are returning to the office, there are varying extremes – some leaders demand that employees return to the office, with some employees revolting and some rejoicing to be together again. On the other hand, some companies have closed physical offices and made remote work permanent; creating a sigh of relief for some employees and creating frustration for others.
Most of us are somewhere in between, trying our best to take a measured approach at building the right hybrid strategy tailored to company culture. Some seemingly have begun to crack the code, while the majority are grappling with the when, how, why, and who of this new hybrid work reality.
Hybrid work success looks different depending on who you ask. Your company is made up of a cast of players, each with a role critical to a competitive and thriving business, and with an eye on their North Star: employee happiness. How do you appease all those stakeholders so we can all just move on and do our jobs without getting bogged down with the mechanics of it all?
IT: The technology behind hybrid success
Let’s first consider IT, which is the team most bogged down in the mechanics of it all. Heroically having kept workforces running with ad hoc setups during the pandemic, this team is now focused on standardizing technology for the varied mix of remote and in-office employees.
However, employee expectations are completely different than they were pre-pandemic. Technology that was once a nice-to-have is now table stakes not only in conference rooms, but for any space — whether that’s a private office, hot desk, or remote desk.
As a result the IT team is now thinking holistically about how to outfit their hybrid workforces so that each employee has equal access to the highest-quality hardware, software, and solutions. The setups also have to play well in an ecosystem where employees routinely toggle between Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, and a number of other web-based platforms for video meetings.
Facilities: Configuring “anywhere” spaces
Since the pandemic, facilities teams have redesigned, closed, shrunk, expanded, rebuilt, moved, and retrofitted offices to accommodate the dynamics of an evolving workforce. Whether they’re creating hot desks, huddle rooms, or traditional conference rooms, this team has the difficult task of space-planning for employees who may or may not even come into the physical office on any given day.
Rightsizing, where each meeting space is outfitted for a specific purpose, is top of mind for facilities pros. Reconfiguring rooms to support new hybrid work schedules enables personalization and a safe return to the office. Understanding how employees will use spaces as they come back, and enabling them to easily find and use these spaces will be critical for success.
For example, many new hybrid offices have installed single-person video booths as well as two-person focus rooms. Implementing the right technology in each of these spaces is the first step, but having tools that help employees schedule and find these spaces reduces the frustration of using these newly updated spaces.
Human Resources: It’s all about the employee experience
Keeping the Great Resignation at bay is just the start for this team. HR professionals are trying to build and retain a healthy, productive workforce, in all its facets and complications.
Having distributed locations, while sometimes seen as a tremendous benefit, can also bring drawbacks from the lack of face-to-face communication, onboarding, and mentoring. HR leaders are also keenly aware of the lack of equitable experiences some remote employees face when meeting with in-office colleagues.
While some of the HR team’s concerns about employee experiences can be solved with technology (like using easy, intuitive tech to connect teams), the HR team’s challenges stretch into areas that are hard to measure. Cultivating creativity and building unified cultures within hybrid work are massive undertakings with no one-size-fits-all solution.
Finance team: Investment decisions
Finance teams are looking at the not-so-insignificant impact of hybrid work costs. One of the challenges is hybrid work’s coordination problem, as highlighted by Microsoft in its 2022 Work Trends Index Report. Because most organizations have yet to take a data-driven approach to hybrid work, they are continuing to incur the cost of maintaining their campuses while also shelling out work-from-home stipends to a growing virtual workplace.
Thinking smart about hybrid
Our focus at Hybrid Work Solutions is helping the industry solve many of these problems.
Making hybrid work successful for everyone requires much more than AI-based innovations. We’ve built solutions that help make the virtual meeting experience more equitable for all, provide analytics and insights into meeting room usage, while bringing simplicity with one touch.
But that’s just the beginning. Listening to all stakeholders — and seeing their challenges through the lens of their role — is the smartest possible start to make this hybrid work actually work. And we’re on it.