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The global pandemic changed the world of work forever. More and more companies are now allowing their employees to work remotely with 100% onsite teams increasingly a thing of the past. With gains in productivity, employee wellbeing and reduced operational costs – it’s not hard to see why.
Over 80% of firms anticipate maintaining some remote working in the years to come. Hybrid teams are one way of doing this, and it’s a trend that’s rapidly picking up pace.
But what exactly is a hybrid workforce? Today, we explain this key term, some of the main benefits and challenges involved, as well as four tech solutions to help your business make the big move…
The hybrid model: what is it?
You may have heard the term “hybrid workforce” mentioned before – but what exactly does it entail?
A hybrid model simply refers to a mix of working methods and locations. It offers employees greater flexibility, with options to work from company offices, home or just about anywhere else! Instead of structuring work around a physical location or desk space, work is structured around your employees lives and productivity needs.
A hybrid team is a type of blended workforce, with some people working remotely and others from the office or retail space. What this looks like in practice will be different for each organization – and even change as your business develops. You might allocate certain days for in-person collaboration or key meetings, and other days for remote work. One team might commute occasionally whilst others work entirely remotely. It’s all about flexibility and productivity!
What are the benefits of a hybrid workforce?
Advantages of the hybrid approach include:
- Greater productivity – many employees report increased productivity and concentration. Hybrid models also lead to reduced absenteeism and sick days.
- Reduced stress – office environments can be very stressful for some people. Hybrid solutions present opportunities to balance the flexibility of remote work with the camaraderie of office life.
- Cost savings – with less office space required, you can cut down on rents and your employees can cut down on commuting costs. It’s a win, win.
- Removing barriers to hiring – geographic barriers are no longer an issue, giving you access to a wider pool of talent. With a greater work/life balance, workers are happier and more likely to stay with your company long-term.
What are the issues facing a hybrid workforce?
Despite the many benefits, there are potential pitfalls to the hybrid work model:
- Inadequate technology – the success or failure of hybrid approaches often depend on the effectiveness of technology solutions. Without appropriate support, communication and productivity can be impaired.
- Collaboration may suffer – teamwork and collaboration can be harder if employees aren’t able to interact due to a lack of effective collaboration and communications technology.
- Data security risks – going hybrid introduces additional cybersecurity concerns, especially if the appropriate Cyber Security solutions haven’t been implemented throughout your network and your staff haven’t undertaken any Cyber Security Awareness training courses.
- Vague expectations – it’s important to set consistent expectations and working hours for all employees across your organisation, wherever they’re working from.
4 awesome tech solutions for hybrid work.
Given the benefits to small businesses, hybrid working is certainly worth investing in. There are many aspects to consider however, from updated cybersecurity policies to people management and knowledge sharing.
The good news is there are many tech solutions on the market, geared towards getting the most out of a hybrid workforce. Here are some picks of the most useful tech solutions for managing and empowering hybrid teams:
Microsoft Teams enables your workforce to meet, chat and cooperate – all in one place. You can set up your team’s “space” with a unique combination of apps.
With abilities to host meetings and webinars for up to 1,000 attendees (with added presentation tools and advanced face recognition software), share and collaborate on files as well as instant messaging – there’s a whole host of useful functionality.
Microsoft Teams also fully integrates with your existing Microsoft Office suite, as well as popular apps such as Asana, Zoom and Trello.
Basic business features are free, with “essential” packages starting from £3 per user, per month. Microsoft 365 Business Premium packages rise to over £15 per user per month – but include all the latest versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint as well as cloud storage and collaboration tools.
With the strapline “slack is where the future works” – you may have come across this teamworking solution before! Slack enables new methods of team communication, perfect for hybrid workforces.
They tailor their offering for different team types – including customer services, IT and engineering, sales, HR and marketing. Each team can have their own channel, where all messages and files are stored. With opportunities for video and voice call integrations, it’s useful for casual check-ins and conversations as well as more formal project management.
They offer multiple subscription packages (starting at £5.25 per person per month), making it a great option for small businesses.
Formerly known as G-Suite, Google Workplace provides secure collaboration and cloud-based productivity apps for businesses of all sizes. Store, edit and collaborate on all your tasks and documents in one place.
This includes custom email for your business, as well as collaboration tools such Google Meet (with up to 100 participant video meetings), Chat, Docs, Sheets, Sites, Calendars and more. Business starter packages begin at just £4.14 per user per month, making Google Workplace an affordable, effective solution.
With 30 GB cloud storage per user, dedicated support teams as well as data security tools, there’s a lot of benefits for hybrid teams.
Asana is a web and mobile app designed to help teams organize, manage and track hybrid work. They help businesses “work on big ideas, without the busywork”. With project management tools, task lists, calendars, request forms and timeline overviews – it’s a great solution for keeping everyone on track.
In addition, Asana offers process management solutions to automate routine tasks. It’s a user-friendly, reliable and effective tool. Asana also have over 200 integrations, so you can use it alongside any existing tech – such as Google Workplace, Zoom, Adobe, Salesforce and more.
There are free options for teams just getting started with hybrid work, whilst full business solutions start from £20.99 per user, per month.
If you’re implementing a hybrid workforce, there’s plenty of technology to help your businesses function effectively. Whether work is taking place in the office, at home or any other location – keep your team working positively, efficiently and collaboratively!