A recent survey conducted by global consulting firm PwC found that most executives and employees expect the hybrid workforce to become more widespread in the second quarter of 2021. Experts claim that while this will depend on the pandemic and vaccine distribution, companies will likely start making flexible work schedules permanent.
Companies planning to embrace the hybrid workforce will have to consider more than just office space and the employee experience. If you’re considering shifting to a hybrid workforce, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Factors to Consider When Building Your Hybrid Workforce
For one thing, you will have to be flexible in your expectations from employees. According to Paul McDonald, the Senior Executive Director of staffing firm Robert Half:
“One hallmark of the hybrid workforce model is flexibility. However, flexibility does not mean free-form. Businesses will need to figure out which employees should come into the office and how often. And when teams are working remotely, managers must decide how those employees can interact effectively with their in-house colleagues without undermining productivity.”
Flexibility at work means employees feel empowered to take care of personal responsibilities while contributing to greater company goals. It means they can take time to go to a doctor’s appointment or a child’s softball game without having to negotiate with their managers or feel guilty for not being at their desks.
Before building your hybrid workplace, it’s essential to cultivate trust with your teammates, direct reports, and colleagues, so you can provide them with the flexibility they need while meeting your business objectives. Trust is at the heart of cultivating true flexibility at work.
Research from PwC shows that 68% of executives believe employees should be working in the office at least three days a week to maintain the company culture. However, 55% of employees prefer to work remotely at least three days a week. So what can you do?
Here’s where it’s critical to communicate. Talk to your team directly and listen. What do they need? Are there days of the week when coming into the office would make more sense? Work with each team member to create a schedule that works for them. You can always adjust it over time if needed, so don’t feel like your plan needs to be set in stone.
3. Help Your Hybrid Workforce Stay Productive
Everyone’s big concern with hybrid work is the potential impact it can have on productivity.
Despite those fears, a recent study showed that remote and hybrid work have the potential to increase productivity by 5%—not to mention the impact on economic growth by cutting down on the costs of in-person work.
If you’re noticing that output on your team is low, have a conversation to figure out what’s at the heart of the problem. Employees might not have the right tools they need to do their jobs effectively, they might be experiencing burnout, or there could be something going on in their personal lives that’s impacting their work lives. The moral of the story is to check in before you make an assumption about productivity and competency.
4. Focus on Employee Engagement
As convenient as remote working arrangements are, not working onsite can leave people feeling detached from the rest of their team. For instance, 65% of employees forced by the pandemic to work remotely claim to feel less connected to their co-workers.
To address this, pay close attention to the emotional connections among team members. For example, you can start meetings by encouraging participants to share personal news or host games and team-building activities to foster mutual trust and respect. If you want to learn more about employee engagement, take a look at our recent deep dive.
The Importance of Team Building in a Hybrid Workforce
Indeed, experts encourage companies to focus on team-building exercises to enhance loyalty and engagement in their remote workforce. Such activities can lead to deeper and improved relationships among team members even if they are not working face-to-face. More importantly, these can help organizations maintain their company culture despite the lack of physical, shared space.
Team building plays such a crucial role in the hybrid workforce that the corporate leadership training market will reportedly increase by $26.7 billion through 2024. This significant growth indicates that companies will likely invest in strategies to bring employees together, despite them working remotely.
However, the push towards a hybrid workforce will change the landscape of team-building exercises, which means that the activities companies regularly used before the COVID-19 pandemic will most probably change. According to the BenefitsPRO website:
“Today’s team building programs need to add more value than the traditional, surface-level team bonding activities that often have short-term results. Successful activations, both virtual and onsite, will focus on experiential learning, with clear takeaways, renewed values, and the ability to modify and change behavior, creating lasting results.”
This new version of team-building exercises may be challenging to implement; however, doing so is one of the best ways to build an effective and successful hybrid workforce.
How to Successfully Manage a Hybrid Workforce
The success of a hybrid workforce will not only be determined by how you built it. Instead, how it is maintained will also play a part in its effectiveness.
With that, here are a few tips on how to successfully manage a hybrid workforce:
The Technology You Choose Matters
Naturally, our dependence on technology will increase as more and more companies embrace the hybrid work model. Besides video conferencing technologies and tools like Google Docs, they must also invest in software programs geared toward performance assessment and employee monitoring.
A hybrid workforce will only be as good as the technology they use. For instance, using outdated programs or equipment will likely hamper their productivity. Employee satisfaction levels will also probably decrease if they are forced to work with slow machines.
Do Your Systems Talk to Each Other?
Internal communication channels will also play a critical role in determining the success of a hybrid workforce. For instance, a 2020 study conducted by cloud communications platform Twilio found that 97% of enterprise decision-makers believe that the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated their organization’s efforts to digitally transform their communications strategies.
The same study also found that many companies now perceive digital communication as the “new lifeblood” for business. In fact, 75% of respondents even claimed that the shift towards remote working arrangements spurred them to increase the budgets they had allotted for digital transformation.
It’s clear: If you want to embrace a hybrid model, you have to ensure internal systems give workers a seamless and convenient way to communicate. System-wide breakdowns or disruptions will likely have a huge impact on employee efficiency and productivity levels.
Choosing the Right Technology for the Future of Work
An April 2021 study conducted by the Workforce Institute at UKG determined that 76% of respondents claimed to have adopted at least one new technology or application to help them work remotely during the pandemic. This just goes to show how important technology has become in this increasingly hybrid work landscape.
This means that companies planning to shift to a hybrid workforce should also invest in new technologies. So how can they effectively and successfully manage the digital transformation?
Managing the Digital Transformation
For one thing, companies will have to pay attention to cybersecurity threats. In fact, 2021 has reportedly already seen a 102% rise in ransomware attacks compared to 2020. As a result, businesses need to look into advanced technologies that can minimize their risk exposure.
Experts also claim that companies will have to invest in higher-end VPN solutions to manage their digital transformation. Unfortunately, the VPN licensing and infrastructures of some companies aren’t able to support a hybrid workforce. This means they’ll have to take greater care to address those issues before shifting to flexible working arrangements.
Lastly, managing the digital transformation will require companies to focus more on the quality, rather than the quantity, of their technologies too. According to Beezy, a Microsoft 365 digital workplace solution, 41% of employees are currently overwhelmed by the number of digital tools their job requires.
This means that organizations looking to adopt a hybrid workforce will have to invest in digital tools that work seamlessly together and cover all their needs.
Your Partner in Empowering Your Hybrid Workforce
Helping companies manage the digital transformation to prepare for a hybrid workforce is exactly what we do at Aircall. We provide you with cloud-based call center software that can help workers improve customer experiences, even while working remotely.
Our top-of-the-line cloud phone system has many features, including:
- The ability to set up international numbers to avoid high phone bills when dealing with customers in multiple regions
- Encourage collaboration by enabling your staff to comment on assigned calls
- Call center features, like skill-based routing, allow you to route calls to agents based on technical skillset. This makes it easier for your team to handle customers’ specific concerns.
- To reduce customer frustration and shorten wait times, Aircall also allows for call queuing, queue callback, and parallel calls.
Lastly, Aircall’s powerful analytics will give you insight into the quality of customer support that you are currently providing. This includes call monitoring to boost quality assurance and a live feed feature that helps optimize support reps’ productivity.
With these tools, it will be easy for your business to create and implement strategies tailored to your customers’ needs.
Are you ready to improve customer retention rates for your company? Schedule a consultation with our team, and let us find out how best to help your business create more valuable customer relationships.