By Rhys Lawson, Head of Workspace and Services Sales, Softcat
As lockdown restrictions continue to ease and we slowly return to the workplace, it may look a little different to how we remembered – and not just for one-way systems and plastic dividers.
Remote working (albeit compulsory) has widely been a success, with employees reportedly happier. Now, it’s forcing businesses to reconsider their policies and office spaces.
For many, the future will be hybrid working.
What is hybrid working?
Hybrid working is the combination of on-site and remote working.
Employees spend part of their time in the office – enjoying the benefits of collaboration and face-to-face meetings – and the rest of their time working from home, coffee shops or shared working spaces.
This could be a set schedule for remote working with set days in the office and at home each week, or it may be more flexible, with employees coming into the office as and when they choose.
What are the benefits of hybrid working?
The main benefit of hybrid working is flexibility. It allows workers to vary how they work based on their preferences and productivity.
So, even those who don’t typically enjoy regular remote working have the opportunity to embrace it when they need, for example, to be closer to home to collect their children from school.
For those who embrace hybrid working, it can mean reduced commuting and more time spent with family or doing other activities they enjoy.
This ultimately leads to increased employee satisfaction. Staff feel valued, trusted and empowered to decide how they work at their best and have greater control over their work-life balance.
A hybrid working approach allows employees to separate their schedule. Collaborative and creative tasks are carried out face-to-face in the office, while tasks requiring long periods of focus are uninterrupted at home.
5 steps to creating a hybrid home working policy
Many of us adapted quickly to remote working when the pandemic hit because we had to. But that doesn’t mean starting in the deep end is the optimal way to introduce hybrid working.
Organisations should consider these 5 steps when planning the return to office and hybrid working.
- Chat to your team
Find out how they feel about hybrid working and how they would prefer to approach it. Would they thrive under a totally flexible approach of visiting the office as and when they need? Or would scheduled ‘office days’ help set their routine and keep productivity high?
- Prepare the right technological infrastructure
Organisations must also be able to provide the technological infrastructure to make hybrid working a success – for everyone.
The cyber security considerations of hybrid working include protecting company data on remote and personal devices. Those providing equipment like laptops and mobile phones should work with their IT team to make sure all devices are kitted out with the latest cybersecurity software like firewalls and even remote device management tools.
Those operating a bring your own device (BYOD) policy should protect business apps with multi-factor authentication. This verifies user access credentials without interfering too greatly on your team’s personal devices.
Cloud enablement should be prioritised for all business applications, to support seamless and efficient home working – allowing for real-time, easy collaboration between remote teams.
- New training
Comprehensive training should be provided to staff on all the tools and platforms they’ll be expected to use remotely. Ideally, this should be provided as live demonstrations in which they can ask questions and gain hands-on experience.
- Ongoing IT support
Then, remote IT support must be provided for those who may still experience issues while away from the office. They must know who they can go to to troubleshoot problems fast. This may be a phone line, accessible during normal office hours, with an AI support tool also available to those working out of hours.
- Keeping your culture alive
Additional considerations should include clarifying expectations for remote workers – like their contactable hours – and ensuring they have an ergonomic set-up at home.
This may mean providing financial support for new equipment and checks, while also maintaining the benefits and perks employees enjoy in the office, like fresh fruit deliveries or virtual lifestyle seminars.
Find out more ways you can bring company culture to hybrid working in our Explain IT podcast here.