More and more, hybrid workplaces appear to be the new “new normal.”
Hybrid work isn’t new, of course. Many businesses had already adopted it in some capacity prior to the pandemic. But the pandemic sped up this transition by orders of magnitude — and forced businesses that hadn’t previously considered hybrid or remote work to move to it quickly, or else.
Now, as businesses continue to chart out what a return to normal will look like, one trend is emerging: hybrid is here to stay.
If you’re among those businesses that pivoted quickly to hybrid or remote work strategies without a concrete plan to make those changes permanently available, now is the time to set a strategy for the long term.
While hybrid work doesn’t look exactly the same everywhere, several trends are emerging as common among companies doing hybrid well.
Consider the Changing Health and Safety Expectations
As offices plan for the future of work, changing expectations around health and safety must be considered. People won’t expect six feet of distance forever, but this pandemic will certainly have a long-term effect on how people perceive safety and risk.
Physical spaces should be designed with flexibility and comfortable density in mind, not just from a “what’s the maximum number of bodies we can fit in here” approach. Expect employees to care much more about ventilation systems than ever before, too.
Consumers and employees alike may have elevated sensitivities to cleanliness and sanitization standards for years to come as well. Temperature sensors and kiosks may not be as crucial anymore but could still contribute to employees’ peace of mind.
Greater Collaboration Needs
As your workforce grows more distributed, with some working entirely remotely, some entirely on-site, and some mixing it up as their job responsibilities allow, you’ll have greater needs in terms of collaboration.
The best hybrid businesses meet these needs head-on, both in terms of offering employees the right equipment and in creating the necessary spaces in the office.
The Right Equipment
Thriving hybrid businesses don’t rely on whatever headphones an employee happens to have lying around. Instead, they provide quality personal equipment for collaboration: laptops with quality webcams and business-grade headsets, for example.
Higher-value employees might benefit from their own Crestron devices (such as the Flex Phone) or even a bespoke remote work kit.
The point is this: successful hybrid workplaces identify equipment needs at the individual level and do what it takes to get the necessary equipment in the hands (and homes) of hybrid and remote employees.
The Right Spaces
Hybrid businesses also must consider the kinds of collaborative spaces teams will need to get work done. In many hybrid businesses, there’s a great need for more collaborative spaces, but those spaces tend to have fewer people in them. Statistically speaking, most meetings involve at least some personnel that aren’t physically present.
So businesses have to get creative about how to use, reuse, retrofit, and upfit their existing conference rooms and collaborative spaces. They also must outfit each of those spaces with the appropriate level of AV tech to allow for effective digital collaboration.
A Positive Disposition Toward Hybrid Work
Firms that moved to hybrid or work from home reluctantly during the pandemic may retain elements of reluctance or skepticism toward hybrid work as a long-term strategy, at least in certain places and roles. But the best hybrid workplaces push back against these negative attitudes, presenting a message of positivity surrounding hybrid work.
This doesn’t mean that businesses should ignore the risks. Poorly defined roles may well suffer productivity declines in a less-accountable environment, and the sense of isolation that can develop for fully remote employees is a real issue that needs addressing.
Still, businesses that succeed in hybrid models are the ones that actively support and even encourage employees who elect to use the model.
Flexible Footprints and Flexible Devices
One of the biggest challenges for hybrid workplaces is properly managing flexibility. On any given day, the offices are emptier than they used to be. But businesses must have a plan in place for managing who comes in on which days — or they must have enough space to accommodate nearly all hybrid workers if they should all happen to show up at once.
Device flexibility is another factor: employees need primary devices that are portable (laptops in most cases) but may need accessory support both at home and in the office.
Bluewater: Your Partner for AV in the Hybrid Office
As your business moves to a more hybrid future, you’ll need an IT partner that understands your needs. Bluewater is ready to assist as you transition your facilities to a hybrid workplace. Ready to talk? Reach out today.