Businesses across the nation are facing an important question: Should we remain 100% remote, or bring everyone back to the office? For many SMBs the answer fits somewhere in between those two ends of the spectrum. The answer is not black and white, nor does one solution fit all! Although it’s important to note that 74% of professionals expect remote work to become standard.
Maybe being 100% on site makes your business appear less desirable to potential talent. Or perhaps being fully remote does not spark the same collaborative spirit your team gets from brainstorming in the same room. Wherever your business falls on this spectrum, proper preparation is vital for staying afloat in this rapidly changing work environment.
More Than a Trend
There’s a massive industry shift to remote/hybrid work taking place right now. Trust that this shift is not a short-term trend, but a critical evolution in how we collaborate, conduct business, and provide services moving forward. Key findings at Business Wire reveal: The number of remote workers in the next five years is expected to be nearly double what it was before COVID-19: By 2025, 36.2 million Americans will be remote, an increase of 16.8 million people from pre-pandemic rates. In the same study, researchers found that:
- Companies continue to be remote: Nine months into the pandemic, 41.8 percent of the American workforce remains fully remote.
- Increased productivity and flexibility continue to be key benefits of remote work: 70 percent of hiring managers cite reduction of non-essential meetings, 60 percent cite increased schedule flexibility, and 54 percent cite no commute as aspects of remote work that have worked better than expected.
- Because the way we work is changing, the way we manage must also adapt. And this doesn’t mean a simple policy change. Your business needs to address remote work head-on, whether you plan to implement a fully remote structure or adopt a hybrid approach.
Many businesses are opting for that sweet middle ground of hybrid work, requesting employees come to the office 2-3 days/week and allowing them to stay home on the other days. Because the way we work is changing, the way we manage must also adapt! And this doesn’t mean a simple policy change. Businesses of all sizes need to address how to successfully manage hybrid teams head-on, this includes evolving methods of technology to invest in new ways of communication and collaboration.
On the flip-side, hybrid work offers many benefits such as flexibility for employees, freedom to work from anywhere, and reduced costs for the company. Whether your workplace plans to implement a fully remote structure for the foreseeable future, or adopt a hybrid approach as your new normal, one thing is certain: Preparation is a must! Set your company up for success starting at the top with the best tips for successfully managing these new types of teams…
Don’t “Tack” It On
Anne Helen Petersen and Charlie Warzel are respected business journalists that write for newsletters highlighting back-to-office issues. Harvard Business Review interviewed them about their thoughts on how businesses have adapted during the pandemic. Petersen and Warzel maintain that a successful organization must put a considerable amount of resources and time into developing an efficient workplace strategy:
“The big misperception on both ends is that remote work is something you can just do or tack on. But remote work isn’t a perk to toss into the mix; if you want it to succeed, it has to be intentionally implemented. You have to invest in leadership (like a head of remote) and new collaboration tools and workflows. Otherwise, you’re asking for failure…The best companies are approaching these issues with a humble mindset. They realize that everything could change in a matter of weeks and are listening to their employees while investing in a workplace structure that allows for hybrid work.” – Petersen and Warzel, Harvard Business Review
CN’s 7 Tips for Successfully Managing Hybrid Teams
As a manager or business owner, you may be thinking: Easier said than done! The prospect of becoming a hybrid workplace may seem like an overwhelming task. Adopting a hybrid structure is not as simple as adding a few extra steps or apps to your workflow. The move to a hybrid team also requires flexibility, new tools, and thoughtful management strategies.
While it’s not an overnight fix, it is very possible to successfully make the transition to a hybrid team with guidance from the IT experts at Computers Nationwide! This is what our Managed IT team thrives on. Allow us to evaluate your current IT infrastructure and guide your SMB into the future of work! Aside from investing in excellent technology, there are other elements to keep in mind for business continuity and maintaining company culture.
Check out these 7 tips for successfully managing hybrid teams…
- Check-in with your team regularly: Set a daily meeting with your team if possible. A quick 10-to-15 minute check-in is a great way to be social with your team members and connect both personally and professionally. It gives them time to explain any roadblocks they may have run into or request assistance on certain tasks. Touch base with your team, then allow them the opportunity to work on their own.
- Provide the best collaboration tools: Providing the right tools for your team will help them feel more connected and less isolated while apart. Choose an app or platform that fits your business needs and allows for open communication. Unified Communications as a Service is often the best way to achieve this – more on that later!
- Focus on results, not hours: Depending on the type of business you run, you may need to consider shifting focus to results instead of micromanaging employees timesheets. Set clear expectations and evaluate team success based on their ability to meet those expectations together.
- Over-communicate just to be safe: When you have a team that is 100% in the office, you could call a conference meeting and make sure everyone in the room is on the same page. In a hybrid environment, team members can be dispersed, making it easier for them to miss key information. Because of this, it is always good to over-communicate so nothing is missed. Send pings when projects are finished, follow up with questions as they arise. Make sure your team is in sync at all times.
- Celebrate successes: You may not all be in the office together all the time, but that doesn’t mean you can’t acknowledge achievements. Celebrate birthdays, tenure anniversaries, and important milestones! Create a non-work thread where everyone can share their wins. This helps build camaraderie and boosts employee morale. Did someone new join your team? Have a virtual welcoming party!
- Establish team expectations around messaging apps: After you designate a communication tool, it’s just as important to develop the norms around that tool. Employees should know what items belong in which tool. For example, if employees report hours through an app make sure it is clear standard operating procedure to report time in that app. You would not want some employees sending their time in an email, others in the designated app, and others in your messaging tool. This creates confusion for everyone! Create uniformity within your collaboration tools and let everyone know what should be sent and where. This makes things easier when you need to find specific information.
- Encourage balance and healthy work habits: The shift to a hybrid workplace can be challenging for teams. Healthy teams establish boundaries in order to manage work/life balance. It can be difficult to disconnect from work when you work from home. Set “out of office” auto-reply emails when you won’t be available. Encourage your employees to only work during work hours and set aside time for themselves when work is over. For example, show them how to mute notifications in the evenings.
“While barriers to productivity vary by individual (e.g., stage in life, type of residence, parental status), it’s important for managers and organizations to consider how they can best provide an accessible and supportive environment for all employees, whether in the office or remote. Wherever you and your team are, set the standard that everyone should be actively engaged while at work, and enjoy the downtime they need to recharge outside of working hours. An approach that emphasizes full transparency and clear expectations helps manage comfort, confidence, and performance for managers and individuals alike.” CIO
Invest in Tech for Success
Securing Your Business
It’s very important to have cloud network security solutions for remote work and hybrid teams. One of the most significant changes to the work environment is the different types of endpoints that are being used. Endpoints like office desktops would remain in the office in the past. Now businesses have a varied mix of endpoints including corporate-issued laptops that employees take home and personal computers or tablets that people use to log in to their workflow.
This shift to using at-home wifi and unsecure networks has led to a significant increase of cyber attacks. In fact, the Anti-Phishing Working Group found that phishing attacks doubled in 2020 and have remained steady since then. Now is the time to fortify your cyber defenses! Computers Nationwide has the cyber security and cloud management tools you need to keep your hybrid workforce safe and secure.
Communicating with Your Team
Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) allows employees to find, connect, and communicate with each other in real time using presence, instant messaging and voice. These internet-based tools give the user the same experience from the desktop to mobile keeping work moving effortlessly. This is important in a hybrid workforce because employees need the flexibility to communicate whether they are in their cozy home office, in the car, or at your physical location using work-issued equipment. The skilled solution architects and trainers at Computers Nationwide will walk you through installation and make sure your team knows how to use these new platforms!
97% of employees don’t want to return to the office full-time. Don’t let the fear of change prevent your business from evolving! As they say, adapt or fall behind. Let us help you maximize your growth potential, best support hybrid employees, and be more efficient with a few essential tools from our network partners.
Between our Managed IT and Managed Cyber Security solutions, along with Unified Communications as a Service, your SMB will be prepared to tackle – and avoid – any IT challenges that may come with managing a hybrid workforce. Find out why businesses in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin trust Computers Nationwide time and time again…
Are you ready to make the shift to a hybrid workforce? The time is now!