How SMEs can make the most of hybrid working

Wondering how to prepare your small business for hybrid working? Here are a few steps to help you do just that...

Mike Mead

07/04/2021

Experts believe that the future of work will be hybrid.

Following the events of the pandemic, most companies have discovered the benefits of having a remote workforce. In the world of work anywhere, employees can be more productive, more efficient, and less expensive to manage.

However, not everyone has what it takes to work from home. Employees with hands-on roles in the workforce, as well as those without suitable home office environments will be looking forward to the gradual return to the office.

A hybrid environment promises companies the best of both worlds, equipped to suit all kinds of professionals.

The question is, how can small businesses ensure they’re well prepared for the hybrid environment?

Step 1: Have a Plan

The first step to any positive transformation in the business landscape, is a good plan.

Small companies thinking of going hybrid should bring decision-makers together for a discussion about how the hybrid environment is going to look. Which employees should be working remotely, and which will be better-suited to in-office operation?

Once you know which percentage of your employees are going to be working from home, or in the office, you can begin to make more decisions about:

  • Real estate: How much space do you really need? Can you give employees more room in your office environment to adhere to social distancing guidelines? Can you decrease your office space, or rent out areas you’re not using?
  • Technology: You’ll need to ensure that the people in your hybrid workforce have access to the same technology regardless of where they are. Cloud-based UC solutions will keep communications flowing smoothly outside of the office.
  • Optimisation: In this transformational period, companies with a consistent feedback loop will be the ones that drive the best success. Getting regular feedback from your teams will help you to determine which parts of your hybrid workforce aren’t working.

Step 2: Prioritise Security and Safety

Safety should be the number one concern for any busines moving into the new hybrid environment. Your decision to reduce the number of on-premises employees in your team is a good start, as it will allow for more space between staff members, and fewer distancing issues.

However, there are other kinds of safety to think about too. For instance, if your remote workers are going to be operating in the same cloud environments and through the same networks as your in-office employees, how can you keep those connections safe? Implementing firewall technology and VPNs for will reduce the risk of data breaches.

You’ll need to think carefully about which devices your team members might use, and how you can protect them. Endpoint security systems and mobile device management will be common concerns. It may also be a good time to reassess employee policies on things like setting passwords, avoiding phishing scams, and protecting against malware.

Step 3: Empower Productivity and Wellbeing

As we transition to a new age of work, a lot of employers are concerned about loss of productivity in the workplace. You may even be tempted to start using time tracking applications and other modes of ensuring productivity. However, it’s important not to make your staff members feel overworked, or untrustworthy.

The reality is that the average workday of most remote workers increased by about 3 hours during the pandemic, with many team members struggling to find the line between home and work. The main focus for many business managers won’t be ensuring that work is getting done, but making sure that staff members feel motivated, and well-balanced in the new workplace.

Encourage the use of regular schedules to prevent teams from overworking and burning out as they switch to hybrid work. Remind employees to take regular breaks and check in on your remote staff to see if they need any assistance with their overall wellbeing. Happier, well-rested staff will consistently deliver better results.

Step 4: Maintain the lines of Communication

As mentioned above, this transitional period in the workplace is likely to be a confusing one for many businesses, and their employees. During this time, it’s crucial to keep the lines of communication open, and encourage stronger bonds between staff, wherever they are. Start by making sure that you keep all staff members up to date on what’s happening in the business, no matter where they are.

Regular newsletters and announcements can help with this, but it’s often more engaging to bring people together through regular video chats, where everyone can interact face to face.

Setting all of your team members up on the same collaboration service will encourage stronger conversations between teams, and more modes of communication in the form of video, voice, and chat. This should help your company culture to thrive, even in the age of remote work.

Do you need help preparing for the future of hybrid working? Reach out to Nice Network today for support from our dedicated team.