How to implement a successful hybrid working model

By Vanessa Lovatt, Chief Evangelist at Glisser

Eighteen months after the arrival of Covid-19 and the distinction between time in the office and time spent working remotely is getting blurry. It has given rise to the concept of ’hybrid working’ – a borderless way of working, empowered by technology, in which desk-based workers alternate between working environments according to need and preference.

Thanks to a shift in perception of desk-based workers’ productivity when outside the office – that productivity is maintained or even enhanced by working remotely – hybrid working is becoming a desirable organisational norm for a growing contingent of businesses.

Any industry, any size

Not only does McKinsey predict that nine out of ten global organisations will combine remote and on-site working in the post-Covid world, but it’s also a working model currently desired by three-quarters of UK employees.

In fact, according to our recent research, 150 of the world’s biggest companies have already committed to hybrid working for their employees in some form or another: two thirds (66 percent) of US Fortune 100 and the top 50 FTSE 100 companies are on record advocating hybrid working, while only 6 percent have publicly stated their opposition.

The very idea of flexible, borderless hybrid working dictates that there can be no one-size-fits-all approach. Whether a global giant, agile start-up or well-established SME, the day-to-day reality of hybrid working is going to be different for everyone.

And yet, even when organisations are seemingly clear about what they expect of their knowledge workers, the practicalities are proving difficult to nail down. How should you organise your teams? Who comes in when? Does everyone have to stick to the same days each week?

While attempting to formalise a hybrid working process could undermine the advantages it brings, failing to establish clear processes risks ushering in chaos, such as team members who are never in the right place at the right time.

In essence, the challenge facing organisations looking to implement hybrid working is one of tangibility: how to make hybrid working work in practice.

How to implement a successful hybrid working model

Choose the right tech:

Determining the right technology to underpin hybrid working is the most fruitful first step for a business to take: even before you’ve decided who’s coming into the office when.

Why? Well, like remote working before it, hybrid working cannot possibly work without the right technology in place.

During COVID, the right communication technology platform enabled meetings, messaging, collaboration, group projects and more. With hybrid working two further technology challenges are added to the mix: unification and engagement.

Firstly, the technology has to unify the working experience for all employees, irrespective of where they’re working, and secondly, it needs to engage everyone who isn’t there in person – and keep them engaged.

Think of hybrid working like a hybrid event:

When considering the requirements for effective hybrid working through this lens, many of the technology tools that found prominence during the pandemic fall short of what’s needed. While basic video conferencing platforms were useful in connecting small groups of people in informal settings, their limitations were exposed when used in a formal meeting context, for virtual events, or situations requiring team-wide participation and engagement.

That’s why meetings and event technology platforms have come to the fore: they solve the problem of engagement and unification perfectly. They have been specifically developed to replicate the core components of an in-person event in the digital domain and are therefore ideal for giving online attendees the same sort of experience that they would expect when attending a physical meeting or event in the workplace.

Because they are so flexible, hybrid event platforms can be used for everything from hosting daily team catch-ups to running learning and development programmes. And the most versatile can actually unify the event experience for in-person and online attendees – so that everyone gets the same benefits from the event, irrespective of how they’re showing up.

Deliver a consistent experience:

Most businesses have struggled to deliver a positive, consistent attendee experience using the current crop of remote working tools, whether due to technology and connectivity issues, problems with meeting/session formats, or difficulties encouraging participation, averting desk-based distractions and preventing exhaustion and zoning out.

In contrast, using powerful event technology, every meeting, team gathering, brainstorm, or customer presentation becomes an ‘event’ in its own right. Here, employee engagement is top priority. Whatever the nature of the ‘event’, the technology will help to drive participation and deliver value for those in the room AND those at their desks.

Put engagement first:

The most significant challenge when it comes to hybrid working is that of audience engagement. Employers will be aware of this already because they’ve experienced the challenge of engaging their team members while working 100% remotely through the pandemic.

This is another reason why event technology is the key to unlocking hybrid working within an organisation: the very best event platforms offer a suite of tools to help hosts and organisers create a more immersive experience. For example, they allow presenters to build engagement – from tests and quizzes to polls, games and social integration – directly into presentations. Of course all of this is equally available to both in-person and online employees, in synchrony, providing them with much needed moments to connect.

Meeting hosts can also upload their content into the platform more seamlessly, rather than having to resort to awkward screen-sharing, enabling every attendee to experience the content in its intended format, irrespective of how they’re attending, and everyone has the same opportunity to get involved.

Ensure all attendees are valued equally:

One of the goals of hybrid working is to allow business leaders to make decisions more quickly, without having to wait for certain key employees to be physically present in the workplace.

In the case of company meetings, online attendees have to be perceived and treated equally to those in the room (with technology that makes this possible), otherwise leaders will start defaulting to old habits, delaying meetings until the right people are physically in the room, or asking people to abandon their hybrid working schedules.

Monitor the effectiveness of hybrid working:

The other aspect of event technology that may prove useful when seeking to engage hybrid workers is data analysis and insight. Event tech platforms have been designed to track attendees throughout their meeting or event journey, assessing their sentiment and interaction levels and generating real-time insights into event effectiveness, engagement and overall performance.

Within a hybrid working context, such insights could provide much-needed data on how different day-to-day events and meetings are performing and where tweaks may be necessary to ensure everyone enjoys the same consistent, high-quality hybrid work experience.

Of course, not every team interaction needs to be formally hosted on an event tech platform in order for hybrid working to be effective. Basic video conferencing tools still suffice for basic person-to-person interactions, while collaboration tech offers valuable real-time problem-solving and interaction capabilities.

Making the right hybrid working choices

Hybrid working is not simply a post-Covid pipedream. Employees are already looking to their employers to deliver on their promises and turn visions and frameworks into functional, productive, engaging day-to-day hybrid working environments.

Choosing the right technology to support hybrid working is every bit as important as defining the hybrid working policy itself. Events technology may have emerged as a leading candidate to support organisation-wide hybrid working, but not every event technology platform is well-suited to the task. Business leaders must evaluate their options carefully and prioritise the technologies that afford them the most flexibility and control, and which enable them to keep employees engaged, wherever they’re working.

Vanessa Lovatt is Chief Evangelist at Glisser, an award-winning technology platform powering unique company event experiences and meetings, anywhere.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Glisser .

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