The last few years have proved that hybrid work is the new normal. According to a Gallup poll, 91% of workers in the US are working at least some of their hours remotely. However, this new model comes with a fresh set of challenges that the traditional workplace is not set up to address. Employers need to address the challenges hybrid workers face and actively work to make their experience more conducive to the new way of working.
One of the biggest challenges is closing the collaboration gap between remote and in-office workers. This disconnection is felt physically and mentally in team meetings and brainstorms throughout the day. Connectivity issues can also play a role, causing disruptions that make remote workers feel completely cut off from their colleagues and left out of opportunities. Over time, these challenges can lead to detrimental shifts in office culture.
To address these challenges and create the most natural and easy work environment, employers can focus on these three aspects: technology, workplace adaptability and leadership.
Technology is a key factor in ensuring stronger collaboration and making hybrid experiences feel more natural. It is important to realize that creating a strong working environment for remote and in-person employees means collaboration cannot be a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution. Companies should carefully evaluate their original working environment and current hardware investment, and make the appropriate changes based on their employees’ new hybrid needs. One way Lenovo has streamlined this process is by offering collaboration as a service, allowing businesses to update their hardware, having software and service needs on-demand, according to how their employees are using existing technology. Implementing collaboration as a service enables companies to quickly adapt to changing business needs and ensures that employees will always have the best working environment possible.
Adapting the workplace to enhance both in-office and remote workers’ experience is essential to creating an efficient and satisfied workforce. There are many ways to re-work the office to better serve employees, such as using triangular tables that face full-size screens in meeting rooms, adding huddle rooms and booths for different modes of working whether it’s solo or in small teams, and upgrading the AV equipment in meeting rooms. Ensuring employees have strong connectivity while remote is also crucial. A couple ways to address this are giving employees access to technology with more connectivity options or offering stipends to help offset upgraded internet access. The goal is for every employee to have a voice so that no one feels left out. These solutions will take time to implement, but with open feedback and discussion, companies can find what works best for them.
Even if all these changes are made, hybrid work will not be successful without clear guidance from company leadership to set the tone and lead by example. An executive who spends most of their time in the office should consider working remotely and joining hybrid meetings more regularly. Leaders who are present at on-site meetings can participate from their own devices to equalize the experience for everyone or can actively invite participation from remote workers to ensure that their ideas are heard during collaboration. Other ideas include in-person meetings or workshops once a quarter where all team members can meet face to face. This will encourage team building and create stronger interactions going forward. Strong leadership will help to create a set of values and unwritten rules that unite your workforce.
Technology, workplace adaptability and leadership are the keys to addressing today’s hybrid work challenges and building a more collaborative, inclusive work environment. We should continue to focus on innovative solutions like introducing collaboration as a service to better serve hybrid workers and blended teams. Hybrid work is here to stay, and employers need to ensure that everyone is set up to succeed.
Shannon MacKay, General Manager of Lenovo’s Smart Collaboration Business Group is responsible for leading the team that makes ThinkSmart smart collaboration technology and services to support flexible work. She is passionate about building more inclusive teams and developing new collaborative work experiences.
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