Covid has certainly left its impact. In early 2020, certain workplace practices were seen as the rule and not the exception. However, in such a short space of time – the rolls have truly been reversed. Our way of working and critically our expectations of workplace culture has greatly evolved. While covid has not marked the birth of the hybrid workplace – it has sped up the adoption of it greatly.
So first things first.
What is a Hybrid workplace?
In simple terms, a hybrid workplace or hybrid office is a flexible approach to work that supports a distributed workforce of both in office and remote workers.
It combines remote work with office work.
As a result, it gives greater power and autonomy to the staff who have the flexibility to work from where they are most productive and efficient. Whether that is at home or in the office – the option is there.
Simply put, covid-19 has thrown a light on the power of hybrid working. While remote working and video conferencing has been growing for some time – the pandemic forced us all into a new way of thinking about our professional lives. While it has been a bumpy journey – it has given a new sense of what’s possible for the employee of tomorrow.
Take a look at the Google trends graphic below for ‘Hybrid Meetings’. Because of technology – there has always been some interest over the last few years but covid has really sped this up.
What are the benefits of the hybrid workplace?
As mentioned professional expectations have changed. In a post pandemic world, the option to work remotely will be an essential for many employees. It gives freedom, flexibility and critically – happier and more effecient staff.
‘If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients’ Richard Branson.
Less Space Required and Less Costs
A hybrid workplace operates under the assumption that not everyone is going to be working under the one roof at the one time. This frees up office space and cuts down on costs such as utility bills and potentially rental space.
Yes, we are reiterating this point as it benefits everyone all round. Flexibility is recognised as an important characteristic when it comes to a healthy and happy workplace. Not only are you keeping your current staff happy, but you are positioning yourself as a forward-thinking company that can attract the best talent.
At the time of writing this, the pandemic is still very much to the fore. By having less people in the office at any given time, it reduces the risk of covid. As we move forward, adopting the hybrid model will be key for the welfare and safety of employees and the safe return to offices.
In a study by Microsoft, it found that the vast majority of leaders noted that productivity was just as high as pre pandemic levels. This of course stands to reason – there are often less office distractions, no commuting and so you’re mentally sharp and ready to tackle the work challenges of the day.
Of course, this is contextual and it hasn’t been this way for everyone in the pandemic (think parents who were balancing child-minding & work) but in general productivity is not a sacrifice in a hybrid workplace. It promotes it.
Wider Societal benefits
Less commuting means less transport emissions. On top of this – the adoption of a hybrid model and thus remote working can help revive parts of rural Ireland and take the pressure off the country’s major cities.
Do Irish people want the Hybrid Workplace?
By and large, yes. In a recent study, 83% of workers surveyed by the Irish Business and Employers Confederation (IBEC) wanted remote working to continue in some form after the pandemic. With proposed legislation now in place, this is becoming a reality for more Irish employees.
Are there reasons not to adopt a hybrid workplace?
While the benefits are clear – there are challenges. But for the most part they are not insurmountable and rather temporary with the right approach.
Collaboration & Connectivity
A common issue with remote working is that there can be issues with collaboration and connectivity amongst team members. However, this is typically due to the right infrastructure not being in place as opposed to it being remote working by itself.
While there are many different collaboration tools available -a tailored solution like GoToConnect can directly address these problems.
In addition, creating the work practices such as weekly meetings or check-ins can greatly help navigate the office-remote setup.
Another typical fear is Wi-Fi coverage. In Ireland, particularly in some rural areas, the broadband speeds may not be up to scratch. However again, with time this is only going to improve with the government addressing broadband and tax breaks in its plan for rural Irish revival.
That said, this is very much contextual on a case by case basis.
So for the moment, maybe one team member needs to come into the office one day for an important video conferencing call. The obvious solution to managing work practicalities and employee preferences is… the hybrid model. It comes full circle because whether it’s out of necessity or personal preference, having the office setup in the correct way (more on this below) is fundamental to ensuring your teams success.
The Hybrid Workplace – The Benefits outweigh the difficulties
In sum, there are challenges but with the right approach and technologies in place, the benefits of the hybrid workplace outweigh the drawbacks.
Plus the great thing about the hybrid model is that it’s not completely one or the other. It’s not office vs remote. It gives freedom and flexibility to do both and thus – work in the most productive way possible.
Is there a difference between the hybrid workplace of today vs pre-pandemic?
Yes. Apart from it being the go-to model for many organisations – the way in which it’s carried out will be fundamentally different. For those who had previously adopted a remote working policy, typically there was a set number of days for remote vs in-office. Now we expect this to become a lot more flexible.
For example, instead of working 1 or 2 set days a week remotely, it’s anticipated that employees will have the power to come and go as they please. Of course this depends very much on the organisation and the type of work. But assuming, you are as productive in one place as in another (which many employees are) then this flexible approach will become more common.
In addition, for many organisations – it will be a remote working approach first and not the other way around. This will create a larger movement of staff coming and going between the workplace and their remote location. In the short and medium term, this may throw up some interesting challenges to get the workplace up to speed.
Challenges for Offices in adopting the Hybrid Working Model
If people are coming and going- the question remains how are you going to setup your workplace to meet this new approach?
Do you implement a policy of working remotely 2 days a week, office 3 days a week? Or is it very much work wherever and whenever?
Regardless of the exact specifics, there will be an inevitable movement of employees. Likewise, your clients, business partners and other stakeholders will also likely be on the move and critically not always in the same room as you. While there are different factors to consider, an obvious one is around collaboration & connectivity and thus the meeting room situation or the ‘hybrid meeting space’.
What is a Hybrid Meeting Space?
These are meeting rooms that are equipped with video conferencing technology that team members can easily and seamlessly connect to. In essence, every meeting room needs to work as a video conference room.
In the age of hybrid workplaces, the old school meeting room is not going to cut it anymore. Meeting participants are in different locations and time-zones. Getting your meeting room up to scratch is key to unlocking the power of hybrid working.
What does a Hybrid Meeting Space look like?
First and foremost it should allow team members to actively jump into meetings and conferences with the devices, solutions, and video meeting software they are familiar with. The rise of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is a key part of the hybrid workplace.
All meeting rooms must be “open” to all users, for all types of meetings and the experience needs to be the same throughout the entire enterprise.
How to setup a Hybrid Meeting Space?
There are certain considerations from video and audio to content sharing. Depending on the room and your preferences you might require tailored video conferencing options like Zoom Rooms or Microsoft Teams Rooms.
The reality is there’s a lot to scope and each room is different with individual nuances & requirements. For this reason, it’s vital to get the input of a trusted Audio Visual Integrator.
Final Words on the Hybrid Workplace – Don’t fall behind.
Our expectations of workplace culture has fundamentally changed in recent times and for most – there is no going back. While all the benefits above are true, the biggest one you should probably consider is that when implemented correctly – hybrid workplaces deliver results.
There is no ambiguity on that. Don’t fall behind the reality of the 2021 workplace. Do your company, staff & clients a service by making sure you are ready for the modern requirements of hybrid work.
Want to setup your hybrid Meeting Space?
If you would like to setup your hybrid meeting space for successful and productive meetings (with no tech headaches!), then please get in touch with us.