As more people get vaccinated, many companies are starting to transition people back into the office. That said, for most companies, the office will look a lot different in the months and years to come. A major component in the changing nature of work is that many employees will be working hybrid schedules moving forward, meaning they will split time between home and the office, instead of going back to the traditional Monday through Friday in-person routine. This means that even when some people are physically present in the office, they will be corresponding regularly with people who are working remotely.
Albeit that technology like Smartway2 can enable people to ‘find a colleague’, then book a workstation or meeting room in the office at the same time as their teammates – inevitably, many meetings will combine in-office and remote workers.
Therefore, employees will continue to need and rely on the type of remote collaboration technologies the workforce has grown accustomed to over the past year.
PwC, a global professional services network, has done extensive research into current and future work modalities. Part of PwC’s most recent findings read, “Less than one in five executives say they want to return to the office as it was pre-pandemic. The rest are grappling with how widely to extend remote work options, with just 13% of executives prepared to let go of the office for good. Meanwhile, 87% of employees say the office is important for collaborating with team members and building relationships — their top-rated needs for the office.”
Smartway2’s research found that employees prefer a mix of both in-person and remote work, meaning a hybrid format moving forward. In our data, only 2% of workers reported wanting to return to the office full-time and only 6% want to work from home full-time, so 92% want a combination of both.
Remote is here to stay
If hybrid is the wave of the future, then that means elements of remote work will be present both when working from home and at the office. So, even if you return to the office two or three days per week, you can still expect regular virtual meetings because all your coworkers may not be present on the same days.
If employees are splitting their time between home and the office, then everyone will not be in the same place at the same time. This means the technology that so many of us have been relying on since the start of the pandemic will only increase in importance as time goes on and the world of work settles into a new normal.
Best Remote Technology
Embracing hybrid work will require adapting to the latest technology in the marketplace and constantly staying on the cutting edge of developments. In this section, we are sharing some resources based on our research to help you make the most of your time in the office and at home.
Owl Labs, a company that makes 360 video conferencing devices, compiled a helpful list of the categories to consider when implementing the technology needed to ensure continuity with hybrid work knowing that at any given time employees will be working from different settings:
- Cloud Computing
- Business Apps
- Mobile Tools
- Unified Communications
- Project Management Tools
- Video Conferencing
As far as the actual technology that exists in the marketplace, there truly is an app for everything! In fact, you might feel overwhelmed trying to make a decision based upon the number of choices. ProofHub, a project planning software, put together a comprehensive list of 27 tools in a variety of areas where you might be looking for help keeping workers connected. On an important note, ProofHub does include themselves on their list.
Project Management Tools:
Team Collaboration Tools:
- Troop messenger
Cloud Storage Service:
- Google Drive
Call Center Software:
- Chimp or Champ
Time Management Tools:
- Hub Staff
- Time Doctor
Video call and Screen Sharing Tools:
Time Converter Tool:
- World Time Buddy
Work-Life Balance Tools:
Note Taking App:
Employee Reward Tool:
Accountability and Reporting Tool:
Help Desk Tool:
Hybrid – the Good and Bad
A recent Wall Street Journal article by technology reporter Joanna Stern, offered a playful analogy to help understand what it will in terms of adapting to hybrid work: “Hope your magic Mary Poppins, the go-back-to-the-office bag is ready. Let’s see, you’re going to need your laptop, your laptop’s power adapter, your headphones, your headphones’ power adapter, your ring light, your ring light’s power adapter… Oh, and you thought this was just a one-time pack? That’s cute. Prepare to do this two to three times a week, as you split time between your home office and your office for the next, well, forever.”
There will of course be many challenges and advantages when it comes to a hybrid working configuration.
Compass Offices, a flexible office space provider, prepared the following list of benefits:
- It ensures the safety of your employees
- It offers the best of both worlds
- You have a bigger pool of talent
- Freedom and flexibility
- Help employees prioritize their wellbeing
Compass Offices also lists the biggest challenge as remote employees feeling left out in terms of company culture, which only further solidifies the importance of finding ways to keep employees connected through technology.
According to RingCentral, a cloud-based communications and collaborations business, hybrid working requires flexible workspaces and inclusive work environments. RingCentral published its list of pros and cons for hybrid work:
- Increased emphasis is on productivity
- A reduction in costs
- Hybrid working helps prioritise the well-being
- Access to more talent
- Some people and industries aren’t cut out for remote working
- Diminished customer experience
- Divisions between remote and in-office workers
What do you think?
We’d love to hear from you… what do you think the future will look like? Are you prepared to permanently incorporate remote work into your professional life? What is your company planning? Stay engaged with us and weigh in on the conversation.
Smartway2 is a next-generation technology company specializing in workplace scheduling software for modern, agile and collaborative companies. Our flexible tools help organizations increase productivity, optimize space and reduce carbon footprint.