The hybrid working model is a location-flexible arrangement, allowing employees to combine onsite and offsite work and granting them flexibility that was seldom offered before. Getting it right is about people, process, policy and technology.
Hybrid working is here to stay. The disruption caused by COVID-19 has forced business leaders to rethink the way they view remote working, and SMBs are under pressure to provide flexible working arrangements for employees who want the flexibility to work from anywhere. According to Gartner, 39% of knowledge workers could leave if companies insist on a “hard return” to fully on-site work.
Great Place to Work found that words such as “hybrid,” “flexibility,” and “remote” were mentioned by more than 53 000 employees when asked what they like about their workplace or what could make their workplace better.
Working remotely is not without challenges, but hybrid working can benefit SMBs, provided that leaders pay attention to three key enablers of success: people, process and technology. It requires SMBs to pay attention to social, organisational, and technological needs that will make hybrid models work.
Maintaining a strong company culture
Hybrid work culture is how you bring the different ways people work together. Companies that have successfully implemented hybrid working are willing to embrace a people-centric leadership style that trusts employees to get the job done from anywhere.
It’s important to have a hybrid policy that’s fair to everybody. All employees need to be seen and heard equally, whether working off-site or on-site. This requires leaders to ensure that all employees are considered for projects and promotions and that no one is left behind.
Managers need to have regular check-ins with their people, find out if and why they are struggling, where and why they are thriving, and if they need extra help. Keeping communication channels open, checking in with each other, and ensuring all workers feel equally supported is critical.
Putting in place the right processes
Processes are everywhere in a business. Every business outcome is a result of repeatable tasks and activities. Well-established processes and communication are critical to ensuring successful hybrid work. Tools such as video conferencing solutions and messaging apps have become indispensable, but they are only useful if supported by efficient business processes.
It is vital for SMBs to ensure that they have the processes in place to describe how things are done. Processes allow the business to know which tasks are important to larger business goals, improve efficiency, streamline communication between people and departments, and ensure accountability and optimum use of resources.
The role of technology
Technology enables the transition to a hybrid work model by enabling SMBs to achieve greater efficiency, allowing customers to benefit from a more personalised experience, and keeping employees content and more productive. SMBs need to understand what will work for the long term.
There are no ‘one size fits all’ solutions, so it is important for SMBs to partner with an expert technology provider that can help them shift to the cloud, implement fibre and 5G, safeguard their data, distribute, and ensure automation across the business. Cloud computing and data analytics are essential for generating real-time insights for SMBs, while data collected from connected devices can assist in optimising their resources and ensuring a safe work environment.
This is the time to invest in optimising remote working for the long term.