Hybrid working models present unique challenges for businesses, as the traditional ways of collaborating in person are no longer possible for many employees. Fortunately, communication and collaboration tools provide an effective alternative and have become an essential part of our work life.
In the hybrid workplace, employees are dispersed in various locations, and collaboration is often not occurring at the same time. Communication and collaboration tools ensure business continuity and have become a solid part of our working life. The way we do things these days is:
- Video conferencing or chatting on platforms like Microsoft Teams, Webex, Zoom and other communication vehicles
- Collaborating on a shared document
- Brainstorming with your team on a virtual whiteboard
- Instant messaging (IM) or chat
- Email (used most effectively alongside these other methods). Working digitally underscores the importance of a reliable network.
A poorly maintained network can not only slow things down but compromise valuable data.
The office hasn’t lost its importance
While the hybrid work model has settled into something of a norm, the office hasn’t lost its importance. In fact, recent research discovered that in 2022, 75% of employees wanted to be back in the office in some capacity, either full time or when the need arose.
The research suggests employees have varying thoughts on remote working, including:
- 25% want to work remotely for the rest of their career
- 51% want to choose their work location – whether this is at home, in the office or in a shared space
- 14% want to work from the office on fixed days
- 10% want to work from the office all the time.
It’s clear there is no one-size-fits-all approach to the hybrid work model and the office still has an important role to play in the working lives of many. The 'new' office space needs to be fit for purpose when it comes to collaboration and building relationships with other team members. Employers must consider how best they can innovate their physical offices to provide flexible working options to meet the needs of employees.
Fit for purpose offices
A PWC survey of over 100 executives and 1,300 employees revealed that 87% of respondents believe the physical office is necessary for collaboration and building relationships with other team members. To this end, organizations are adapting their offices with a focus on driving a seamless user experience, using the right technology for each individual setting.
Here’s what we’ve seen in the quest to make the physical office space fit for purpose:
- The use of huddle rooms is increasing, and old-style cubicles are being redesigned.
- There are more open spaces for employees to come together in informal work settings.
- There is high usage of video within rooms and from home requiring ‘smart galleries’, giving participants equal importance, irrespective of location.
This is driving the focus on audio quality and device interoperability. It's also important for organizations to prioritize a seamless experience between home and office, so that employees can easily access networks, collaboration platforms, and digital tools.
Meeting evolving business needs
Hybrid work is not a one-size-fits-all undertaking, but at the same time, it’s not necessarily a new concept. For years, organizations such as professional services, software companies, and creative service companies have adopted a hybrid model with measured success.
The challenge in today’s workplace is to ensure a seamless strategy where those who work from the office and those who work remotely can be well-equipped to take advantage of all avenues of collaboration at any time.
This includes keeping on top of evolving technology and staying flexible enough to change business models if needed. This means having the agility to adjust to changing conditions, as well as the infrastructure and digital transformation strategy to make it all possible.
By considering these key factors, businesses can ensure their workplace functions as efficiently and effectively as possible both at home, and in the office.