How to prepare for hybrid work

Hybridity is the future of remote working. Telework has proved advantageous to employee production, website performance, engagement, and overall company profitability. At the same time, there are irreplaceable benefits of working with others in person. The combination of remote and in-person work is a lucrative environment for businesses to thrive. The Voltage Control team is excited to not only watch hybrid work come to life but to help shape what it looks like for the future of work.

Combine the most effective elements of remote and in-person work to adequatley prepare for the future of remote working and be successful within it. Here’s our take on how to create the most optimal hybrid environment.

Find a Balance: Hybridize

The future of remote working is a balance of virtual and in-person work. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of hybridizing.

Increased Team Communication

Asynchronous communication has opened a whole new world of collaboration and supports the future of a hybrid workspace. While we may have used forms of asynchronous communication (such as email and Slack) before we were forced to rethink the way we work, the pandemic rapidly accelerated our proficiency and software options for it. We’re excited about the rise of asynchronous communication because it allows more room for inspiration.

Gone are the days in which everyone’s best ideas need to happen at the same time, in the same room, during the time designated. Mastery of asynchronous communication allows teams to generate, share, flesh out, and workshop ideas as inspirations arise rather than solely on command. Individuals can add to/explore their ideas on digital platforms at any time from anywhere, which makes workflow timeless and always accessible rather than being confined to only working when in the office. This improves the quality of our ideas and our work, reduces the risk of creative burnout and artist’s block, and strengthens our collaboration by ensuring that all ideas are heard–not just the fastest ones.

Tools for Hybrid Communication

While there is no specific technology that fully supports hybrid work yet, you can work effectively as a team whether you’re in-person or remote using virtual collaboration tools. From keeping your team organized to working together async, here are a few tools that can help your team work effectively, no matter where they are:

  • Trello –  A place for assigning work and tracking work progress using a Kanban-style list-making application. Assign individuals to cards to create clear to-do lists and organize priorities.
  • Slack – Team messaging platform that is a smart alternative to email. It allows the team to have a shared view of work progress and purpose. Pro-tip: create different threads for different topics. Ex: #marketing, #general, #productinspiration
  • Loom – Screen recorder that allows you to capture video screen messages instead of sending long emails. It’s also helpful for sending team members visual directions if you cannot screen share in real-time.
  • Doodle – Calendar scheduling system for time management and to easily coordinate one-on-one and team meetings. 
  • Mural – Digital whiteboard with collaborative templates for visual collaboration including planning, brainstorming, and designing
  • Figma – Collaborative design platform to design, prototype, and gather feedback in real-time in one place.

Prioritize Connection

The future of work will look different than what we’ve been used to. Therefore, communication will need to be different to support it. Hybrid teams will need specific communication processes that support remote and in-person work simultaneously. For example, if you’re having a team meeting where some people are in the office and some are dialing in from a remote workspace, you want all members to feel equally involved and valued. One way to ensure equality is to have everyone video conference call in from their own devices–even the people who are in the physical room. This puts everyone on the same page regardless of where they are physically.

Outside of scheduled meetings, ensure communication seamlessly flows between in-office and remote staff. Employee connection is critical to overall team success. Microsoft’s 2021 Work Trend Index revealed a striking positive correlation between strong work relationships and productivity and innovation. These were some of the Index’s survey findings of over 30,000 people in 31 countries worldwide:

“On productivity, people who said they feel more productive also reported stronger workplace relationships than those who don’t. They also feel included on a typical workday. On the contrary, those who said their interactions with colleagues have decreased this year were less likely to be thriving at things that lead to innovation, like thinking strategically, collaborating or brainstorming with others, and proposing innovative ideas.”

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There are many ways to foster lasting, genuine connections in a hybrid workplace. Consider daily standup updates on Slack, end-of-day status emails, all hands/town halls, check-ins with direct reports, and video meetings to include everyone on the team. In-person offices offer more opportunities for coworkers to connect naturally, like during coffee breaks, hallway interactions, or team parties. Schedule special virtual “happy hours” or non-work-related catch-ups to provide hybrid employees with opportunities to form bonds with one another. It will take extra effort to ensure all employees feel connected and can communicate effectively, but it is what will make your team successful.

Work Style Flexibility

According to Forbes, remote worker productivity increases by an average of 40% compared to that of in-person workers. One reason employees favor remote work is that it allows them more autonomy in how and where they work. Remote workers have the freedom to experiment, explore, and innovate without needing to explain every little step in their process to a project manager hovering over their desks. Physical distance has forced employers, managers, and other workplace leadership to trust their employees. Whether companies remain fully remote or transition to a hybrid workplace, maintaining this element of autonomy will lead to success. Teams who are trusted to be successful without constant surveillance are happier, more productive, and do better work.

Neither schedules nor work styles are one size fits all. Some people need the routine of a 9-5 work schedule with a one-hour lunch break; others are more successful when they can mold their work schedule around the demands of their personal lives, households, or childcare responsibilities. Some team members are relieved to work from home in their pajamas, while others need the office environment to prevent distraction and get them in the right headspace for work. Hybridity gives the reins over to employees to decide when and where they do their work; it gives them the power to work in a way that will allow them to do the best work that they are capable of.

Meetings are also more successful in a hybrid work environment, where team members can work in a way that sets them up for success. They have the autonomy and flexibility to arrive at meetings prepared, focused, and ready to collaborate. The future of remote work will cater to the individual’s work style. Paired with the right structure and systems, this work style will benefit the team and company as a whole.

The future of remote working will allow teams to get the most out of their work. When individuals have the power to create work environments that best suit their needs and work styles, they perform at their best, which strengthens the team as a whole. Combine elements of both in-person and remote work to create the most productive work environment for your employees.

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