Invest in Tech
As thoughts of a post-pandemic world slowly begin to emerge, return to office (RTO) plans are top of mind for many business leaders these days. The growing need to balance workplace safety with worker preferences has led to the emergence of the hybrid model for RTO. While 2020 certainly showed us that work from home is not for everyone, it also highlighted how some people really thrive outside the office. In fact, a recent Otter.ai study found that, of the 2,000+ employees in the US and UK surveyed, 14% want to return to the office full time, 20% never want to return to an office, and 45% say they want some balance between the office and working from home (WFH).
These responses shed light on the fact that hybrid work is the next phase of the workplace, not a passing trend. With that in mind, it’s important to think of this return to the office not as a return to business as usual, but rather as a moment to strategically situate your company in order to succeed in the years to come. So, it is in this spirit that we’re going to be publishing a 3-part series this month of tried and true best practices from 2600Hz (since we had a hybrid workforce before it was cool).
First and foremost, it will be vital to invest in the technology that your remote and hybrid workers need to be comfortable and productive. Because of the rushed nature of the move to WFH in the beginning of 2020, a lot of these resources were not immediately available. A study conducted by Zoho found that 54% of employees at small- to medium-sized companies found their technology was not conducive to productivity while working remotely, and the 2020 Microsoft Work Trend Index reported that 42% of remote workers say they don’t have essential supplies at home.
What these surveys make painfully clear is that employees have been making due with subpar home office setups for over a year now. As RTO planning and implementation continues to progress, it is incumbent upon companies to not only recognize and appreciate the extra efforts of their employees to maintain productivity levels this past year, but also to remedy the situation as they transition into a hybrid work model. This (re)investment in employees’ technology is also an opportunity to review and shore up any potential liabilities that may have cropped up in the rapid move to WFH. These liabilities can range from security and data integrity all the way to reliable access to broadband internet for your employees. Any new tech investments should be sure to address these areas.
While any equipment and software upgrades are essential, your investment shouldn’t merely end at the purchase or licensing. To ensure adoption, it is imperative that you also devote resources to training your employees on the new technology. A great practice here is to have your IT staff either install or at least review the setup with your employees and answer any questions they may have. In this way, you’ll ensure that your employees will have the tools they need to succeed, will be able to perform basic maintenance and troubleshooting on their remote setup, and will be comfortable utilizing those tools to be their most productive.
Be sure to come back in two weeks for the second installment in our hybrid workplace series, where we’ll be tackling perhaps the biggest hurdle to the hybrid workplace—having productive, engaging meetings.