Is the hybrid workplace model right for your business? If the latest numbers are any indication, the answer is likely “yes.” After all, hybrid work will soon be the standard for more than half of all knowledge workers. And various studies have revealed a wealth of business benefits that occur when companies combine remote and in-office work.
Hybrid work can be a great way to boost productivity, improve employee engagement and retain top talent — as long as you have the right technology in place.
Let’s take a look at essential technologies for the hybrid office, along with strategies you can use to build and sustain a strong hybrid workforce culture.
What is the hybrid workforce model?
The hybrid workforce model refers to a work arrangement that combines remote and in-office work. Some employees might work from a physical office while others work from home, or employees may split their time evenly between working remotely and working on-site.
While hybrid work models can vary depending on each organization’s staffing and operational needs, the decision to transition is usually driven by a desire to let employees choose where they work best — whether that means working from home, driving to an office or taking their laptop to a coffee shop or coworking space.
Types of hybrid workforce models
There are four different types of hybrid work models:
- Universal arrangements are applied across the entire organization, with fixed days in-office or remote.
- Variable policies leave room for decisions to be made at the team level depending on what works best for each department.
- Flexible arrangements are loosely applied across teams, with individual decisions made between employees and their managers.
- Fluid policies are the most casual type of hybrid work arrangement, leaving the decision on when and how often to come into the office entirely up to each employee.
Pros and cons of a hybrid workforce
Hybrid workplace models, done right, allow organizations to recruit top talent, increase innovation and improve the employee experience. Still, there are a few drawbacks to be aware of before going all in.
The hybrid workplace model empowers companies to:
- Save money. For many businesses, the move to hybrid work is motivated by financial benefits such as office space and utility savings.
- Increase productivity. More than 60% of employees say having the freedom to split time between in-office and remote work makes them feel empowered and productive. In addition, more than half say flexible working is just as important as retirement benefits and paid time off.
- Attract top talent. More than a third of employees feel so strongly about hybrid work that they’d search for a new job if their current employers required them to return to the office full-time.
- Improve well-being. According to research from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employees get 30 minutes more sleep when they work from home — even though they put in the same number of hours as their in-office counterparts. They also spend less time commuting and more time on leisure activities that support well-being.
For some businesses, hybrid work can present difficulties when:
- Managers lack confidence. In Microsoft’s Work Trend Index, 85% of leaders say the shift to hybrid work has made it challenging to have confidence employees are being productive when working from home.
- Company culture is challenging to maintain. For many organizations, in-office camaraderie was a big part of company culture in the pre-pandemic era. Fostering a sense of togetherness requires more effort when different people are working from different locations.
- Technology is lacking. Another challenge is finding the right technology to support hybrid workers effectively. In Qualtrics’ latest Employee Experience Trends Report, just 30% of surveyed employees said their experience with company technology exceeds their expectations.
Essential hybrid workforce technologies
For many organizations, hybrid models are the future of work. And having the right hybrid workplace technology in place is critical for success. Let’s take a look at five types of essential hybrid workplace technologies.
1. Team collaboration tools
Collaboration and communication systems are critical for hybrid teams. Ensuring everyone can communicate as effectively as possible means having the right mix of virtual conference rooms, file-sharing software and cloud-based document management tools. Some commonly used tools in this category include Zoom, Google Meet, SharePoint, ShareFile and Dropbox.
2. Project management and task-tracking software
Project management and task-tracking software, such as Asana, Trello and Monday.com, can help manage workloads. Such systems allow all team members, whether they’re working remotely or in the office, to track progress on projects and ensure deadlines are met.
3. Remote access and virtual desktop solutions
Remote access and virtual desktop solutions, such as cloud desktops from Citrix and VMware, make it easy for employees to access company apps and data on any device. This type of hybrid workforce technology supports flexibility by letting people work easily from any location, without sacrificing security.
4. Data security and privacy tools
Tech tools from top cybersecurity providers, such as NortonLifeLock, Cisco Secure and Trend Micro, are also essential for an effective hybrid workforce. These solutions help keep sensitive data protected at a time when hybrid work has led to a cybercrime boom.
5. HR and people analytics tools
People analytics tools, often referred to as workforce analytics, give business leaders valuable insight into how, where and when people do their best work. This type of hybrid workforce technology can also be used to see which team collaboration tools are most effective.
Strategies for implementing hybrid workforce technology
When evaluating your options, be sure to identify which tools fit your organization’s unique needs. Avoid one-size-fits-all options, and do your research to ensure each tool is user-friendly, provides value and will keep your data secure. In addition, it’s important to:
Assess your organization’s needs
Before implementing hybrid workforce tools, it’s vital to assess your organization’s unique needs. Consider factors such as existing infrastructure, organizational culture, communication methods and employee skills. Understand what works — and what doesn’t — to gauge how specific workforce technologies will integrate within your unique organizational structure.
Training employees on how to use new tools is crucial in developing a successful hybrid workforce. Start by creating and offering materials, such as virtual training sessions, tutorials and guides. Then designate an expert or support team to provide ongoing support and troubleshooting.
Once implemented, it’s essential to evaluate the effectiveness of your technology on a regular basis. Regularly gather data to measure the impact of each tool on productivity and identify areas for improvement. This will help ensure you adapt your hybrid workforce tech stack as needed.
How to harness the power of your hybrid workforce technology
Yes, tech tools like Zoom and Microsoft 365 are essential. But for many businesses, these are just the start. To make the most of your hybrid workforce technology and foster a successful hybrid work culture, you’ll need to add another important layer in the form of workforce analytics. Why? Because only workforce analytics can provide the insights you need to ensure your hybrid work model is actually working. For example, you can use it to:
1. Prevent burnout
Numerous studies show employees are more productive when they have the option to work from home. However, there’s a downside. People work 10% longer when they’re not at the office and are also known to work weekends as well as nights.
That may sound like a benefit until you factor in the increased risk of burnout. More than two-thirds of employees experienced symptoms of burnout when working from home during the pandemic, and 70% said they’d quit because of it.
Workforce analytics software can alert you to the early signs of burnout so you know when it’s time to balance workloads and encourage healthy habits.
2. Fine-tune policies
Despite all the benefits of remote work, many employees still prefer to spend some time in the office. HubSpot’s 2023 Hybrid Work Report found more than 40% of flex workers choose to go into the office to connect and communicate more efficiently with colleagues. Others may get bogged down by “Zoom fatigue” or need to take a break from constant Slack pings and Microsoft Teams notifications.
In other words: It’s important for team members to find just the right mix of in-office and remote experiences.
With workforce analytics software, you can track trends in productivity to see where and when different team members work best. You can then use these insights to help guide policies related to hybrid work schedules.
3. Optimize your tech stack
When different people are working from different locations, technology makes all the difference. Employees who are satisfied with the hybrid workforce technology experience are 158% more engaged and 61% more likely to stay at their jobs.
Workforce analytics can show you which tools actually work — and which ones impact productivity or may need to be retired.
How to build a strong hybrid workforce culture
If you’re still transitioning to a hybrid model, it can be easy to get caught up in the granular HR details. But don’t forget to take a step back and look at the big picture, too. Here are a few best practices for building a thriving hybrid workforce culture:
Foster communication and collaboration
The hybrid workforce can create isolation for remote workers, which can hinder communication and collaboration – leading to a fragmented work environment. To combat this, it’s essential to foster healthy communication and collaboration by providing support tools that enhance team-building and employee engagement initiatives.
Encourage work-life balance
Transitioning to a hybrid workforce model can be exciting, but it’s vital to keep employee well-being in mind. Encourage employees to set apart dedicated spaces for remote work, or offer flexible schedules that can be adapted to personal situations. The more work-life balance people have, the better positioned they’ll be to give their best at work.
Support professional growth
Supporting employees in their professional development is essential for cultivating a strong hybrid workforce culture. This could involve mentorship programs, subsidized training opportunities or even on-site learning sessions. Prioritizing professional development is a surefire way to enhance the employee experience and build a strong hybrid work culture.
Make the most of your hybrid workforce technology with ActivTrak
The hybrid workforce model offers many benefits, from cost savings to increased productivity. However, implementing technology and building a strong culture requires attention to detail. ActivTrak puts all the right hybrid workforce insights at your fingertips, making it easier than ever to make data-driven decisions. Not sure where to start? Watch the webinar to learn the top five reports for leading hybrid and remote teams.