Hybrid Offices Need to Have a Remote-First Mindset
According to a recent PwC research report, 78% of CEOs believe that remote work is a permanent fixture for today’s organizations. This acceptance of remote work as a new norm is due, in large part, to the impressive worker flexibility and productivity it delivers. The bottom line – people perform better in a remote-first environment where they can work from anywhere at the ideal time.
The PwC report authors noted, “As workers around the world transitioned to remote work [during the pandemic], company leaders found that their prior concerns about productivity losses were unfounded.” In fact, a separate PwC study of CFOs revealed that the number of CFOs who expected productivity losses caused by remote work fell by nearly 50% in just the 2 months between April and June of 2020.
Yet, successful hybrid work environments don’t just happen. IT leaders who run successful hybrid work environments have shifted their mindset away from enabling remote work as an exception. Instead, they create a ‘remote-first’ environment to ensure that work looks and feels the same, regardless of location. The following are four key steps that IT should take to transform your workplace from remote-enabled to remote-first.
Step 1: Align remote-first tools to the way employees work
Many organizations initially launched hybrid workplaces by equipping employees with the essentials, such as videoconferencing with Zoom, remote access with Splashtop, and project collaboration with Trello. That’s a great start. However, tools are not enough by themselves. IT should map out the ways people work and truly understand them. This will allow for an ideal set of standard tools, whether employees are working in the office or remote. That way, remote work closely mirrors the in-office experience. This gets everyone on the same page for how to collaborate, what to expect of technology, and how to establish their own personal habits to align with others.
Step 2: Adopt BYOD
BYOD (bring your own device) simplifies the initial stages of establishing a hybrid workplace. By allowing people to work on any device they choose, IT can launch a hybrid environment much faster. To understand just how fast, read about how BDP enabled remote work in just 48 hours.
With a wide variety of devices in use, individual employees will inevitably have their unique support issues. This is where IT should leverage attended support. What is attended support? Attended support enables support personnel to instantly access a remote computer or mobile device while the user is present, even if the device is unregistered with IT. This ensures that every remote employee and their chosen device type can troubleshoot in real time, no matter where or when they need support from your help desk. Learn more about attended support.
Step 3: Leverage asynchronous communications
Hybrid workers often live and work in a wide variety of time zones. Even if everyone was in the same time zone, not all employees adhere to the same schedule. Some work better at night, while others are early-morning risers. With people logging in to work at various times, rapid back-and-forth discussions are often impossible. This is where asynchronous communications prove a game-changer for productivity.
Using tools like Google docs, Trello, and more formal project management solutions, project team members no longer need to be in the same location or online at the same time. Where once the remote worker often missed critical discussions, they now remain equally up-to-date. Many remote-first, hybrid organizations actually gain productivity with asynchronous communications. Among other reasons, at-home employees stay productive longer when they don’t have to commute 2-3 hours daily.
Step 4: Deliver great remote support
Let’s face it – not all employees are fast learners when they begin to use remote tools for work. As your IT team introduces new tools to optimize hybrid work, employees need to be able to obtain help with technical issues. Since remote employees work at all hours of the day and night, you must provide remote support options around the clock. As noted earlier, the most successful remote support incorporates both attended and unattended remote support options.
Don’t forget to use self-help content. Not all employees want or need to engage with your help desk. To save time, resources, and budget, enable hybrid workers to resolve their own issues quickly by establishing an FAQ and wiki on the most likely support issues which remote workers will face.
Since remote solutions will be new to many people, proactively support them from the outset. You can do this by supplying each new hybrid worker with a checklist of steps to take and links to resources and/or help desk contacts that can walk them through each step.
Conclusion: Normalize remote work
In the end, IT’s drive to standardize remote work in a hybrid environment should be viewed simply as standardizing how people work wherever they are. Whether a person is remote or in the office, the way they log in, access files, perform their tasks, and collaborate should be the same. Over time, the hybrid work environment will no longer distinguish between remote and in-office workers. They will all simply be productive people who enjoy a flexible work environment.