As organisations slowly return to normal operations after the extended disruptions caused by COVID-19, it’s becoming increasingly clear that workplaces have been changed forever.
While some staff will return to their desks, a sizeable proportion are likely to continue to work remotely indefinitely. The hybrid workplace is now a reality.
Needing to manage and budget for a workplace that encompasses both office-based and remote workers can be something of a challenge. Spending and investment patterns that were in place prior to the pandemic now need to be reviewed and revised to ensure they’re delivering the support and services that staff now require.
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There are a number of key steps to take when budgeting and delivering a functioning hybrid workplace. These steps include:
Consult with your staff: The people with the best understanding of how a workplace is functioning are those who use it every day. Check with staff as to what processes are working and where changes are still required. Getting their perspective early on can help to avoid costly mistakes later.
Identify gaps: Many changes had to be made in a rather short space of time during 2020. Review all changes that were made and identify if any gaps still exist. This will ensure that spending is allocated to the areas where it will have the most impact.
Consult a technology partner: It’s likely that most organisations will lack the skills needed to create an effective hybrid workplace. Select an appropriate technology partner who can provide guidance and advice on what needs to be done and the most appropriate tools to put in place. A good partner will carefully assess your particular requirements before making tailored recommendations.
Take a phased approach: Trying to complete everything at the same time is unlikely to be successful. Instead, prioritise the identified required changes and make them gradually over time. This will also allow early wins to be identified and communicated to all staff. It also helps with budget allocation as investments can be more easily managed.
Consider other options: As the phases are completed, ensure that next steps are still the most appropriate. Work patterns are likely to remain flexible for many months, so ensure that the steps being taken still make sense.
Capex or Opex spending: It’s also important to consider whether planned spending will be it will be capex or opex in nature. Many services needed in a hybrid workplace can be obtained via subscription which reduces the need for sizeable upfront investments. It also means that new infrastructures and services can be more readily scaled to meet future demand requirements.
Allow a budget buffer: Even with the best plans in place, there are still likely to be unforeseen expenses that occur. Ensure there is a buffer in the budget to allow these challenges to be met without derailing other activities.
Remember staff training and adoption: With new ways of working being constantly rolled out, don’t forget the importance of ongoing staff training and adoption. This will ensure everyone is familiar with new tools and processes, how it will benefit them personally and how they can remain as productive as possible at all times.
Seek professional support: Look to your chosen technology partner for ongoing support and guidance throughout the process. This will ensure that spending is effective and the anticipated benefits are realised.
It’s clear that hybrid workplaces will remain a feature of business life for years to come. For this reason, it’s worth taking the time and making the investments to ensure that you reap the maximum benefit from the new world of hybrid working.
This will allow staff feel fully supported and remain as productive as they were before the pandemic disruptions. It will also make your organisation as ready as it can be for any other surprises that might occur.