For many of us, work is settling into a hybrid work reality. Currently, three in ten Australian businesses allow staff to work remotely and, of those, the majority (80 per cent) expect it to continue long term.
It’s not hard to see why; flexibility allows employees to work productively and in ways suited to their unique needs. Some employees have wholeheartedly embraced work from home, while others crave the energy of the office, and the majority are somewhere in the middle. Although not all businesses have a model that allows for hybrid work – it’s hard to imagine how a barista can work from home – many business owners can offer some form of hybrid work to their teams and see great results.
The majority (61%) of Australians surveyed believed a hybrid work – with some employees remote and others in the office – is the most productive. Some of our customers have been successfully putting this into practice long before the notion of a lockdown even entered our minds. Take Global Surf Industries – with no physical office, employees have the option of working from remote locations. Founder and CEO of the company, Mark Kelly, spends half the year working from a yacht!
So how can business owners set-up up a long-term hybrid model and keep employees engaged? Here are four key practices to set your team up for success.
One -Set the standards
Issues arise when flexible working arrangements are applied inconsistently – different rules for different people. For hybrid work to succeed, the framework must apply to the entire company and work for individual teams that require different arrangements to suit their duties. It’s best to work with your employees to establish this, getting feedback about what helps their productivity. Even small details, like whether being visible on video should be the default on internal calls, or an acceptable timeframe to reply to messages.
Two – Encourage transparency
Without daily face-to-face meetings, businesses are more reliant on collaboration to get work done effectively. Transparent communication practices should be adopted across the business, from the intern level to the management team and the owner. Such transparency encourages everyone to keep their teams updated regularly and manage expectations, while the insights from the top-down give staff a clear understanding of the business’ progress and direction.
Business leaders should identify what is and isn’t transparent in their business and work with employees to determine their key questions or concerns. Possibly, more regular team or one-on-one meetings with managers are required to increase collaboration and transparency.
Three – Incentivise in-person
Research has found a lack of social interaction with colleagues, clients and customers contributed to poor remote working experiences. Despite this, only one-third of Australian businesses have or plan to set up initiatives to improve the ‘social’ aspect of remote working. Incentivising workers to come to the office for social interactions, through team drinks, a morning tea, a relaxing yoga class or anything in-between, is a great way to motivate them to make the trip, spend face time with co-workers and build important relationships.
Building these foundational relationships with co-workers goes a long way in making hybrid work feasible for the future. Consider what activities appeal to your employees the most and see how you can bring these to life consistently.
Four – Get your technology in check
The adoption of technologies like video conferencing systems and team chat solutions have skyrocketed in the last year, and many businesses had to make the leap to cloud platforms suddenly. But while digital communication is fundamental to making hybrid work successful, your business tools should be able to function remotely as much as possible. This includes everything from secure cloud-based storage of documents to business tools and applications.
A cloud-based enterprise resource planning tool will make life a breeze for different business units, allowing teams like finance to securely access vital information from anywhere where there’s an internet connection. This not only increases transparency but also avoids version control issues by updating information in real-time.
For many Australian businesses, finding ways to work remotely isn’t just an option – it’s necessary to safeguard continuity, retain skills and improve employee satisfaction. The best place to start? With your team’s needs as your top priority.