There’s no doubt that the global pandemic has had a lasting effect on the way businesses and organisations manage their teams and their working schedules.
First and foremost, its sudden arrival forced many businesses and their employees to adapt to remote working virtually overnight. And while in hindsight, the benefits of working remotely are plain to see, there have also been challenges to overcome in the process; particularly in relation to the ease of communication that is hard to replicate outside of an office environment.
Now that the world is slowly opening up again, companies around the world are trialling a hybrid work environment in an effort to combine practicality with flexibility.
What is hybrid working?
The hybrid model is designed to facilitate both the needs of the business and those of the team, by offering a combination of in-office and remote working. It may allow for employees to work a portion of the week in the office and the remainder from home; or it might refer to a set-up that sees one team working full time in the office, while another team works off-site.
While it’s important to note that every business will have to find the right working model to suit their teams, depending on the nature of the business and the number of employees, hybrid working is certainly a trending term at present.
According to a recent survey, while most Irish businesses expect to be back in the office by Autumn 2021, they will increase the combination of remote and on-site working over the coming years. More interestingly, four out of five businesses surveyed stated that they will adopt a hybrid working model when their offices reopen.
Irish employees also seem wholly supportive of this move, with 80 percent of those surveyed for a recent study revealing that they would be in favour of a working model that would allow them to split their time between the home and the office. It would then appear that from both a business and employee perspective, hybrid working is indeed the future.
To retain valuable employees and attract new team members, it seems companies will have to adapt their business model to allow for flexibility. This is an integral move to stay ahead of the competition.
How can a workspace adapt to the hybrid model?
In order to successfully adapt to the hybrid working model, businesses will need to invest time and money into modifying the physical layout of the office. One of the challenges they will face is learning to utilise their space as efficiently as possible, while ensuring flexibility and functionality.
Here are some options that should be considered when preparing the office space for hybrid working.
1. Flexible Desking
This option works on the basis that employees can book their desks each morning they come into the office. It allows for hybrid workers to reserve a desk for the days they require; when they have not been booked, the desks are available for other employees.
This solves the issue of wasted desk space, as there is no need to supply one to every employee in the business – just to those working in the office on any given day.
2. Meeting Rooms
These are essential for communication between in-office workers and remote workers. These rooms should be soundproofed to eliminate noise distraction from other activities in the workplace, which can hinder productivity.
Having video conferencing equipment set up in meeting rooms will also allow for remote workers to connect to their colleagues in the office. Operating a booking system for meeting rooms will ensure that each one is used efficiently and is set up ready for video calls.
3. Collaborative Spaces
These can be spaces for both hybrid workers and office workers to connect and collaborate on group tasks. The space can also be used for group training and development. Having facilities on hand for PowerPoint presentations will be hugely beneficial.
4. Redefining Workspaces
Changing up the structure of the office is a great way of ensuring that the space is used efficiently. Allocating different spaces to different areas of work allows office-based employees a certain element of freedom, enabling them to move more freely from space to space, depending on the tasks they are carrying out.
They may attend a socially distanced one-on-one meeting in the huddle spaces, use a pre-booked desk for their solo work, and use a conference room for team meetings, all in one day.
Choosing the right software for hybrid working
High-performing video conferencing tools are a must within a hybrid workspace, to ensure clear communication between employees working remotely and those based in the office.
Microsoft Teams software will also prove invaluable to businesses adapting to a hybrid working model, offering features such as digital shared whiteboards, live transcriptions, captions and chat, and intelligent camera captures, all of which allow for real-time brainstorming sessions.
Additionally, employees will need to have the correct software to facilitate a seamless move from office to remote workspace. This is where Azure Virtual Desktop proves itself as a valuable asset for your business.
What are the benefits of Azure Virtual Desktop?
The Azure system allows for employees to access their desktop regardless of their location, be it in the office or working from home. Microsoft’s Azure Virtual Desktop is a feature of note, providing the user with secure access to all their data, emails and applications from any device. It ensures that any info an employee needs will be at their fingertips.
This software also ensures that any sensitive company data will be stored securely in Azure Cloud and protected by the most up-to-date security protocols. For an extra incentive, it comes with all standard Microsoft Windows features, such as Word, Excel, Outlook, Powerpoint, Microsoft Teams, Sharepoint and OneDrive.
At a glance, the core benefits are:
- Efficient and productive remote working
- Improved productivity
- Secure data protection
- Flexible, scalable monthly options
- Fast, reliable performance
- Reduced capital costs
- Familiar windows 10 environment
- Simple deployment of uniform desktops
The first step towards hybrid working
Given that this is a new and experimental phase for many businesses, it may take some adjustments along the way to ensure a smooth and efficient process for all involved. It’s also important to get feedback from employees on how they are finding the transition to hybrid working. At the end of the day, the more satisfied employees are in their work, the more productive they will be and this, in the long run, will save businesses money.
If your company is planning the move towards a hybrid workplace, one of the first steps you should take is to ensure your existing software is up to the challenge. Contact Calnet IT Solutions today to find out more about Azure Virtual Desktop or other software that will make the transition period seamless and stress-free.