Choosing the right software for your hybrid working model
Reliable technology is the backbone of every successful hybrid working model. The distributed workforce requires access to software, systems and tools that enable them to do their best work, wherever they are.
But it’s not just about productivity – technology is essential for clear communication and powerful collaboration. Employees can grow frustrated if they don’t have the right tools at their disposal, which will have a detrimental impact on your company’s culture and morale.
Choosing the best software to power your organisation’s hybrid working model can be a challenging process, so let’s take a look at what you should prioritise when exploring ways to keep your workforce engaged and connected.
Why go hybrid?
According to a recent survey by the UK Office for National Statistics, 85% of professionals want to work under a hybrid model that blends both on-site and remote working in the future. The popularity of flexible working among employees is clear, and if organisations want to attract and retain in-demand talent, they may need to consider offering these arrangements as part of their Employee Value Proposition in order to remain an attractive option on the job market.
Hybrid employers benefit from reduced overheads and office costs, as well as the increased sense of trust they foster between themselves and their workforce. There is a debate around the productivity of hybrid workers – mostly due to the variables involved, ranging from internet connections to noisy neighbours – but when UK employers were asked why they wanted to use homeworking as a permanent business model going forward, 48% cited increased productivity as a reason. Of course, the productivity of your people hinges on the provision of robust technology.
Start with a strategy
As outlined in our whitepaper, “The Future is Hybrid”, creating a comprehensive remote working strategy is paramount, and it should include several key elements relating to your company’s choice of technology and software. Your employees should be consulted when this strategy is being developed, as they will have important insights to share, especially regarding the types of technology your organisation will need to remain productive as you make the transition to hybrid working.
Begin by assessing the nature of the work performed by your employees, both remotely and on-site, and consider the kind of technology applications, tools and devices that can support them. Prepare a plan to measure employee satisfaction with your organisation’s software in advance, and be receptive to their concerns.
Finally, if possible, hybrid organisations may also want to provide their workforce with additional resources to improve their workspace set-up at home – such as ergonomic chairs, external monitors, computer accessories and accessibility devices – in order to promote and maintain their physical health. Working at kitchen tables and couches for extended periods of times can create long-term health problems, which can be costly for both employee and the employer.
Hybrid employers should actively encourage their people to establish a consistent and ergonomically sound workspace at home. This includes using a properly fitted chair that ensures their feet touch the floor, and their hips and knees are level. Using an external monitor will help prevent “tech-neck” – the neck pain associated with looking down for too long.
Types of hybrid working software
Every hybrid organisation will have different needs, but here are four types of software worth exploring:
Smart office software: The workplace of the future will be managed remotely, at least partially. Look out for features that make the physical workplace feel as tangible as possible for hybrid-remote staff, such as hot desk booking, meeting room booking, team shift management, office heatmaps, and office capacity calculators.
Communication software: Look out for cloud-based software that enables teams to communicate via their computers and smartphones, and can be accessed and used anywhere. Consider tools that provide employees with a range of communication methods, including direct messaging, group chat, voice and video calling, customisable groups, and screen sharing.
Project management software: Employees respond well to the visual flair that a cloud-based project management tool offers, while managers enjoy the ability to easily track progress and set due dates, topics, themes and levels of importance. Look for platforms that offer a customisable ‘ticket’ system for each task – where all key project details can be kept, and colleagues can interact.
Recruitment software: There are multiple recruitment technologies available in the market that can help provide a consistent and consumer-grade experience for candidates – from attraction and consideration targeting, to Application Program Interface (API) or one-touch applications, to self-interview scheduling and virtual onboarding tools. Recruitment technology is evolving at a rapid pace, and it is becoming faster and easier to integrate with Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and customise content to ensure a streamlined candidate experience.
Choosing the right tools
Consider the following factors and how they apply to your organisation:
Features: Pay close attention to the features offered by the software, and consider how these would facilitate productive, distraction-free hybrid work. Compare these features with those offered by competitors.
Ease of use: Will employees require training in order to use the software? You should invest in learning initiatives wherever necessary to enable a smooth transition to hybrid work. This will be integral to the ongoing success of the working model.
Accessibility: Any software your organisation adopts should enable all employees to work and collaborate seamlessly. It’s important to ensure that the software and platforms you utilise are available in all the locations your business operates in.
Communication: Many organisations successfully blend synchronous communication (conversations that happen in real time, such as phone calls, video conferencing, face-to-face conversations and live instant messaging) with asynchronous communication (conversations taking place over a period of time, such as email, project management tools, shared documents, voice and video recordings). You may need to check that your software can cater to the needs of both.
Reviews: We are still in the early days of hybrid working, and it is a great opportunity for organisations to learn from one another. Search for reviews and case studies about a particular platform to ensure it delivers a consistent work experience at home and in the office.
Download our “The Future is Hybrid: Embrace an agile workforce” whitepaper for an in-depth look at the different types of remote working models plus actionable tips for successfully implementing the right model for your organisation.