How to Effectively Collaborate Within a Hybrid Work Model

  • 9/29/2021
Businessman Looking Out Window at City Skyline

The hybrid model of remote and in-office settings will likely become a permanent part of our work culture. Consider ways to keep your employees active and productive within this new normal.

Key insights

  • Many organizations are shifting toward a permanent hybrid model for their workforce.
  • Some jobs are better suited to the hybrid model than others.
  • A variety of tools and efforts can help keep remote and in-office workers connected and cohesive.

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When COVID-19 descended upon the world, organizations were forced to adapt on the fly and find ways for employees to remain productive while working from home. The assumption was once the pandemic ended, things would go back to the way they were.

While the 100% remote work environment is no longer necessary, many employers are welcoming a shift to a “hybrid” work environment, with employees splitting time between going into the office and working from home.

A recent Work Trend study by Edelman shows that roughly two-thirds of organizations are considering the hybrid work model, which matches up with the nearly three-quarters of employees who want to see some form of at-home option remain.

The hybrid workforce is likely here to stay. The question now becomes, “How can we remain productive and collaborative through the long term?”

Help your hybrid employees stay connected

For starters, recognize that not every job is ideally suited to the hybrid model. A sales-focused job may seem conducive to a remote or hybrid model, given the amount of time spent on the road. Meanwhile, a job requiring more direct daily contact with fellow employees — such as human relations roles or workers who are just starting to undergo training — may be much better suited to in-office work. It is not one-size-fits-all when trying to determine an ideal work environment, but rather “one-size-fits-one.”

For many organizations the transition to remote work impacted almost everyone. As such, meetings went from being 100% in person to 100% virtual. Sure, there may have been folks that attended remotely prior to the pandemic, but firms didn’t take into consideration their experience. Sure, they tried to make sure the speaker phone in the middle of the table was picking up everyone in the room, but if it didn’t, oh well. The focus wasn’t on ensuring an engaging experience for everyone. When we went remote, we were all remote, and so we all had the same experience, good or bad. The challenge now is to find ways to keep the two sides of the hybrid model — remote workers and in-office workers — in contact and on the same page in their day-to-day work, regardless of physical location.

With the hybrid model taking hold throughout the business community, and digital communication happening almost constantly, managing interactions effectively and efficiently may be the best way to enhance productivity.

Meetings will likely have a mix of people dialing in from home and people sitting in the conference room. For those working remotely:

  • Choose the right workspace
  • Set up a camera so you can interact with fellow employees
  • Use online tools to share and track ideas

For those who are physically at the office:

  • Make an effort to keep remote colleagues involved and engaged, as if they were in the room with you
  • Use tools such as virtual whiteboards, content cameras, breakout rooms, and online chat to reduce the “lost in translation” effect between the office and remote settings
  • Be extra mindful to include online members in the discussion, and encourage participation
  • Barring sensitive information being shared, record meetings so participants can clearly refer to the content afterward, and keep the content where it is safe but easily accessible to everyone

Pre-pandemic, in-person meetings and workplaces were the expectation in many industries and viewed as the only real way to effectively work together. Now we are somewhere in between. While the hybrid model is relatively new for some organizations and being tested, we’ve learned that individuals can still collaborate when everyone is remote.

Unlike the mad scramble that occurred when COVID-19 hit, organizations now have time to plan. Exploring the possibilities of a productive and rewarding hybrid work model may allow you to address the future of your workforce in a much more strategic and comprehensive way. Waiting too long, however, could cause an organization to struggle with retention as the talent landscape continues to shift.

How we can help

At CLA, we understand you may be facing new challenges in an environment that’s still unsettled. Our goal is to understand your business and growth objectives, then help you develop and execute a plan. Working across our organization, we offer an integrated approach to bring about positive and lasting change and help you drive success.

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