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Staying connected in a hybrid world

It all comes down to communication.

Staying connected in a hybrid world
[Kateryna / Adobe Stock]

The workplace revolution has been happening slowly for a decade or so, with more and more people choosing to work outside a traditional office. Of course, COVID-19 hugely accelerated that trend, and today, we have a new and ever-changing work landscape. Hybrid work is here, and it brings the potential for flexibility and the all-important work-life balance.

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Love it or hate it, hybrid work is likely here to stay. So, how can companies stay connected when people spend some or most of their time in physically separate locations?

It’s all about communication. The critical challenge facing successful hybrid working is in ensuring that all employees have the equipment needed to work together communicating, collaborating, and innovating, despite being in a variety of locations. And in order to do all of this, you have to work in conjunction with technology.

People will always be your biggest asset, regardless of what technological advances are embraced. Technology and change are not to be feared. We have seen how we can adapt when we must. We have risen to the challenge, adopting new technologies and enhancing efficiency and user experience.

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The bottom line is that technology can help people become even better at what they do, giving your organization a business advantage and the agility required to succeed in the long-term. The future will only bring more innovations to complement incredible people, so the solution is to be open to it and equip your team with the necessary skills to adapt and adopt new tools.

It is practically about using technology to facilitate this new way of working and embracing it so it works for everyone, whenever and wherever they are working. Applications hosted in the cloud, for example, remove the need for physical tools like phone systems and allow access anywhere. These unified communications tools will only evolve for the better, going beyond simple videoconferencing and combining meetings, chats, processes, and a collaborative space. With new functions aimed specifically at hybrid working being added all the time, the tools we know and love and use today will be meaningfully enhanced.

SAFE AND SOUND

With people working in separate physical locations, maintaining data and network integrity becomes more of a challenge. Keeping track of the latest cybersecurity threats is a full-time job, but adding in the challenge of different working locations takes it to a whole new level.

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It is imperative that security protocols are instilled in every process. Still, it is easy for employees to make mistakes because they don’t understand the potential repercussions. For example, they may not set up two-factor authentication to access the company’s virtual private network (VPN).

COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE

We have covered the practical elements to consider when adopting the hybrid work model, but at the start of something new, there is always a hint of fear of the unknown. This is where clear, open, and honest communication come in—not just from leaders, but from everyone involved.

To successfully implement a new way of working, it is essential that policies and procedures are clear, all elements are transparent, and everyone knows their roles and responsibilities. If new skills are required, it is your responsibility to train, develop, and equip your people with all the tools they’ll need to adapt and excel.

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There is no such thing as over-communication. By that, I mean imparting and collecting information and actively listening to concerns and reacting to them. If you do not take people on the journey with you, they will not understand where they fit in to the future and they will not be engaged or empowered.

LOOK AFTER YOUR PEOPLE

Wherever your people are based, it is your responsibility to provide them with all they require to be the best they can be. Listen to them and nurture them. Employees who feel like they have a stake in your company have a real incentive to contribute to its success. That trust, drive, and energy is infectious. This mindset doesn’t come from working in close physical proximity. It comes from shared purpose and vision—”how we do things ’round here.” Whatever style of working you adopt—remote, hybrid, or whatever the next big thing may be—a positive culture provides a foundation of strong communication and collaboration.

Communication is and always will be critical for business success, not just internally but externally as well. The technological advances in how we connect have been astounding in the past year, but they are just the start of what the future holds.

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Eric Schurke, CEO North America, Moneypenny. Moneypenny handles outsourced phone calls, live chat and digital comms.

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