Optimizing organizational downtime and empowering employees in hybrid workspaces

A long-term vision is needed to build a robust hybrid workplace strategy for the future

Ashish, who completed B. Tech in Computer Science during the pandemic, got a dream offer from a Bangalore-based startup. Thanks to efficient collaboration tools, he was on-boarded following a series of interviews and interactions with the HR and top management. As some of his team members are located across the U.S. and India, he opted for a flexible work schedule to ensure he attends pre-scheduled weekly meetings and weekend reviews. With things getting back to normal, the organization asked employees to decide which work model they preferred – on-site or remote, and they unanimously opted for hybrid work.
The hybrid model offers the best of both worlds  
Increasingly, employees are choosing the flexibility of working on-site and remotely for parts of the week. The hybrid model is finding favor with a lot of organizations and employees. For digital organizations, the model delivers multiple benefits. Firstly, employees receive the flexibility to work across different schedules, as seen in Ashish’s case, wherein he is required to collaborate with team members in varying time zones. As many IT organizations also have clients abroad, it becomes feasible for them to allocate employees in different shifts and allow them to work from the convenience of their homes. Office visits are reduced to half or one-third of the prior commitment, saving a considerable amount of employees’ time and resources.
A flexible approach creates opportunities to optimize investments and implement innovative ideas across the workspace environment on the business front. For example, the savings in infrastructure, logistics, and utilities realized through remote working can be directed to employee welfare activities like health insurance and holiday programs which will motivate the employees to do better and remain loyal. It will also help reduce attrition and enable cost efficiency across the entire value chain.
Meeting the demands of both models
Employees working from home will also have to fulfill their roles at home; this may lead to conflicts and directly impact productivity. In such an ecosystem, businesses must adopt strategies to optimize employees’ time and manage organizational downtime. Collaboration tools can help organizations in keeping employees engaged and satisfied at work. 
Modern collaboration suites open up infinite possibilities for a hybrid model. Meeting, messaging, polls, whiteboards, virtual events, and social networking – all of these can add value to the workspace. With automated, AI-driven features, employers can also get insights into the moods and motivation levels of the employees during meetings and other routine engagements. By understanding employees’ engagement patterns and identifying the pain points at various levels, organizations can devise strategies to improve their well-being and motivate them further. Collaboration tools with multiple language support, intelligent features to combat video fatigue, and advanced background noise elimination technology are among the few that can enhance the overall experience.
Creating and sustaining the long-term vision
Now, with hybrid workspaces becoming a crucial part of the digital culture, organizations need to create and sustain a long-term vision to make it a decade-long reality. With technology laying the foundation of this strategy, organizations need to be prudent in their investments. Adopting the right technology with sufficient room for scalability and flexibility is of paramount importance. Security and data privacy are essential aspects to consider while sharing the organization’s IT assets across the entire employee network, not just domestic but international. Thus, there is a need to build a robust technology platform and customize it with the right tools to facilitate improved collaboration and security. Depending on the nature of work, organizations may have to add custom tools to optimize employees’ time and capabilities. Some examples are integrating a call center software suite for homebound employees and implementing analytics software for marketing/insurance categories.
It is also essential to equip employees with shared facilities, as provided in brick-and-mortar scenarios. Most of the businesses have started allocating special funds to meet these demands. While giving employees monetary incentives for Internet access, PCs, software, and educational apps, the organization should also ensure that employees effectively utilize the funds. Managing and monitoring all resources, including the software and physical assets, is vital to ensure the effective functioning of the hybrid workspace.
- The author is the Managing Director at Barco India


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