Harnessing the Power of Hybrid Work For Your Business

With companies including Microsoft and Google announcing their plans to return to the office, some companies are rapidly putting an end to remote work. As organizations begin to start returning to the office, business owners face a decision about continuing to work remotely, returning to the office full time, or implementing a mixed business model.

However, the perfect recipe for your business might consist of implementing aspects of each of these three forms. However, it is critical to create an effective workplace model that promotes personal and virtual collaboration, provides better quality of life for employees, and encourages business growth.

In the past year, companies have had to adapt more than ever. From the rapid transition to remote work to implementing new technologies, companies have had to react quickly to not only thrive, but to survive. At the same time, organizations learned the importance of communication and how technology can enable work from anywhere.

SMB’s recent study shows that small businesses are starting to think more strategically about the workplace with 59% expanding work-from-home programs, 47% investing in better technology to support remote workers, and 51% developing a long-term strategy for more flexible work patterns. The office idea has changed radically, and the success of remote work points to a hybrid future.

With a large number of employees not only adapting, but also beginning to prefer flexible work models, companies face new challenges returning to the office. Telework has eliminated long commutes, has led to mass migrations from expensive cities, and with more and more companies anchoring flexibility, many are unwilling to return to the office.

From a sustainability standpoint, re-igniting transportation means more pollution from vehicles, more imports to major cities, and more carbon footprints. Additionally, on the hiring side, returning to the office limits companies’ ability to recruit talent from anywhere while eliminating job opportunities for those in more rural locations. Companies should consider these challenges when planning their return to the office.

What does hybrid work look like to us

With these challenges in mind, Zoho decided not to start a full return to the office, but instead to implement a hybrid approach that focuses on giving our employees complete freedom to decide where and how to work, while also providing sustainable actions and the social good of local communities.

Through a hybrid approach, we have begun to open zonal offices in smaller cities near larger centers globally in order to broaden our search for talent, allow employees to stay in their smaller cities, and provide opportunities for those in smaller communities. We know talent is universal, but opportunity is not. With this in mind, our philosophy is rooted in providing opportunities that allow employees to live in their hometowns, while giving them jobs that would normally be found in cities.

At the same time, our workplace model emphasizes environmental sustainability and a return to nature. For many, remote work allowed people to spend more time outdoors and work in unique locations, due to global connectivity. We want to continue these actions by providing a more open space that allows for cooperation and communication in an external environment.

In Austin, Texas we got rid of our plans to build a corporate headquarters and instead, we started a farm on the property where employees can grow their own vegetables and fruits to share with friends and family. We surveyed our employees to see if they have an interest in farming and about 50% of the company has shown an interest. In a year and a half, we now produce more than 200 types of healthy organic fruits and vegetables that our employees grow for their enjoyment.

The farm allowed our employees to reconnect with nature, but it also added in personal collaboration to a degree that was not possible while working remotely. A hybrid approach gives companies the ability to tailor a workplace customized to their unique needs, while adding to their business strategy for the future.

The key to a successful hybrid workplace is technology

Global connectivity has been critical to enabling telecommuting and blended work, and it will continue to define the dynamic workplace. Technology has given us the ability to do work efficiently while collaborating effectively, all without being in a traditional work environment. Findings by SME groups show that 41% of companies have made significant changes to their technology strategy in the wake of COVID-19.

After putting in place technological changes in the wake of the pandemic, this facilitated an easier transition to implementing a hybrid corporate model. Cloud-based technology has enabled employees to work from anywhere and still feel connected through online meetings, chatting tools, and other collaboration tools. Additionally, the use of integrated software helped companies automate tasks that were previously done in person.

Most companies have adopted the technology in some form over the past year, and it is important for companies to think about how they can harness the technology, regardless of the workplace model they choose.

At the same time, remote work, and even hybrid work, has led to a slight increase in individual productivity, but the collaboration has undoubtedly been a success. Companies should take this into account when developing their hybrid / remote plans, and remember that finding the right solution will take time.

Think of this transition analogously to the transition from the primary window to the network of networks, which is the Internet. This is where the centralized system goes to the distributed systems. It would be similar on a human level. Firms move from collaborating in one head office (in a mainframe model) to a network of offices collaborating together (distributed model) using our hybrid approach. It is important to listen to employee needs, use the tools that evolve with these changing models, and figure out how best to connect your employees.

Benefits of a hybrid workplace model

The mixed business model blends the best of both worlds by giving employees freedom of flexibility, while also catering to personal collaboration and teamwork.

  • For small businesses, one of the biggest advantages of the hybrid approach is cost savings. By eliminating the large corporate office, companies can save money by opening smaller offices in more cost-effective areas or moving further away.
  • By opening an office in the areas where your employees live, hybrid work enhances employee satisfaction. Employees now enjoy a better quality of life by living in more affordable areas, eliminating time-consuming commutes and promoting flexible working hours to suit their lifestyle.
  • Leveraging your work for the social and environmental good. A hybrid workplace provides the freedom to create new initiatives. Whether it’s building an office out of sustainable materials, making time for your team to connect with nature, or helping local communities; All of this will empower those around you, while also improving your business.
  • You are no longer limited by talent based on location. Having an office, remote work, or a combination of the two allows you to hire from anywhere so you can find the best talent for your organization.

The epidemic has revealed that thanks to the power of technology, work can be done from almost anywhere. So, whether your company wants a full back to the office, a full remote work, or a mix that’s totally unique to you, take an inventory of how your business will grow in an ever-changing environment and economy, and see how this growth will directly affect the quality of life of your future employees and employees.

By considering sustainability, local communities, and employee satisfaction while planning for an unpredictable future, companies can create a future that includes a flexible workplace that mixes to fit whatever your needs, be it an organic farm, small offices, and beyond.

More at :, Zoho Corporation

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