It’s no surprise that hybrid work has risen in popularity. In a recent survey, we found that 77% of companies are hybrid. But just because something is popular doesn’t mean it’s easy. Successful hybrid work requires strategy, planning, and lots of tools.
Workplace tools can make or break your employees’ experience of hybrid work. For example, a complicated hot desking tool can make it frustrating to come into the office. But a great one can make it exciting for your employees to select their desk and sit next to teammates.
As a workplace manager, you should have a good understanding of which tools will help you, your employees, and your organization successfully make hybrid work. Tools are essential to keep your workplace running, empower employees to collaborate on-site, and create a great workplace experience for your distributed workforce.
Let’s walk through five types of tools you’ll want to invest in for successful hybrid work—and how to successfully roll them out to your team.
1. Hybrid scheduling
Employees live and breathe by their calendars. It’s how they schedule team meetings, one-on-one’s, time-off, and now, days in the workplace. In a recent survey, we found that one reason employees are hesitant to come into the office is because they don’t know who else will be there. Google Calendar, alerts via email, or walking up to your manager and telling them which days you’re coming in aren’t really sustainable solutions in today’s world.
This is where a hybrid scheduling tool can come in handy. A scheduling tool will allow your employees to plan days to come on-site from an app on their phones. They can share their calendar with teammates and coordinate days in the workplace together.
This addresses the worry that someone would be alone in the workplace and helps employees plan their week better. It also allows managers to plan for team meetings, happy hours, or other on-site activities. Having a full calendar view of who will be on-site each day of the week is a superpower for hybrid teams.
A scheduling tool is helpful for workplace managers as well. You’ll be able to know exactly how many people and which people are coming in for the day and plan accordingly.
2. Desk & meeting booking
Once an employee has booked their days on-site, their next consideration is where they’re actually going to be sitting and working. A desk booking solution allows employees to quickly view available desks and reserve a workstation for the days they’re coming in. They’ll be able to select a desk based on its amenities, its proximity to other teammates, or its location in the office.
In addition to desks, employees spend a lot of time working and collaborating in meeting spaces. So you’ll want a seamless meeting room booking tool as well. Room scheduling software will allow employees to book a room either in advance or on-the-fly.
Both space management tools allow your employees to plan out their hybrid week better, knowing they have booked and reserved their own space to work.
They also help you plan too. With analytics on how employees are using your desks and meeting rooms, you’ll be more able to set your workplace up for success. For example, if you see that your employees aren’t using 30% of your desks, you can remove a few desks and instead use that space for a shared workstation or an open meeting space.
3. Digital communication
When the pandemic first started and businesses went remote, communication played a huge role in keeping businesses afloat. That’s because you no longer were able to walk two feet and ask your coworker about a project. You couldn’t get career development advice from your manager while on a coffee run. Now, in a hybrid workforce, communication is equally, if not more important.
Digital communication tools like Slack, Microsoft Team, and Gmail help your in-office and remote employees easily talk with each other. This way, no matter where your employees are working, they can share quick project updates, ask for help from a manager, or share an exciting project win.
Plus, as a workplace manager, you rely on these communication tools to send company-wide, workplace-specific news to help you plan for the week ahead. For example, if your workplace is undergoing some maintenance during the workday, that would be something you alert your employees of via Slack or email.
Having a great digital communication system will help you alert your employees of essential information around the workplace, tools, and the business.
4. Virtual meeting tools
With employees spread out across the workplace, their homes, coffee shops, Airbnbs and more, meetings are what connect us. A good virtual meeting tool is essential for getting together as a team, having one-on-one’s with stakeholders, and moving projects and business forward. According to our recent survey, nearly half (49%) of employees in the workplace spend more time than they did pre-pandemic in virtual meetings with colleagues not on-site.
That’s why having high-quality virtual meeting software and equipment is key in your workplace. A few options to consider are Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or WebEx. No matter which tool you choose, ensure that it’s easy for your employees to use and helps them communicate effectively wherever they are.
5. Virtual collaboration
With more folks in the workplace, there’s more opportunity for collaboration. But with hybrid teams, it can be difficult to include both in-person and remote employees at the same time. There might be a whiteboard in the physical meeting room, but it doesn’t allow remote participants to fully contribute. And where do you store those ideas that are temporarily written on post-its and whiteboards?
Consider investing in virtual collaboration tools, such as LucidChart or WebWhiteboard. Zoom even has a new built-in feature with a whiteboard tool. Plus, Google Docs allows all participants to edit in real-time. You want to ensure that your virtual collaboration tools help people collaborate in a seamless way—wherever they are.
How to roll out new technology to your employees
Once you’ve established which hybrid work tools you want to invest in, you’ll have to actually get your employees using them. Most may be familiar with tools like Google Calendar and Zoom, but some may have never needed to reserve a desk before. How you roll out new technology can make or break whether those tools actually stick and add value. If you don’t properly train employees on how to use new technology and answer their questions, then that can lead to wasted time, money, and effort.
Step 1. Create a roll-out plan
Instead of just bringing on a new tool and then letting your employees figure it out themselves, map out a multi-step roll out plan and attach realistic dates to each step. Here’s how you might do this:
- Once you’ve acquired and installed a new software, schedule a few trainings. You’ll want these to be spread out throughout the week, with different times available for folks in different time zones.
- A few days later, schedule a Q&A session. These sessions open up space for new hires or confused employees to comfortably ask questions. You want to cultivate an environment of empathy for employees, because learning new tools can be tricky.
- After two weeks, get feedback on the new tool and see if there are any suggestions around the roll-out process. Your employees can provide you with valuable tips on how to roll out a new tool in the future.
If you replicate a similar process for any new tool you introduce, your employees will know what to expect and feel more comfortable with the process.
Step 2. Invest in training
Make sure you train your employees on how to use the technology as soon as they start with your organization or whenever you bring in a new tool or feature. While onboarding new hires, give them a tour of the workplace and all of the various tools they’ll need to interact with (both in-office and remotely).
Step 3. Overcommunicate
The key to getting new technology to stick is overcommunication. Let’s say it again. The key to getting new technology to stick is overcommunication.
It’s important to use multiple channels too. In addition to trainings, you should send out a recording for folks to watch on-demand and send detailed instructions by email and your digital communication tool. Your employees will need reminders, refreshers, tips, and tricks on how to use the tools to serve them best.
Pro tip: Make sure you host sessions regularly such as once a month on workplace tools to help new employees (or just employees who need a refresher) better understand the tools at their disposal. Many times people find it easier to attend a group Q&A session to ask a question than admit they don’t know how to use a tool.
Step 4. Verify if the tech is working
Remember, your employees are the ones using the tools everyday. They’re interacting with them on their way to work, at home before bed, and while navigating the office. So their opinion on the tools should hold weight. Regularly surveying your employees to get a pulse check of what’s working and what’s not will provide you with invaluable insights of the employee’s experience and how to improve it.
After you roll out a new piece of technology, or even a new feature of an existing one, survey your team to get their feedback. You should also send out a survey each quarter to check in on what common issues people have experienced, what their wishlist would be, and what tools add value to their workday. Make sure you ask about impact and benefits. For example, “how does our hybrid scheduling tool impact your collaboration?” These questions will inform whether your hybrid work strategy is positively affecting your organization.
With the easy-to-use, efficient, and intuitive workplace tools, your team will feel prepared for their days in the office and supported by their organization. But remember it takes more than just tools to make hybrid work. It takes policies, leaders, and thorough planning to run a successful hybrid workplace.
Looking for more planning tips for hybrid work?
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