For many people, the shift to working from home meant finding new ways to work. In person meetings morphed into videoconferences. Events went virtual. And remote teams found new avenues to communicate, collaborate, support each other — and get all the work done, too.
With pandemic conditions now improving in most of the world, many companies are exploring the best ways to transition workers from home back to the office. With a mix of in person, remote, and at-home workers, the hybrid model might be the future of work for companies of all shapes and sizes.
But according to analysts at Gartner, the shift to hybrid work may be even more disruptive than the widespread shift to all-remote work. Team leads will need to manage the new dynamics and logistics of a hybrid team.
Is your company ready to go all-in on the hybrid work model? Here are five questions we asked business leaders about preparing for the future — and their answers that might help your team prepare for yet another “new normal.”
Anna has written about experience design, product development, and workshop facilitation. She has been working in distributed teams for three years, and she is passionate about helping these teams to succeed.
1. What does the future of work look like for your company, after more than a year of working from home?
Nearly all leaders we spoke to are looking at staffing models with some teammates in-office and some remote, either in phases or permanently. Most agree that flexibility is the way to go, trusting in their team members to get work done regardless of location or schedule while providing an option to collaborate in person.
In October 2020, Dropbox announced their transition to “virtual-first” staffing. In a recent panel discussion with Miro, Jolean DeKort, Head of ITS Infrastructure Engineering and Operations said, “We are allowing Dropboxers to work the majority of their time at home, but still leaving time to come do collaborative work in our studios, and redesigning our office space to enable that collaborative work.”
Even before the shift to all-remote work, Deloitte Australia gave workers the option to work from home under their Flex policy. With the shift back to the office, the company will continue offering this flexibility with an even bigger focus on leveling the playing field for remote workers. Nik Wright, Senior Manager, Asset Enablement at Deloitte Australia said, “The hybrid work model means that we have to be all-inclusive. You can’t assume that everyone is going to be in the office on a given day. You have to be mindful that some will be at home and some will be in the office.”
2. What are the greatest hurdles to hybrid work success at your company?
The leaders we spoke with surfaced inclusivity as their greatest challenge under the hybrid model. So how can leaders ensure the voices of remote workers aren’t lost among those who are in person?
“We envision a hybrid workplace where collaboration happens the same way regardless of where you are. There should be no part of a meeting that people working at home don’t have access to, including the whiteboard,” said Nicholas Hatch, Enterprise Architect at Ciena.
Most of us learned first-hand that when we’re not all in the same space, we have to get creative about how to collaborate. So now leaders are focused on getting creative with the right set-up for hybrid meetings, from collaboration devices such as interactive displays to the software that connects everyone.
Thomas Donnelly, CIO at BetterCloud, discussed the importance of being customer-centric, ensuring collaborators inside and outside the office are treated equally. “One of the big challenges is making sure they all have a quality experience and you’re getting the tools in place to level the playing field.”
Apart from meetings, leaders are thinking about how to create a strong company culture beyond the walls of the office, from onboarding to team-building activities. Best practices for culture-building across remote teams in this guide to remote work still hold true for hybrid teams.
3. What gains from the all-remote era will you keep as you move to hybrid work?
Teams working remotely saw great advantages with “digital first” ways of working. Unlike notes scrawled on physical whiteboards and sticky notes, ideas shared online are discoverable and searchable, creating a more reliable source of truth. Another net-positive when your team is connected virtually: a more democratized meeting experience.
Work-from-home culture also led many teams to think more critically about scheduling meetings. As Thomas Donnelly of BetterCloud noted, “We’re really taking the deliberate approach and thinking about: why we’re holding meetings, the reasons that we have meetings, and then getting feedback on if we should change the format.”
Last summer, Atlassian announced their “team anywhere” approach, essentially remote-first, to empower their teams to decide where and when they want to work. Jenna Cline, Head of IT Strategy and Planning at Atlassian said they are asking people to “think asynchronous first,” especially when working across time zones. Using tools that can create documentation and simplify offline collaboration helps teammates contribute on their own time and avoid those dreaded back-to-back meeting days.
4. How will you support team collaboration across on-site and remote locations?
Several business leaders told us they are building a stack of cloud-based tools that work seamlessly across a range of devices and OS environments. If IT issues arise, you’ll need to be able to offer consistent support to users both in-office and off-site.
“Whatever we use for virtual-first work has to be resilient, and we have to be able to support it remotely,” said Philip Mozolak, Audiovisual Engineer at Dropbox.
Some leaders told Miro that they plan to install interactive displays that can virtualize in person whiteboards. Others are gearing up on a range of displays for presentations. Each approach aims to democratize the experience in person and online, so remote teammates can fully participate. One IT executive noted, “We can’t go back into a conference room where people are drawing on a whiteboard and remote people can’t see it.”
5. Where does Miro fit into your hybrid work strategy?
During this past year or so of remote work, Miro became an essential tool for connecting teams. As companies adopt a more virtual-first approach in the hybrid work era, tools like Miro will continue to help everyone stay engaged, no matter where or when they’re working. Laura Baird, Associate Design Director at frog said that with Miro, “now we have a tool that’s at the core of what we do and will continue to extend into the future.”
For many, Miro fits right into the plan for hybrid work. Michael O’Brien, AV systems engineer at Dropbox, told us, “When people get back to the office, Miro is going to be, if not at the center, then very much close to the center, of what the collaboration experience is going to look like.”
As your business starts reopening offices and welcoming back teams, Miro can help you ensure all teammates can innovate together and fully contribute, even if they’re not face-to-face. With Miro, never again will those great ideas shared in the conference room get lost. Together, we can empower everyone, from anywhere, to create the next big thing.
Explore how Miro’s Enterprise Plan can help your team prepare for the era of hybrid work.