When the pandemic disrupted our lives, the only solution seemed to be to work from home. Slowly, that’s evolved into hybrid working. But what does hybrid working mean for small businesses? Importantly, how can small businesses and startups make the most of this new normal?
A hybrid working model is a combination of remote, semi-remote and on-site work. Different businesses may have different rules for hybrid working. Some may allow employees to work remotely for certain days of the week and come to the office on other days.
Certain offices may allow some employees to work remotely and expect others to be in the office. Hybrid working has now been adopted by most industries, although it’s the information technology, media and service sectors that have seen the widest adoption.
After instituting policies to help employees be productive when working from home, small businesses now have to adapt to this new norm.
Hybrid working frees employees from the rigidity of the traditional workplace. This is important since employees now know the benefits of working from home. According to a report, less than 10 per cent of workers would be willing to go back to the office permanently.
With hybrid working, employees have the flexibility to work from wherever they might feel more comfortable. When working from home or in a semi-remote location, employees can avoid travel and focus on work. This will improve their productivity.
Working from home will also improve an employee’s work-life balance since the time they save on travel and meetings can be spent with their loved ones.
Hybrid working for small businesses comes with a specific set of principles, challenges and protocols. While big businesses would have the necessary infrastructure and practices like Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), small businesses will have to roll out certain practices to ensure the success of hybrid working.
From the outset, hybrid working needs to be instituted per the company culture. An office isn’t just a physical construct. It’s also a collection of direct professional and personal interactions that together make the culture of a place. Hybrid working in small businesses will have to take this into account when starting the practice.
Secondly, internal processes and team structures will have to adapt to hybrid working. Business owners should ensure that they have the right infrastructure, including dedicated lines for work with remote capabilities that employees can easily access.
An office has a set schedule, whereas remote work can give employees the chance to set their own timings. The first thing in hybrid working for small businesses is to set the same schedule for everyone. But ensure that employees have the leeway to work when they feel they would be most productive.
Synchronous communication is everyone communicating in real-time with immediate responses. This model has to be changed for hybrid working. Employees should have the flexibility to focus on deep work and communicate when they have the time.
Your office may not need dedicated seats for employees if they come in only on certain days. This means businesses should encourage ‘hot desks’ or the practice of letting employees choose their seats for the day.
If hybrid working for small businesses has to be successful, you need to take your employees into confidence. Don’t institute a blanket approach. Some may prefer to work in the office full-time and some might be comfortable working remotely.
To begin with, start focusing on outcomes rather than processes. The focus should be on the number of things achieved and not the hours spent on a task.
Secondly, you should set healthy boundaries. Just because employees are always available doesn’t mean their routines have to be set for the whole day. Cut down on needless meetings and assessments and let employees develop a healthy work-life balance.
Finally, be empathetic towards your employees and yourself. Hybrid working is a new system and there are bound to be problems. With every challenge, you and your team will learn something new.
To make hybrid work successful, you need the right technology. Chalkboard is a virtual number app specifically developed for small and local businesses in the age of remote work. It gives you a second line for work with all the security and business-friendly tools your employees need. This is how you get BYOD right.
Chalkboard comes with enhanced business features such as advanced chat and review aggregation. Importantly, you can easily route calls to select numbers no matter where they are, which makes Chalkboard the right tool for remote work.
Download Chalkboard today and start a 14-day free trial. This is what you need to make hybrid work successful.
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