As of early June 2021, less than one-third of U.S. office workers (about 28%) are back in their physical buildings―and many who are home want to keep it that way.
A survey found 39% of U.S. adults would consider quitting if they’re not given flexibility about remote work. There’s a long list of reasons behind this desire, including lingering concerns over safety and health, looming childcare issues, and the sheer fact that many feel they have proven they can do their jobs just as well remotely.
This isn’t to say employees don’t miss face-to-face time with colleagues. In fact, another study found 67% of workers want more in-person time with co-workers. It’s no surprise then that one in five employers had already moved to the hybrid model in the spring and almost half had plans to do so by the summer.
When we think about hybrid, we often picture employees either sitting at home or commuting to the office. But there’s a wide range of hybrid options in between, including coffee shops, shared workspaces and even checking email from your hotel room while on a family vacation.
And while the focus for the past year and a half has been primarily on remote workers, we think it’s time for companies to give a little love to the office space again.
How can you make it easier for office-first people to work in a hybrid environment? The right unified communications solution makes all your hybrid workers happy, especially those who have made the physical office their home. Not sure where to start? Check out these four tips from our expert team.
1. Give Them Space
Just because an employee is back in the physical office doesn’t mean they aren’t concerned about their health and safety. In fact, many people who’ve been in the office the majority of the time since the pandemic hit have probably become quite accustomed to an empty and quiet office space.
The return of hybrid workers will be just as much of an adjustment for them as it will be for those who’ve been at home.
Social distancing should remain in effect as much as possible to ease the transition of hybrid workers back into the physical work environment. Everyone can still get the full benefit of face-to-face meetings, team collaboration and casual conversation without making office-first workers feel like their space has been invaded.
2. Give Them A Permanent Home
While it may make sense for people splitting their time between remote and in-office work to hot desk, office-first employees should have a dedicated workspace when possible.
They’ll benefit from being able to come in every day knowing everything they need to do their job is right where they left it, and they won’t have to worry about whether or not the area they’re working in has been properly sanitized.
This may seem like a small gesture, but it can go a long way in saying “thank you” to office-first workers. Hybrid workers will also know exactly where to find their office-first co-workers on the days they come in, making it easier for them to work together on projects and collaborate.
3. Make It Feel Like Everyone Is Back In The Office
It may be a while before everyone is back in the office all the time (in fact, who knows if the day will ever come). But managers can make it feel like everyone is in the same room with the right unified communications technology.
An all-in-one solution that lets colleagues communicate and collaborate across regions and time zones knocks down virtual walls.
MiCollab from Mitel, for instance, gives employees a single application for voice, video, messaging, presence, audio conferencing and collaboration. Collaborative workspaces keep everyone connected. Team members can share notes, files and status updates on projects just as easily as if everyone were together.
Outlook and calendar integration lets people know who is available and where they are at any given time. Both planned and impromptu meetings are more productive with such features as desktop sharing and document collaboration.
4. Transform The In-Office Huddle Room
Videoconferencing is a great way to keep face-to-face interactions going for the hybrid workforce, but now businesses can take it to the next level and transform the in-office huddle space with a single, unified communications solution.
Co-workers can use the multi-pane view for up to 16 attendees or the active speaker view to focus attention where it needs to be at any given moment. Colleagues can meet both in-person and virtually, share notes and store files.
The best part? The team can return to the same workspace in the next meeting for quick access to persistent chat logs, important documents and more. It’s a powerful yet simple way to keep office-first workers connected and engaged with hybrid colleagues, meeting after meeting.
While remote work will continue, it’s been centre stage for well over a year now. It’s time to put the spotlight back on in-office workers and make sure they have the tools required to be productive and happy as they workforce shifts to a hybrid model.
Unified communications technology keeps everyone connected and engaged―from home, the office and everywhere in between.