By Nicole Olsen
While many of us were anticipating a return to the traditional workplace in 2021, the Delta variant has thrown us another loop and caused companies to re-evaluate their remote working plans.
Since the start of the pandemic, the workplace has seen a lot of unpredictability—are we allowed in the office? If so, do we all come in at once? Do we come every day or just a couple of times a week?
With the uncertainty of when we can expect a full-time return to the in-person workplace, HR professionals and executives are faced with the responsibility of implementing a safe and productive work environment. For many organizations, this means supporting a hybrid workplace, which combines remote work with in-office work.
The hybrid workplace isn’t without its challenges. Apart from the obvious fact that a hybrid workplace isn’t an option for some sectors, a hybrid environment does have a few shortcomings. For example, there is growing concern that in-office employees will be viewed as providing greater output. Likewise, remote employees are concerned they may be passed up for opportunities because they are less visible than in-office colleagues. And with two different employee experiences to manage, there is an increased risk that one group may feel excluded in critical conversations.
But for those businesses that are able and willing to adopt the hybrid model, they will find themselves part of an evolutionary shift in the workplace; one that combines autonomy with structure and sociability.
The following scenarios highlight not only the importance of a solid hybrid plan but also the significance of having technology conducive to collaboration and productivity. From the early days of the pandemic till now, video has emerged as an essential tool for managing remote and hybrid workforces.
Here’s how organizations around the world are leveraging video to manage their hybrid workplaces:
Maintaining business continuity
In the early days of the pandemic, businesses around the world relied on video for business continuity. As we continue to shift to a hybrid environment, video remains at the center of workplace communication tools, allowing meetings and collaboration to continue —regardless of where employees are.
Ensuring globalized workforces are engaged
An engaged workforce also reduces employee retention costs and drives more revenue. Video ensures engagement by connecting faces to voices, which helps employees feel connected to their peers, rather than just a cog in the machine. It also ensures employees feel connected to their organization’s culture.
Fostering learning and development
If you’d prefer getting instructions from a YouTube video over reading text, you’re not alone. Our brains are hardwired to retain video information more than other forms of communication. This makes video the ideal medium for learning and development in the workplace.
With fewer employees working in an office, large-scale meetings, like employee all-hands or town halls, can be conducted via video technology. This reduces traditional large-scale meeting costs such as travel, costly meeting venues, and catering. TechSmith’s The Value of Visuals study showed that employee communications using visuals like screencasts and short videos could save companies $1700 per worker each year. The theory is that viewers can absorb the information from video at a quicker pace, therefore saving time and money.
Instant messaging apps like Slack and Microsoft Teams are fantastic for sharing quick tidbits of information, but they can result in misunderstandings. Consider even the confusion that can erupt from a text message. The messages we read are not always received as the author intended. When those same messages are shared through video, visual cues – such as facial expressions or tone of voice – provide a richer, and more accurate, information set.
Helping remote workers feel connected
As mentioned, one of the risks of hybrid work is the potential that in-office workers will be viewed as more productive, and that remote workers will be at a disadvantage. Video helps solve this by bridging the gap between in-office and remote workers. Organizations can hold in-office meetings, but ensure they are conducted via video, thereby leveling the playing field for all attendees.
HR, leadership, and communication professionals play an especially critical role in keeping people informed, engaged and productive, whether they’re working from home or on the front lines.
While the concept of hybrid may seem like a win-win situation, its success won’t happen automatically. Organizations need clear objectives and the right technology to support them.
The success of a hybrid workplace won’t be defined by a physical office, but rather how
aligned they feel with their work, their colleagues, and the values of their organization.