Business Tech

The power of hybrid productivity: Balancing remote and in-person work for success

What is hybrid productivity?

Hybrid work is when people work together—online and in person—from home, from the office, or from another remote location. It’s a work model that helps employees to optimize work-life balance by combining in-person and remote workdays.

Hybrid productivity is the measure of effectiveness and performance of hybrid teams. A more expansive view of productivity considers the overall well-being of team members and their capacity for collaboration and innovation.

Successful hybrid work models depend on productivity. Sometimes a quiet space that allows for extended periods of concentration is needed; at other times, it’s in-person collaboration. Organizations that provide this kind of flexibility understand the importance of productivity in the hybrid work environment.

This article identifies some challenges, offers tips and tools for enhancing productivity in a hybrid work environment, and shares best practices for success.

Tools for enhancing hybrid productivity

Adjusting to a hybrid work environment sounds easy, but it takes more than a laptop and an internet connection to ensure that employees maintain productivity. When they’re away from the office, they need access to tools and technology that keep them in contact with coworkers and connected to cloud-based applications and files. When they’re in the office, they want to pick up where they left off while they were working remotely.

Following are examples of communication, collaboration, and time management tools that contribute to hybrid productivity.

Communication tools

Video conferencing platforms and instant messaging (IM) apps help employees stay connected and informed, whether they’re in or away from the office. Video conferencing helps to enhance productivity by imitating in-person communication that sparks new ideas, inspires brainstorming, and enhances the employee experience.

In the hybrid work environment, IM replaces water cooler chats and hallway conversations, which often are the sources of information that generate new ideas and keep projects moving. IM also acts as a note-taking tool that employees can refer back to when they want to elaborate on ideas and input from coworkers.

Collaboration tools

Cloud-based document sharing facilitates the storing, transferring, and sharing of files from various devices and locations. Hybrid workers have access to the files they need, when they need them. Changes are saved automatically, audit trails are created, and files are always up to date because collaborators are working online in the same document.

Project management software automates processes—like sprints and meetings—and simplifies the management of day-to-day tasks. It keeps team members informed of their project’s status, their assigned tasks, and upcoming due dates. People aren’t wasting time looking for related documents or reports because file storage and sharing are built into the software.

Time management tools

Calendar apps make it easy for employees to block time during a workday to focus, schedule and reschedule meetings with collaborators, and share their availability with others. Hybrid workers are able to specify their work locations and let others know if they are available for in-person or online meetings.

Time-tracking software helps to identify when employees are most productive during a workday, be it first thing in the morning, later in the day, or somewhere in between. The software also spots multitasking and manual or repetitive tasks that interrupt productivity. Once detected, time management strategies can be applied to reestablish focus and stay on track.

 

Tips for improving hybrid productivity

Create a dedicated workspace

When employees work at home, it’s important for them to establish a dedicated space that enables them to do quality work. At a minimum, a desk, an ergonomic chair, and a reliable internet connection are needed.

As organizations adopt a hybrid work model, some are choosing to redesign office spaces to better accommodate hybrid workers. This includes hot desking, which is reserving workspaces that aren’t assigned to any specific person. By giving hybrid workers a flexible space rather than a dedicated personal desk that goes unused when employees are working remotely, hot desking is a viable solution for hybrid workers.

Establish a routine

The hybrid work model requires that employees are productive in or away from the office. Getting organized, carrying laptops and other work-related items back and forth, commuting to the office on certain days of the week, and hot desking can be disruptive and create barriers to hybrid productivity.

To better manage their time and optimize work-life balance, it’s important for hybrid workers to establish a routine. Whether in the office or working from home, hybrid workers should schedule regular breaks to maintain peak performance and give themselves permission to get away from the computer and rejuvenate.

Prioritize tasks

Prioritization is one of the best ways for hybrid workers to maintain control of their days. It’s important for them to focus on the work that matters most—and say no to the less important stuff. Managers should ensure that their employees understand the organization’s business goals and how their work supports those goals so that hybrid workers can prioritize their tasks accordingly.

Avoid distractions

Dedicated workspaces, established routines, and prioritized tasks help hybrid workers avoid distractions. However, meetings are one of the main distractions that impact hybrid productivity. Hybrid work statistics indicate that the average Microsoft Teams user saw a 252 percent increase in their weekly meeting time since February 2020.

To maximize their effectiveness, meetings should be intentional. Organizers should determine whether the purpose of the meeting is to disclose, discuss, or decide and invite only those who truly need to be there.

Set boundaries

Hybrid workers need to set boundaries to accomplish all that they are being asked to do, both at home and in the office environment. Blocking time in calendars to focus on key tasks and turning off notifications to prevent distractions are just two examples of how employees can set boundaries to help them focus. But leaders and managers also need to establish a system of guardrails to help employees with time management decisions, and to help everyone on the team understand what’s expected of them in their hybrid work environment.

 

Challenges to hybrid productivity and how to overcome them

Balancing work and personal life

In a hybrid work environment, boundaries between personal lives and work lives are easily blurred. Work tends to creep into the time spent with family and friends or just relaxing. When working from home, hybrid workers might start working as soon as they wake up because they don’t need to get ready and commute to the office. It’s up to them to balance their work and personal lives. Timeboxing helps to support these efforts.

The concept of timeboxing is that there are 10,080 minutes in a week and it’s each individual’s responsibility to create boxes of minutes for various activities. For example, an employee might set up a 30-minute timebox to review a document first thing in the morning.

Timeboxing makes people responsible for their own happiness by finding work-life balance, getting work done, and avoiding burnout. The practice recommends that managers support employee timeboxing and respect the boxes they set.

Building trust among team members

It’s important to build a culture of trust in a hybrid workplace, including treating employees equally regardless of their work location. Trust is a core component of healthy relationships and it’s more challenging to build trust when face-to-face time is limited. Using video conferencing for meetings helps to ensure that managers see and hear from everyone and that everyone is aligned on their projects. Managers should also ask hybrid workers to define how they would like to work together, which might include meeting-free days or regular in-person meetings in the office.

Developing effective management strategies

Managers should schedule regular one-on-one conversations with their employees to learn how they would like to work in the hybrid model and to offer them flexibility. During these conversations, managers coach employees on setting priorities, clearing roadblocks, and asking questions to help them find solutions. Managers also ensure that employees understand their roles and responsibilities as they relate to the organization’s goals.

Overcoming technological barriers

To support effective collaboration and communication in the hybrid work environment, organizations need to have the right technologies in place and train their employees how to use them. The technical support team should be available to troubleshoot and resolve issues wherever employees are located. Data security and data protection best practices should be followed, and remote workers should have a secure connection to access network resources.

 

Best practices for hybrid productivity

In a hybrid work environment, employees are spending less time interacting in person, so how do organizations create and nurture a feeling of culture, mission, and connection? How does this translate to hybrid work productivity? A culture that facilitates connection and enthusiasm helps employees feel that they matter to the organization and they aren’t just there for a paycheck. Employee engagement fuels productivity and employers need to establish best practices that cultivate that culture.

Flexibility and adaptability. Allow employees to create work-life balance by working flexible hours and adapting their work schedules to personal needs. For example, hybrid workers might start work at 10:00 AM on days that they work in the office to avoid traffic during their commute.

Communication and collaboration. Lay the groundwork for communication and collaboration with cloud-based tools that are accessible from anywhere. This connectivity helps to ensure that employees maintain regular communication and productivity when they move between the office and other work locations.

Support and resources. Connect employees throughout the organization with online spaces for company news, learning opportunities, and shared interests. Enable them to explore other aspects of the company, align themselves with the mission, and see how their work contributes to the bigger picture.

Prioritization and time management. Help employees to prioritize their projects to maintain work-life balance and boost productivity. Empower them to say no to requests that aren’t mission critical so they can better manage their time and ensure that their workloads are sustainable.

These days, employees are prioritizing work-life balance and their personal well-being over careers. Having a flexible work schedule helps them to focus their energy where it’s needed when it’s needed. As organizations embrace hybrid work, it’s important to provide a culture that emphasizes these features while giving employees a feeling of purpose and meaning.

 

For employees, using tools and technology that support working from anywhere, establishing a similar routine for in-office and remote workdays, and prioritizing tasks and meetings are excellent ways to help enhance productivity in a hybrid work environment.

 

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