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It is hard to doubt that there have been significant changes to the ways that employees want to work. This has been primarily driven by the realisation that a centralised office isn’t needed for the vast majority of work to take place. This has seen hybrid working become a commonplace offering for companies who are looking to hire the best talent available. Offering some form of remote work has not only proved to be a differentiator in retaining employees, but it also provides a better work/life balance and broadens the market when looking for your next hire.
While hybrid working is seemingly the norm for the foreseeable future, for many firms there are still some that have not formalised their hybrid work programme. Below are some crucial considerations when developing your programme.
Whether your team are working in the office or at home, your team’s ability to work effectively must be unimpeded. This means that the applications and data your team need should be accessible to all users regardless of location, which by default, means those files must be in a standardised digital format and housed within appropriate applications. This should be centrally operated and contained by a robust remote access solution.
In addition to streamlining the systems that your team access, there will inevitably be tech problems that will need to be overcome. When these occur, having the ability to resolve these quickly is vital to the productivity of your team and generally lends itself to your teams adopting laptops with remote access for your tech teams as their primary workstations moving forward.
While having the physical technology and software for your team to do their role is important, equally as important and often overlooked is securing the information they access, especially for accounting teams that are dealing with confidential material. A simple way of achieving this is to use VPNs, multi-factor authentication, modern password requirements for protecting data and automatic antivirus/firmware updates. Firms should also use the cloud for all file storage/processing and encourage clients to transfer files electronically.
One of the biggest criticisms of remote working was that it limited collaboration between team members, however, many of these worries can be resolved with the right processes in place. This can be done through utilising digital workflow tools to track project statuses and assign and monitor work, as well as collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom that promote effective availability and communication in a virtual environment. Setting ground rules on availability (i.e., being available from 10 am to 3 pm on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday) and expected response time to email and phone enquiries (i.e., within 24 hours) is recommended. It is also important to respect availability when individuals are not to be interrupted.
The biggest change coming from hybrid working is that team leaders need to learn how to manage remote personnel as well as personnel physically in the office. Often at the same time. Of course, managing your hybrid team goes beyond the usual one-to-one meetings with team members and in many cases, the use of new applications and procedures is still evolving. The level of support your remote workers will need will depend on the individual (as it would in the office), however, broad guidelines can be put into place for employee’s which can be reviewed based on individual needs. Just as they would be in your physical office.
Within these broad guidelines, you should include parameters as to what equipment will be supported (firm owned vs. personally owned). Ongoing training for optimising the use of the firm’s workflow, communication, security, and collaboration tools (Teams/Zoom) cannot be over-emphasised. This is in addition to the usual training schedules that you have in place, which many companies will identify as specific days when employees must physically attend the office to benefit from collaborating and get the most from the training.
With the realisation that the hybrid work environment is now an integral part of almost every firm’s production DNA and that many firms have not taken the time to formalise their programs, now is a good time to develop a plan for the future of your company.
Recruiting the right talent for your company can be hard work, if you would like any more advice on this topic or if you’re looking for your next role, please get in touch with our specialist team today on 020 7096 8200 or email us at [email protected]
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