5 essential tools and services to make hybrid work a success within your organization

A person indicating a laptop screen with work on it.
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The way we work has changed in recent years, and many companies are turning to hybrid working routines to balance the benefits of working from home with an office environment. Before you make the commitment, consider these tools and services to create the best environment for your staff. 

Picking the right hardware for the task 

It goes without saying that any team will need the right hardware to do their job. For office-based workers, this will have historically involved a large and cumbersome desktop computer. With many workers now spending much of their time at home, a laptop that can be transported between home and the office makes for a more sensible option. 

Consider your employees’ working methods and buy accordingly. If they need to run multiple large applications at the same time, it’s worth investing in an option with adequate processing speeds, memory and so on. Similarly, if word processing is the most intensive task they are likely to be doing, there’s little point in spending potentially hundreds of extra pounds on something that they don’t need.

Most laptops’ screen sizes typically measure between 13 and 17 inches, which makes them the perfect transportability tool. When in the office, connecting to a larger display could provide a more comfortable experience. Check with your workers whether they want an additional display at home, too. In these instances, a separate keyboard and mouse or trackpad could be beneficial.

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Maintaining open communication 

Turning to your neighbor in the office to ask a quick question is the easiest way of checking something sometimes, but it doesn’t work the same when some people are home working. Some things can be too simple for a lengthy email; an instant messaging platform may be the solution.

A good virtual landscape will usually consist of a variety of communication platforms, but be sure to clearly set your expectations for communication. 

It’s best to pick multifunction applications to reduce the clutter, so whether you’re a fan of Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Slack or any of the other countless options, try to eliminate the need for additional software.

The best software will include some level of project management, too. Most tasks require input from multiple team members, so being able to share access to your progress can prove vital when you are potentially hundreds of miles away.

The final piece of software worth installing combats the increase in cyber attack threats for those working away from the office. Consider installing a VPN which can help mask a user’s location and protect your company’s valuable information.

Office capacity and desk booking software, meeting room booking 

While much consideration should be put into your staff’s home working setup, you should not neglect their office space, especially if you plan to reduce its footprint or limit the number of days that employees can spend in it.

Careful management of shared spaces can help manage the flow of people, allowing you to monitor attendance and comply with social distancing measures while they are in place.

A new office layout might be in order, but what’s best for everybody’s teams can be different. Some of the best setups include more collaborative workspaces and desk groups, or strategically placed workstations that allow for social distancing and free movement throughout the office.

Monitoring this can be tricky, but the best office management programs should allow users to book their workspace in advance, whether that’s a desk or a meeting room. This can prevent confusion that leads to overcrowding in certain areas, helping to eliminate hotspots and monitor both traffic and attendance. A win for your employees and a win for you, so think about forking out for software that does exactly what you want.

Be prepared for video communication 

If you’re due to implement hybrid working on a wide scale, you’ll need to be prepared for a lot of video conference calls. Communication is key in any workspace, and a videoconference proves best for picking up on social and visual cues that a phone call would never allow.

For home workers, this may mean investing in an external webcam. Sure, there may be a webcam built into the laptop you provided, but these are often substandard with most laptops being built to a budget and trying to satisfy every possible type of customer.

Some of the benefits include higher resolutions and frame rates, a wider field of view, better autofocus and low light sensitivity and a glass lens - all great qualities for presenting the best picture of its user. A good webcam will also feature a much improved microphone, while software tweaks like background noise cancellation are usually reserved for more high-end models.

Connecting a team in the office with others may require something other than a webcam; in this instance, a professional video bar will be best. These have the widest field of view to capture all attendees, sometimes featuring multiple lenses to alternate between wide angle and telephoto. Because a video bar is typically mounted on a wall next to a display, it will usually come with built-in speakers and one or more powerful microphones.

Creating a good environment 

It’s important to set aside some of your budget to cater for workers’ home office setups. One person may need a desk, another may need a chair, but never take a one-size-fits-all approach to this. Consider shortlisting a number of desk styles and sizes to fit each individual’s role, as well as the availability of space to accommodate an entire desk in their own home. 

On a similar note, staff working from home may incur additional costs to keep the house heated all day, or they may need to upgrade their broadband package. Having a dedicated fund for this can prevent workers from spiraling into financial problems.

A company that has thought of everything shows great initiative and is more likely to retain workers.

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Craig Hale

With several years’ experience freelancing in tech and automotive circles, Craig’s specific interests lie in technology that is designed to better our lives, including AI and ML, productivity aids, and smart fitness. He is also passionate about cars and the decarbonisation of personal transportation. As an avid bargain-hunter, you can be sure that any deal Craig finds is top value!