Hybrid Working: Choosing the Right Software for Your Team
Changes were gradually happening in the workplace in the early 2020s. Remote access to systems was increasing, due in the main to e-commerce and to an extent social media and chatbots as a communications channel in customer support.
This all dramatically changed towards the end of the second decade. The pandemic forced lockdowns, preventing staff from coming to the office. Many businesses were forced to migrate to e-commerce because their bricks and mortar outlets closed. The pace of change increased exponentially.
Because they couldn’t leave, staff began working from home. Later when allowed to travel, the freedom of working from anywhere they could establish remote communications with the office systems.
After the pandemic, businesses are faced with the conundrum of how to deal with staff that are resisting being called back into the office, preferring the flexibility of working from home, coupled with others who want to return full-time to the office.
What is Hybrid Working?
Very simply put, hybrid working is the combination of remote and office-based work. The split between working from home and working in the office can vary depending on the emphasis put on each element.
The Changes Needed in Business to Support Hybrid Working
One particular change is that of technology, particularly communications and collaborative software to support dispersed teams working remotely. Tools like video conferencing software, instant messaging platforms, and project management systems to facilitate seamless collaboration between remote workers and in-office employees are now essential. Communication channels and protocols need to be established to ensure effective information flow.
That implies new hardware, software, and ways of working.
How to Choose Hybrid Working Tools
To support effective collaboration and communication within hybrid teams, choosing the right software tools is essential. Here are some considerations for selecting software for your hybrid team:
- Communication and Messaging: Look for software that facilitates real-time communication and messaging. Platforms like Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Google Chat allow team members to chat, share files, collaborate on documents, and organise discussions into channels.
- Video Conferencing: Video conferencing tools are crucial for virtual meetings and face-to-face interactions. Platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Google Meet provide features like screen sharing, recording, and virtual backgrounds.
- Project Management and Collaboration: Choose a project management tool to track tasks, deadlines, and project progress. Software like Trello, Asana, or Monday.com allows you to create and assign tasks, set deadlines, and collaborate on shared projects.
- Document Collaboration: Software that enables real-time document collaboration is vital for hybrid teams. Tools like Google Workspace (formerly G Suite), Microsoft Office 365, or Dropbox Paper allow simultaneous editing, version control, and commenting on documents.
- File Sharing and Storage: Select a reliable file-sharing and storage solution that allows team members to access and share files securely. Platforms like Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, or Dropbox offer cloud storage, file synchronisation, and sharing options.
- Task and Time Management: Consider tools that help manage tasks, deadlines, and time tracking. Platforms like Todoist, Toggl, or RescueTime provide features such as task lists, reminders, and time tracking to boost productivity and ensure efficient time management.
- Security and Data Privacy: Prioritise software that prioritises security and data privacy. Look for encryption, secure user authentication, and compliance with relevant data protection regulations (e.g., GDPR).
- Integration and Compatibility: Assess how the software integrates with your existing tools and systems. Ensure compatibility with other software and services your team uses regularly, such as email clients, calendar applications, or customer relationship management (CRM) tools. Seamless integration can streamline workflows and enhance productivity.
- User Experience and Training: Evaluate the user experience of the software and the learning curve involved. Intuitive interfaces, user-friendly navigation, and available training resources can expedite adoption and reduce the need for extensive training.
- Scalability and Pricing: Consider the scalability of the software to accommodate future growth and changes in your team size. Evaluate pricing plans, licensing models, and the total cost of ownership (including any additional features or add-ons).
Before making a final decision, involve your team members in the software selection process. Consider their needs and preferences, and even conduct trials or demos to assess usability and compatibility with their workflows.