Want to make the best of hybrid working in your business? Digital solutions specialist Caine Harrison shares his tips so your business can excel in the hybrid working world in this edition of Connected Thinking with Virgin Media O2 Business.
It’s no secret – hybrid working has taken root in medium businesses across the country. In fact, in our research report ‘Medium businesses: Fuelling the UK’s economic engine’, we found that just 25% of employees’ time is now spent in the office, with the rest being spread across co-working spaces, public spaces such as cafes, and their own homes.
Employee demand for hybrid working isn’t letting up. Employees increasingly expect to be able to work wherever and however they like. We found almost half (43%) of businesses say their employees are generally more productive when working in a hybrid way.
Now that many businesses have adopted hybrid working, what does good hybrid working really look like? Are you truly meeting your employees’ needs for flexible working? And how can you ensure you’re getting the most out of the investments you make towards enabling this way of working?
2023 is set to be a balancing act of business ambitions against the economic headwinds that are becoming all too familiar. As we navigate this year, ensuring employees feel empowered to work how and where they need to will be essential for those businesses keen to pursue growth.
Make hybrid working work for your people
You can’t buy a successful hybrid working strategy off the shelf. It requires a cultural shift within a business, where decision makers and employees alike open themselves up to the possibilities of a different way of working.
While it’s been a revolution for the way we work, there are still some challenges. Ensuring employees are able to connect and collaborate effectively is easier said than done. A lack of tech support and sufficient training can leave teams stumped as to what the best approach is to get the most out of hybrid work, or leave them unsure of how to get the most from their tools – which can slow them down altogether.
I’m not saying hybrid working isn’t working. Instead, I want to assess how we can make it work even better. And while there is no one-size-fits-all approach, there are certainly common threads that we can all learn from.
The first step is understanding how your employees want to work and getting onboard wholeheartedly to make the changes needed for success. Hybrid working is here to stay, which means the investments you make now will deliver value for the long term.
Find new ways to meet your customers where they are
Hybrid work isn’t just about your employees. It’s also about responding to a growing demand from customers to interact with businesses in new ways.
Where traditionally customers would be content with a helpline or email communication, there are now a myriad of ways they expect to be able to contact you. Video calls are fast becoming the norm, where a secure internet connection and good quality audio are essential for providing a good experience for customers.
But there are other ways that customers want to interact with businesses: web chat, AI-powered chat bots, automated SMS communications, and even direct messaging through apps such as WhatsApp to name a few. According to Gartner, over 50% of medium and large enterprises will make use of chatbots by 2023.
And if customers expect to speak with employees across these different channels, employees need ease of access to them. That’s why considered investment in a Unified Communications (UC) solution is so important.
UC can offer employees and customers a singular point of access to each other – where they can call, video call, present, chat and share files, all on one app. For employees, this means fewer apps to use, less logins and passwords to grapple with, and a powerful set of tools to access the right information at the right time. And it offers customers the easiest route to your business.
Finding the right solution for your business often requires support, expertise and consultancy that you can rely on. But where should you start?
Choose the right partner for the journey
The challenge for medium businesses is often a lack of resource in their IT teams. Sometimes your IT team might just be one person, or the responsibility of employees who also have a full workload delivering value to customers.
Your tech/telco partnerships can lend an invaluable hand when it comes to implementing new solutions and getting the most out of the ones you already have.
The right partner should feel like an extension of your IT team, providing specialist knowledge and talking you through the wide variety of options available to ensure you’re getting the right solution for your business.
This can help free up your team to focus on delivering value to customers, meaning that you build in efficiencies to your business along the way. With our research finding that almost half (48%) of medium businesses want more support from their IT teams to drive business ambitions, this can make a powerful difference to your bottom line.
Without that consultancy, businesses can sometimes feel cheated out of success. They’ve bought the package of solutions, they’ve spent the money – but they’re not getting the results.
You need to lean on your partner beyond the point of sale, to ensure you have the specialist training and implementation support to get the most out of your investment.
- Data capture to accurately set up user profiles and how each employee can securely access their tools.
- Training and support to give your employees the skills they need to use the tools in a productive way.
- Troubleshooting advice to help you get back on your feet if something goes wrong.
That’s when the positive change comes, and when you’ll make the most of your investment.
So start thinking beyond the signing of a contract, and look to your partners to provide the consultancy that’ll help you keep up the hybrid working momentum.
Want to get the most out of your investment in the hybrid world? Read more about our research into medium business success and get in touch with our experts today to see how we can support your hybrid working journey.
Caine Harrison, Digital Solutions Specialist, Virgin Media O2 Business