Remember the first day of a new job? From navigating the new office to learning your co-workers' names and where they sit, it's a day full of overwhelming firsts. Now imagine you work remotely and never have been to the office, but are coming in for a day. Would you know where to sit, where resources are located, or who to ask for help?
If you're the person in charge of managing the first day/in-office experience, you know these situations occur pretty frequently. With the increase in remote working, it's more common for these employees to feel left out when they do come into the office.
This reality makes it essential to give remote and hybrid workers the support they need to succeed in their roles. With these tips, you’ll learn how to make remote workers feel like a part of the team, no matter where they’re working.
Different Types of Remote Workers and Their Needs
Wherever your team works, it's important to support everyone's unique working situation. It's best to determine how your equipment helps bring teams together to allow for productivity every day.
Work environment, schedules, and work-related notifications should all be considered when determining the needs of remote employees. This means taking the time to ensure everybody has the correct setup and understands the rules and processes associated with their positions.
Every role and every person is different. Establishing predefined guidelines can help eliminate uncertainties and promote individual success.
Let's define the different types of remote work so you can decide what your organization looks like and how to best enable it.
Co-located employees are an excellent solution for businesses that want to reduce the overhead costs of their workforce without fully committing to remote environments. Distributed teams cost less and require less effort to manage.
In a co-located work environment, individuals share the workspace with others on their team rather than the whole office. This setup allows employees to interact and communicate on projects in a real space.
A co-location is a good option for businesses that need to have individuals collaborating with their team members in person. This setup allows them to brainstorm and think through problems more creatively.
The co-located worker works only from the office and interacts with people face-to-face, with calls and video conferencing with distributed colleagues. This person may be a part of a hybrid team, where some employees are co-located and others are remote.
For some businesses, having office space might not make sense. Employees who work, communicate, collaborate and complete a majority of tasks on their computers can be easily transformed into fully remote staff.
Having employees who don’t have to come into a physical location can save businesses a lot of money.
Remote employees work outside of a traditional office environment. They may be location-independent, or they may work full-time from a single location. They interact with others through email, video conferencing, and messaging apps. (To learn more about remote workers, in particular, check out this guide to answer any questions you might have.)
The last group is becoming more common and requires a bit more support: the hybrid worker.
Hybrid workers are a mix between the two other groups, meaning they spend part of their time working in the office and part of their time working elsewhere. Hybrid employees can choose to work however and wherever they're most productive. They'll use a combination of face-to-face meetings, and video conferencing, and messaging tools to communicate with their colleagues.
Hybrid work environments are becoming increasingly popular as a middle-of-the-road solution for businesses that see the benefits of remote work, but still need some or all of their employees to meet in person at a physical location.
These hybrid work environments allow employees to work remotely while coming into the office when they need to. This setup improves the working environment by reducing stress and giving individual employees greater autonomy.
When a Workplace Doesn't Support Remote or Hybrid Workers
Workplaces should be built to support your employees. To make workplaces as functional as possible, some companies have shifted to an "open office plan", thinking it will solve all their problems. The rise of open offices and remote work has some negative impacts on remote workers.
While roughly 70% of offices using an open office plan can increase collaboration between co-located employees, hybrid and remote workers don't always reap these benefits. But problems don't just arise from having an open-office plan. Many common issues can derail an organization’s attempts at moving to a hybrid model.
Not Enough Space
If a workplace doesn't have enough designated meeting rooms or huddle spaces, it can become difficult to get work done. Background noise and other distractions can detract from the tasks at hand when remote employees try to call in. Or if discussions with other team members are inefficient, remote employees won't be able to interact with the team when questions or problems arise.
In a hybrid workplace, flexible seating makes it easier for employees to find seating without competition. With the right tools, businesses can deploy flexible space management services that allow them to track and distribute available space, so employees can always find an open seat.
Lack of Internal Support
Workplaces also aren’t always equipped to support hybrid workers. While they do need a desk for the days they are in the office, their space is empty when they're not. You need a solution, like a reverse-hoteling strategy, to efficiently use space and maximize office usage.
With the right support systems in place, you can seamlessly allow teams to book space and eliminate assigned seating. For most companies, a hybrid workplace offers the opportunity to transform how resources are distributed. This approach lets employers support their teams and ensure they’re successful no matter what.
In any workplace, communication is an essential factor that determines success. When teams can’t properly communicate their ideas, share important information, or make critical observations, it can have a detrimental impact on the organization as a whole.
Whether employees are working in co-located, remote, or hybrid environments, they need the ability to easily communicate with one another. Having different tools and technology for each situation and team will allow you to support and connect your distributed workforce.
Equipping Your Workplace for Remote and Hybrid Employees
Good workforce management involves giving employees the tools and resources they need to do the job correctly. This stipulation is no different for remote and hybrid environments.
Having a distributed team can make this task much more difficult. Tracking time, completing projects, and making adjustments based on outcomes all require increased attention.
Decision-makers looking at creating a remote or hybrid environment must consider each employee's unique needs when assessing risks and taking the steps necessary to ensure success. Whether you’re dealing with remote workers or hybrid employees, there will always be unexpected problems that should be addressed right away.
The Remote Worker
Because remote workers work from home and don’t have access to traditional support systems. They require unique solutions and technology. Equipping remote employees involves building virtual-first strategies and resources, so your remote teams can find what they’re looking for wherever they are.
Your office should also have a virtual-first focus. Building spaces that allow in-office employees to easily connect with remote employees and implementing the right technology will help simplify the workplace experience for everyone. Consider these tips:
1. Create Spaces for 1:1 Conversations
There are a few office layout changes that best support the remote worker. Designated huddle spaces or call booths make it easy for co-located employees to speak to their remote counterparts. These spaces are soundproof and provide productive spaces for one-on-one meetings.
The ability for employees to get together and have dedicated conversations in an unrestricted environment is essential for driving success and improving the relationships among team members.
One-on-one conversations offer a more casual space for individuals in remote teams to align shared goals and expectations. Good collaboration starts with clear communication.
2. Invest in Video Conferencing Tools
Remote employees benefit from having screen time with their peers and managers. Meeting this need means taking the time to schedule ongoing video conferencing meetings for sharing ideas, updating on projects, and providing feedback.
Video conferencing is the most efficient and natural way for remote workers to connect with others, so companies need to invest in an effective video conferencing system. Products like the Meeting Owl are easy to use and capture the feeling of your standard in-person meeting.
All you have to do is plug it into a laptop, start your meeting, and it feels like you're right in the room with everyone. The Meeting Owl auto-focuses on those speaking in the room to keep the discussion on-topic and more naturally integrate remote workers into the discussion. This setup is essential for properly equipping employees no matter what environment they’re in.
The Hybrid Worker
Hybrid employees require adequate space management systems for completing tasks and communicating goals. With employees coming in and out of the workplace throughout the day, it can become difficult to allocate space efficiently. This reality makes it important for decision-makers to consider how each schedule might affect another.
An effective hybrid work environment uses automated systems and tools to simplify the process of allocating resources and equipment.
1. Use "Flex-Desking"
One solution for space management is "flex desking." This allows hybrid workers to book desks when they need them, and keeps them open for other employees to use when they don’t.
Flexible desking also helps maximize resource usage in the workplace since you don’t need one desk for every employee, only for those that are in an office at a given time. Having a solution to enable seamless desk booking means you won't get stuck working in the kitchen because your desk was turned into a printing station.
2. Incorporate "Wayfinding" into Your Office
Another useful tool to help hybrid employees is to support "wayfinding." You'll want to make it as easy as possible for hybrid employees to find their way around the office because if they can find all the resources and people easily, they're much more likely to feel included and productive.
Create an interactive map of your office for employees to use that labels desks, rooms, and technology. This way all employees in an organization can see what rooms and desks are available to enable the effective use of resources.
3. Utilize Room Booking Systems
Proper workplace management involves equipping hybrid workers with the tools they need to meet and share ideas. When meetings occur on the fly, employees need to be able to sync their schedules and find a time and space that works for everyone. It’s essential to have a room booking system in place, so teams can easily book a meeting and get right to work.
The Co-Located Worker
The good news is that the co-located worker has as much to gain from these tools as the others do. Workers can take advantage of activity-based workstations, flex desking, and wayfinding like their remote and hybrid counterparts. However, there are still some considerations that should be undertaken when developing a co-located workforce.
1. Utilize Your Workspaces
Co-located workers can use differing workspaces for their different tasks. They can take a one-on-one meeting in a huddle room, move to a desk for heads-down work, and use a conference room for a team meeting all in one afternoon.
Having multiple types of workspaces for different activities allows team members to find the best setup for what they need to get done including connecting with their remote coworkers.
2. Pair Video Conferencing and Room Booking
Co-located workers should also effectively use office technology. Video conferencing should be utilized as much as possible to keep the co-located teams on the same page as those that are remote. Room booking and usage systems should also be a priority as teams in the office will get the most use out of them.
Improve the Hybrid Employee Experience
With these tips in mind, you'll be able to create harmony between all of your teams and worker types, no matter where they’re located. Don’t be afraid to make changes as you go. All teams are different and so are their needs
Tools like Robin can help you better manage your space and understand what is and isn’t working. Workplace Analytics and our suite of hybrid tools make it easy to identify pain points and adjust as needed. Equip employees with the resources they need to maximize productivity.
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We've partnered with our friends at Robin to bring you the best tips on how to optimize your workplace for remote and hybrid workers. We're experts in remote work and make the Meeting Owl, a 360° video conferencing camera that actively captures those speaking in a room. Robin's focus on unlocking the workplace through space booking and usage insights makes us a great team to drive the future of work forward.