Making Hybrid Actually Work – For Everyone (Even Your CEO)

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I’ve worked for one of the biggest leaders in remote working and I can assure you: it doesn’t work well just by chance. 

 

So what does it take to make remote working work well?

 

Intention:

Great remote working doesn’t happen by accident.  You can’t just provide your employees with the most basic technology possible and send them home for 3, 4, or 5 days a week and expect them to flourish.

You have to select the right team of internal and external partners and get intentional about creating the best environment for good remote working to happen.  Otherwise all you end up with are people feeling disconnected, uninspired, and unmotivated who simply get to work in their pajamas.

Create a committee, probably led by HR (or your CCO if you’re fortunate enough to have one!) and invite a few stakeholders from across the company to participate in creating remote work excellence.  Consider inviting an external party who has experience working for great companies as well as experience helping companies create great employee and customer experiences.  If you don’t know anyone like that, let us know!  😉

executive workshop

Knowledge:

Your executive team and managers have to know how to run remote meetings well –many from my experience don’t.

Most have never been taught.  They show up on Teams and fail to engage theirs.  They stare at black boxes (or up and off into the distance), and ask questions into the void and get very little engagement back.  Sounds like most of your “video” calls?

Don’t blame remote working, and certainly don’t blame your staff.  What training have you provided to them?  What coaching?  What technology?  You don’t just need to bring them into the office for the sake of connection and culture, you need to get the right partners, technology, and enablement to make hybrid working work.

  • Do most people have their cameras off?
  • When you ask questions do you get crickets?
  • Do your meetings have everyone participating and engaging? Or only a select one or two brave enough to speak up?

Don’t blame your people. At least not until you’ve done everything you can to provide the right environment for engagement, deep thoughtful discussion and debate.

And not just “the right environment” according to your IT department (who are often the most reluctant to even put on their cameras).

Be intentional about creating great WFA (Work From Anywhere) and engage experts in employee and customer experience to make this happen.

You can’t just provide a bit of “good enough” software from IT and expect everything to somehow all to come together, and then force your staff to go into the office when it doesn’t.

Technology:

There’s much more to creating amazing WFA than simply providing a laptop, remote access, and a Teams account.

Who in your company is most experienced with what leading companies are doing to create great WFA?  Create a committee and get them on it.

Don’t just ask your IT department to solve this on their own –especially if you haven’t given them any budget for it! Remember that they have a huge list of priorities to keep your company secure and running smoothly, but rarely are they experts in things like employee and customer engagement.

Just like you wouldn’t blindly ask IT to select your new omni channel marketing platform, or your new employee engagement software, don’t blindly ask them to architect the best WFA setup that will delight and engage your employees and customers.

Cover the Basics:

There is so much that goes into creating great WFA, but here are few of the absolute basics –especially for anyone in a client facing role:

  • External webcams with minimum 1080p.
  • noise cancelling headphones and noise cancelling microphones.
  • a 2nd display.
  • a docking station.
  • adequate Internet service.  Depending on which communication platform your company uses, your users may require more or less bandwidth.  Some platforms use large amounts of bandwidth, and some require much less.
  • a cloud phone system so they can take and make calls from anywhere in the world as if they were sitting in the office.
    • This means a fully featured, SMS capable, Caller ID that actually works properly, and call quality that reliably works in less than ideal bandwidth scenarios.
    • A corporate cell phone is not an appropriate alternative to having a proper cloud based phone solution.  Nor is it the most economical option.  It wastes money and generally provides a lousy employee and customer experience.
    • Personal cell phones are even less appropriate.  It’s not much more appropriate than asking your employees to use their personal email accounts to communicate with your most important clients.
  • A fully featured instant messaging platform that goes beyond just the basics, where teams can setup all sorts of channels allowing them to easily connect with internal teams as well as external clients and stakeholders (vendors, partners, etc.).
  • A video conferencing system that works well and encourages people to turn their cameras on.  It must be reliable and able to handle many people with their cameras on (both in terms of videos on the screen, but also in terms of resources required by the participants).  It should have advanced features that allow participants to look and sound their best –even in low bandwidth situations.
  • The ability for external parties to easily join a video meeting without needing to download any software (i.e. through a web browser) where basic features are still available and actually work (virtual backgrounds, screenshare, in meeting group and individual chat, etc).
  • The ability to annotate on the screenshare to walk a colleague or customer through the presented material.
  • Conference room systems that create equity amongst participants so that neither those in person, or those remote are setup as 2nd class citizens.
 

These basics above are especially critical for anyone in a client facing role.  Salespeople, Account Managers, Recruiters, and Executives must all have appropriate technology that allows them to show up at their best and do their best work from wherever they want to work.

What works well for your developers may not work well for your recruiters.  What’s “good enough” for your IT department, may not be good enough for your top executives, enterprise sales reps, or contact center staff. 

 
And while this is really just the tip of the iceberg, it’s mind blowing how many companies aren’t even providing these most basic elements.  If you have all these elements in place, great –now we can turn to phase 2 and start examining a little deeper.
female executive working from home

Conclusion:

A mere checklist cannot capture the intricacies of individual roles and unique organizational needs. Creating a hybrid working environment that enables your employees to truly work at their best involves a deep dive into the needs of your business.  It requires intention, knowledge and budget to ensure you’re moving beyond the lowest common denominator where things are merely “possible”, and into the realm of excellence and happiness.

Moving beyond the mere basics, there are so many technologies that can make a huge impact in employee and customer happiness while boosting productivity and efficiency.  Technologies like employee engagement platforms, project planning, AI automations, and so much more.  There are hundreds of vendors that claim to help companies improve employee and customer engagement and do so to varying degrees.  The important part is to understand your company’s unique gaps, frictions and challenges keeping you from happier employees and customers and find the best technology, services, and enablement for your teams.

David Toushek and team Telarus behind him

We can help:

At Everything Communications we identify the largest gaps, frictions, and opportunities to create happier, more connected and engaged employees and customers.  We’re backed by Telarus and Intelisys (two of the largest tech brokerages in the world) and work to understand your current challenges and provide technology and enablement to increase Connection, Engagement, and Trust with your employees and customers.  We bring you a deep bench of experts in communications technology and over 250 of the top CommTech vendors in the space.

 

Contact us to discuss how we can help your company create everything you want.