September 24, 2021

4 min

3 Considerations for a Successful Hybrid Workplace

Employee productivity, in-office workflows, and insights and automation will be key to the next era of work.

The world has changed during the past couple of years. 

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, many offices had limited video options, applications were largely delivered from a data center, and wireless access was still a convenience rather than a core offering. Remote workers (who were still something of a rarity before 2020) often got by with mostly phone calls and emails, and mobile workers lived out of their suitcases, touching base with headquarters through reports and updates. 

Today, many mobile workers find themselves at a desk, serving their customers and clients remotely. People working from home have figured out how to shove the clutter just outside the frame of their video meetings. And organizations — after a breathless 20 months or so — are finally taking a step back to rethink the role of the physical office in a world where so many people successfully work from home. 

With the changing nature of work, it’s not too much of a stretch to say that a successful hybrid workplace will be a foundational component of almost any productive organization in the future. When we think about hybrid at CDW, there are three pillars companies should consider as they firm up their visions for the future of hybrid work.

1. Productivity

Employee productivity has long been one of the factors that differentiate highly successful enterprises from less effective organizations, and that’s not going to change in the hybrid workplace. If anything, it may be an even more important differentiator than before, now that there are so many additional variables that could either boost or derail productivity. It’s easy to forget now, but when COVID first hit, many business leaders expressed concerns that the productivity of knowledge workers would plummet when they began working from home en masse. But that largely did not happen. 

On the contrary, numerous reports highlighted increased productivity — some of which was due to employees “giving back” the minutes that they would have previously spent commuting to their jobs. There’s an important lesson here: If you have the right people in your organization, boosting productivity is less about watching over them, and more about giving them the tools they need to do their jobs. For many organizations, this means standardizing and simplifying their collaboration environments.

2. Office Workflows

Many workers have been absent from the physical office for over a year and a half, and they’ve largely learned that they can do their jobs just fine from home. This means if companies want their employees to return to the office, they will need to provide a compelling reason. The physical office simply should not look and operate exactly as it did in February 2020. Instead, organizations must optimize layouts and workflows to create a positive employee experience and promote collaboration and engagement. 

This may mean eliminating assigned desks and opting instead for hot desks or hoteling. It may mean giving employees access to new applications or other tools. or it may mean surveying employees to learn more about what would make them feel as safe and productive as possible when they come into work. The experience of returning to the office must be better than working from home.

3. Insights and Automation

By embracing insights and automation in their collaboration environments, organizations can gain a better understanding of how employees are working, streamline management tasks and better protect their networks and sensitive data. For instance, companies can automate mundane activities such as opening tickets and resetting passwords, and even automate their initial response to cyberattacks. 

Ultimately, organizations will get the most out of hybrid workflows when users enthusiastically adopt collaboration tools and put them to use. Insights and automation are critical to improving the employee experience, which in turn drives user adoption — and, over the long run, promotes a successful hybrid work environment.

Story by Ozzie Vargas, an enterprise collaboration consultant with CDW. He works with customers to develop a collaboration strategy, understand their business goals and expectations and map them to the corresponding technology.