It’s no secret that COVID-19 forced a quick shift in working models. While companies moved mountains to support remote employees, the quick nature of this transition resulted in band-aid solutions.
According to the recent The State of the Industry: Future of Work study from Dubber and AT&T, 72% of respondents said they lack a detailed strategy and roadmap, and 76% don’t have the right KPIs to support hybrid working models. Plus, while 79% of respondents believe hybrid working effectively drives productivity, less than half (45%) feel it doesn’t support innovation and 54% see it impacting collaboration.
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If hybrid working is here to stay – and it is – now is the time to take a step back, assess hybrid work opportunities and areas of improvement, and build a technology-enabled strategy that is purpose-built to support a flexible work environment.
Organizations can do this through five steps.
How to better support hybrid work
Align roadmaps to outcomes
Creating a new roadmap from scratch can seem like an overwhelming endeavor, but there are publicly-available best practices to pull inspiration from – McKinsey’s nine organizational imperatives is a great example. As they note in their recent article, “the answer isn’t to modify the old models but to replace them with something radically better.”
Creating a roadmap based on desired outcomes, such as creating a positive work culture, speeding up decision time, or improving customer interactions can all be accomplished with a data-driven approach.
Hybrid working contains two dimensions – conversations and collaboration tools. Without data flowing from conversations, many of the insights achieved when working together are lost the moment a remote conversation ends. AI-enriching conversational data not only yields insights but also fuels productivity.
This exercise not only sets you up for success but also can highlight where changes or investments need to be made.
The location of employees should not hinder their ability to innovate – you just need to find the right mix of technology to make that a reality.
Traditionally, innovative ideas were expected to come from in-person brainstorms, water-cooler conversations, workshops, hack days and cross-departmental working groups. Now we’ve shifted to virtual collaboration streams like Slack channels and online meetings with conversational AI tools built-in for recording, transcription and search. This capability can improve collaboration and comprehension, and it can ensure ideas turn into actions quicker.
Collaborate more effectively
To counter Zoom fatigue, get creative and take your meetings beyond the basics. For example:
- Create a virtual open-door policy with “office hours” on an open Zoom line where team members can drop in at any time that fits their schedule.
- Embrace new collaborative technology. According to Microsoft’s 2022 Work Trend Index: Annual Report, “52% of employees are open to using immersive digital spaces in the metaverse for meetings or team activities in the next year.”
- Use advanced features in meetings to share recordings of important conversations for team members that were not able to join.
- Foster culture with regularly scheduled virtual team-building activities such as Friday afternoon trivia or weekly team member appreciation sessions.
Upgrade infrastructure and data security
Organizations that implemented ad-hoc remote work setups during the pandemic are now doing the backward dance of strengthening their InfoSec and compliance posture, including rolling back inadequately protected solutions and layering security hygiene on top of current business configurations.
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Many organizations are subject to multiple compliance mandates. Now technology for activities such as call recording needs to be deployed to support new conversational pathways and in most instances multiple calling and conversational technologies – voice, video and chat.
Leverage AI and ML to surface hidden business insights
There are endless opportunities for businesses to get ahead of the competition by deploying AI and ML technologies to optimize hybrid work.
In the Dubber and AT&T survey, executives across the board said that leveraging these tools in a distributed workplace will help them perform better in the next 24-36 months by providing more effective training and more efficient interactions with customers.
For example, respondents indicated AI/ML technology is essential to use for employee training (86%), easing the use of FAQs and learning banks (76%) and delivering conversational help (71%). This new technology is also being used to get the most out of conversational data and has a profound impact on employee productivity, customer intelligence and revenue leakage.
It’s time to make hybrid working, work better
The hybrid working model is the way of the future.
However, to make this new model work – for both the employee and employer – it’s essential that business leaders take the necessary steps to ensure the right strategy and technologies are in place. It all starts with creating a strategic roadmap and includes everything from upgrading security measures to creating a more collaborative work environment.
At the end of the day, businesses that embrace and adapt to our new normal are the ones that will win out.
Adrian Di Pietrantonio is co-founder & EVP of global partners at Dubber. In 2008, Adrian opened Dubber’s North American headquarters in Dallas, TX, and currently leads the company’s partner relations. He has secured more than 120 partnerships with the world’s largest telecommunication service providers and technology companies such as Cisco, AWS, Microsoft and IBM.