In this article we’ll discuss how the workplace has become hybrid-remote and how you can provide the right tools for asynchronous and synchronous ways of working to make the life of your employees as efficient as possible.
We have evolved to a hybrid-remote workspace
The world has gone through one of its largest change management programmes ever. COVID-19 drove many of us from an office via home to a hybrid environment where people are either at home or at work (and not necessarily all at the same time in the same location). IT departments were struggling at first, making an enormous effort to enable a shift to a hybrid-remote workspace. They often had to cut corners and implement quick patches to infrastructures. Productivity was prioritised over corporate- and legal compliance.
Today, press and analyst reports confirm that nearly half of the office workers (1) will work (at least partly) from home and from an office in a post COVID-19 world . So today is a good moment to take a closer look at the solutions you can bring to your hybrid workspace.
What do you need to collaborate efficiently in a hybrid-remote context?
We can see that hybrid remote communities thrive best if they can collaborate on asynchronous platforms. Some characteristics of these asynchronous working methods are the following:
- Everyone is working on one single source of truth. For example: shared documents where everyone sees the latest “version” all the time,
- Documents are accessible through any device,
- The history of document contributions is always visible to everyone making collaboration a lot easier.
This way of working has already been integrated in many of the applications that you use on a daily basis:
- Google Workspace or O365 will allow users to share documents or share comments and suggestions inside a document
- Salesforce will allow users to make chatter posts on an opportunity or account record
- Git will keep track of things through a wiki, activity tracking on commits, issue logs, kanban boards…
There is however a moment that working asynchronously isn’t the best choice. Only then it’s the time to get back to a synchronous way of working, also known as meeting people virtually or physically. Today there’s a wide range of video conference applications available. And the office has become a place to meet, not in the last place for social interactions.
In the new way of working, it has even become easy to record live meetings for those who cannot make it to the meeting but still want to be aware of the outcomes of a live conversation.
You get the most out of those if you will be able to:
- Provide an agenda with a topic and a goal
- Point to reference material in your source of truth (a document, a thread in chat, an object in SFDC, an issue in Git, etc)
- Demand that people come prepared
- Record your meeting (those who cannot make it do not want to be left out)
Don’t forget that you need to provide tools for both synchronous and asynchronous ways of working. When you only provide a synchronous communication platform that works in isolation of other applications (such as Zoom), people will end up in an endless series of back-to-back meetings sharing their screen. If you see that happening in your teams, you missed the implementation of the asynchronous platform from a change management and/or a technical perspective.
Making your (a)synchronous way of working a success with change management
A mix of synchronous platforms and asynchronous platforms allow your employees to work together without always working in the same physical location or even timezone. However, changing habits towards a new platform or way of working is not always easy. Have you ever launched a platform, a new way of working, or an application, and found out one year down the line that the adoption was really low? Well, you can rest assured you’re not the only one.
To make these new ways of working a success and allow your team to get the most out of it, investments in change management are essential.
Do you believe that your organisation can use help with change management or do you want advice on changing towards a hybrid-remote workspace? Our experts are here to help.
What tools can you use in the hybrid-remote workspace?
If one would ask me what the largest work-from-anywhere community is, my answer would be: “the Linux community”. We can all agree that Linus Torvalds is the mastermind behind that. He made himself famous not once, but twice. First for the Linux kernel, but secondly for inventing Git. Linus’ reason for inventing Git (2) is that he needed a collaboration platform for the Linux community that would allow them to be productive without being in endless meetings (virtual or physical). Linus is not a real person-person you see… He really meant “enabling collaboration at scale without too much human interaction”.
We now see flavours of Git, such as Github or Gitlab being used as enterprise standards as collaboration platforms for developers.
Ask an open source developer what his/her most important collaboration platform is and the answer is: Git(x)
Slack seems to be the most popular collaboration platform for DevOps engineers. I might also need to mention Mattermost as its open source competitor. Granted that Slack has more use cases than DevOps alone (the API integration possibilities are endless), but we see that it is the go-to platform to capture and collaborate on the various processes and notifications that all the different products in a CI/CD pipeline surface. When we implement DevOps at our customers we are really changing the way the dev and ops community works.
Ask a DevOps engineer what his/her most important collaboration platform is and the answer is: Slack
Workplace (aka Facebook at Work)
Facebook is unarguably the most widely used social network that made it to the enterprise in the form of Workplace (previously known as Facebook at Work). It helps employees connect in a social manner and really lives up to the work the way you live and consumerisation of the enterprise paradigms. There’s others of course. Microsoft has Yammer, Google had Currents (G+ rebranded) and Salesforce tries with Chatter (although that will most likely change with the Slack acquisition), etc. We notice that social networks are rapidly replacing the Intranet. In popular terms: Intranets are “shout but don’t listen” and are meant to push information. Social networks facilitate conversations around information, both formal and informal. And the truth needs to be said. The old style intranet and the social network can work side-by-side quite well and hybrids such as LumApps do a good job too.
Ask a person in his/her workable age what his/her most favourite social network is, and the answer is most likely: Facebook
(teenagers will have a different opinion though)
Office 365 and Google Workspace
Office 365 and Google Workspace (previously known as G Suite) are collaboration platforms for the knowledge worker. They both offer online collaboration on a single file (goodbye to versioning), have their own team spaces to collaborate and offer low- and no code applications (MS Teams, PowerApps, Google Drive, Google Chat, Google AppSheet). Both vendors struggle with the adoption of the platform the way it was intended to work, as a lack of change management investment makes employees use the collaboration platform in their old behaviour. (How many attachments are still sent? Teams only used as a file server? Anyone?).
Ask an office worker what his/her collaboration platform is, and the answer is most likely: O365 for those coming out of legacy environments, and Google Workspace for Digital Natives or those that aspire to work like one.
Want to talk further on this topic? Need advice on changing towards a hybrid-remote setup? Contact us here.