Using technology to enhance hybrid working

With rising numbers of workers preferring remote and hybrid working, Lucie Mitchell investigates the importance of implementing the best technology to get the most out of modern ways of working.

Female worker on a video call


Hybrid working has become well-embedded into many organisations, as employers seek to offer flexibility and choice to employees while ensuring they remain engaged and productive.

Implementing the right technology is crucial to the success of a hybrid working model. With constant advances in technology, employers must make sure that they keep up with developments so they can harness the benefits on offer and provide employees with the tools they need to collaborate effectively and seamlessly, wherever they are working.

An employee experience report by NTT Data showed that 90% of organisations see hybrid and remote working as having a positive impact on their organisation, but less than half agree that their employees have access to the technology which they need when working from an office or from home. 86% admit that their organisation has yet to optimise a hybrid/remote working model, which may have led to a decline in overall employee wellbeing.

How can technology help?

For employers looking to enhance hybrid working in their organisation, the first step is to understand exactly how technology can support this model.

“Technology acts as the backbone of hybrid working by fostering communication, collaboration, and productivity across a distributed workforce,” explains Claire Williams, chief people and operations officer at HR software provider Ciphr. “To do this well, employers should ensure that all team members have access to the same resources and information, regardless of their location, by investing in appropriate communications channels and meeting platforms, project management software, and cloud services.”

Research by Ciphr found that for 56% of employees the hybrid model is their preferred way of working, but only 40% said that their current jobs enabled them to work in that way.

“The popularity of hybrid working will only continue to grow, so organisations need to ensure that their technology and management strategies support these changing workplace dynamics,” advises Williams.

According to Barbara Matthews, chief people officer at HR solutions company Remote, there are three basic categories of technology which can support hybrid teams: connection, collaboration and access. “Video conferencing software connects employees from any place; collaboration platforms such as Slack allow for easier communication and organisation; and digital cloud-based workspaces like Notion allow remote employees to access information, files, and applications from anywhere, whilst enabling them to work within these documents together in real-time.”

Equality in meetings

One particular area where employers can really benefit from investing in modern technology is for meetings. It is vital that employees can connect and collaborate with each other and employers must ensure that all employees have equal access to meetings regardless of their working location.

According to Microsoft’s 2022 Work Trend report, 44% of hybrid workers don’t feel included in meetings and 27% of organisations claim to have established new hybrid work meeting etiquette. To help ensure that remote participants don’t feel disadvantaged in meetings, technology can be utilised to optimise the work environment.

Technology which enables all participants – whether they are remote or in the office – to be heard and seen better, using AI-driven camera arrays that can separate people in meeting rooms and make everyone appear individually on screen – can help remote workers to feel equal and included.

“Investment in advanced sound and video conferencing systems is essential to ensure that remote participants are clearly seen and heard,” says Williams. “While using online collaboration tools, with features such as real-time document editing and digital whiteboards, can really add value and help facilitate an interactive and inclusive meeting environment for all.”

In addition, as Williams suggests: “Having effective meeting etiquette rules in place – to remind participants of the importance of clear agendas, being respectful of everyone’s time and practising active listening – also helps to ensure that employees are equally involved in the session.”

Katy Thorpe, global people director at AV technology provider Kinly, explains the advantages of using virtual meeting rooms. “A highly resourced virtual meeting room – rather than video conferencing software – offers a central meeting point for participants to come together. With the right technology, remote workers can join from anywhere, from any device, using multiple platforms, and essentially have the same quality of experience as people who are physically in the room; they can see and hear the reactions and body language of the people in the room in real-time and feel included.”

Addressing the challenges

Using technology in a hybrid workplace is of course, not without its challenges, such as cybersecurity threats, technical issues, and reduced personal interaction. “Employers can mitigate these by implementing comprehensive security measures, providing IT support, and encouraging regular check-ins and virtual social interactions between team members to maintain team cohesion,” says Williams.

One of the biggest issues with hybrid working tends to be on an interpersonal level, admits Thorpe. “Managers can find that the employer/employee relationship has been reduced to video interactions, with less opportunity to support their teams face-to-face. To address this, managers need to be supported by enhanced HR information systems, which can help them to better understand the needs of the workforce.”

As Williams concludes, technology is going to continue transforming the ways in which we work. “As technologies develop, the distinction between onsite and remote working will continue to blur. This should lead to a more flexible and integrated work environment, which will bring huge benefits to organisational efficiencies. Employers who are open to adapting to the evolving tech landscape and stay ahead of these trends will be well-positioned to thrive in the future.”

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