It’s funny how buzzwords can enter the lexicon of business so quickly.
When countries were experiencing the first lockdowns everyone was talking about ‘remote working’.
The challenge for businesses and organisations was how to provide their employees with the tech to work from home: things such as secure laptops, broadband connections, Microsoft tools like Microsoft Teams, and headsets with mics.
With hopes growing in many countries that restrictions will ease over the months ahead, companies are making plans for their staff to ‘Return to Work’.
This has implications for you.
Any VA’s and EA’s who are serving these organisations need to be watchful – and be ready to respond.
In case you’ve not heard, there’s a new buzzword in town. Hybrid.
It’s short for hybrid working. It’s where people work some of the time in the office, some of the time at home.
For larger organisations, the challenge is now about a fresh set of questions and a new game of percentages.
- How many of their employees want to keep working from home – as they work better there?
- How many staff are the opposite – they can’t wait to get back to the office full time because they hate working from home?
- How many people want a hybrid mix – they like working from home but also enjoy the social interaction of the office?
I’m hearing that many companies planning the Return to Work are thinking about a particular strategy for the core of their employees.
It involves the 2-2-1 formation.
That’s two days working at home. Two days in the office. One day flex.
One thing is almost certain for organisations. The days of having 100 per cent of their employees based in a central office are over.
What I’m hearing from people who are reading, analysing and forecasting the trends in business is that hybrid working is here to stay.
That’s certainly a view supported by a recent global survey carried out by Cisco.
Its research revealed that more than half of all employees will work eight or more days each month from home.
This means 98 per cent of meetings will have at least one employee attending remotely from home.
This raises some serious questions.
Some big questions about hybrid working for leaders and managers to ponder.
How will they make their offices safe? How will they use, adapt or change their meeting room space? How will they make use of technology to allow their widely dispersed people to collaborate and communicate effectively?
These challenges also have implications for the smarter VA.
If remote and hybrid working is here to stay, that means technology is going to be playing a much bigger part in how people in organisations communicate, get creative and collaborate.
Everything will become ‘smarter’.
You’ll start to hear more talk of smart buildings and smart offices, desk booking and digital signage, and enhanced video conferencing and mic systems.
Let’s say you have some clients looking for solutions (or likely to be thinking about this for 2021 and beyond). You do some research on solutions, providers and a buyer’s checklist – and offer to share it as a PDF or PowerPoint presentation.
How is that going to look? I’ll tell you.
Clients and prospects are going to be impressed by your initiative, data skills and problem-solving attitude.
You don’t have to become a video conference, desk management or digital signage specialist. You just need to know how to find the information, and how to put it together in a relevant format.
Hybrid working means more Zoom and more Microsoft Teams.
I know I keep saying this, but if you are a VA working with an SME or corporate organisation you need to know how to use Teams.
Not just the basics. But how to make use of all of its essential features. It is much more than just a video conferencing or virtual meeting tool.
Clients will expect you to be fluent in Microsoft Teams. Make 2021 the year you get to grips with it – so you never have to ‘wing it’, waste time or miss opportunities for work.
There’s another good reason for mastering Teams.
Some companies put so much effort and investment into ensuring their employees had the tech to work properly from home that they forgot one thing. Not many of their staff knew how to use all of the applications and software that came with it.
You have people who are great at their jobs but struggling to get their heads around the tech – and not always having the support they need.
If you’re confident, you could offer to provide some basic training. You could suggest a skills audit to assess the learning and development needs of staff. Or you could refer them to a certified trainer and recommend they have a conversation about ways to get everyone up to speed.
If you think I can help you with that, please get in touch.
It’s a time for superheroes.
As we both know if you’re having to work out how to do a task in an Office tool or 365 application you are wasting valuable time. It’s not productive. It’s not efficient.
When you get the tech side sorted, everyone can just get on with the task at hand, share ideas and collaborate more easily.
Hybrid working looks like it is here to stay. Help organisations to turn their challenges into opportunities – and ensure your skills are keeping pace with change.
Remember, you become a superhero when you make your clients, and their people, heroes.