A hybrid working policy that doesn’t require serious expense or complexity
A few things to consider if you are migrating from temporary working from home (WFH) to permanent hybrid working.
Just a few years ago working from home was not an option for most people. This was party due to a technological lag that meant WFH whilst still being fully part of the office was not possible, and partly due to widely held inherent company culture where home working was a looked upon with a lack of trust. And to be frank it was often only senior management and company owners who allowed themselves the benefit of home working.
I’ve always found this a little odd, after all if you can’t trust one of your staff to work when they say they are how can you trust them to do a good job at all? And why should they be less trustworthy than you? I figure that the truth behind this is that many owners and senior management enjoyed the perks of less interruptions, more room to think and being able to pop into their garden for a sneaky 10-minute break without being caught out, and perhaps they just didn’t wish to share it.
The working from home culture shift
How things have changed! Companies have been forced to engage WFH just to keep functioning in these remarkable times, but far better provision of broadband and the capabilities of cloud mean that working from home for most is now feasible, staff can be managed and their performance measured at the same or often better levels than pre-pandemic times.
Staff can be fully connected for voice and data, calls can be routed just as though they were in the office, call volumes measured in real time and call recording can be achieved on desk phones, soft phones and even mobiles to allow full auditing. So owner and manager trust issues can be allayed.
The Practicality of Working from Home
But for those that work at home the practicality of the working environment is often ignored even though it can be a bigger issue than ones concerning technology.
Trying to work at the kitchen table or in an upstairs spare room with a data lead running down the hall to your internet router isn’t great. Particularly when the doorbell rings, the dog barks and you trip over the lead, lurching your laptop almost off the table as you rush to the door. And if you have children at home then you may end up taping a lead temporarily around the house to avoid multiple trip events. Ugly, frustrating and probably not something those people in health and safety would approve of, but OK in the short term.
Options for your hybrid working policy
So, what about long-term moving from enforced WFH to a proper hybrid working policy in the office and at home?
The truth is that technology can help you out here. It’s important that your most common place of work is set up correctly so if like me you prefer using a desk phone then I recommend having one at the location you work at most (subject to all the issues mentioned hereto) and then use a softphone elsewhere. Some in my industry advise a portable tablet style office phone but even though it sounds simple to pick up your tablet phone and take it home with you it’s just another device to lug around with you 2 or three times a week. And they are very expensive. So instead, I’d recommend it’s simpler and more cost effective to run a softphone on your laptop and have it twinned with your desk phone so that they operate as one extension. Alternatively have no desk -phone at all and simply run with the soft phone – no additional items to carry, no long cables at home and perfect calls.
IP DECT Handset
If at home you are not working in the same room as your internet router then a soft phone on your laptop with a decent headset will mean you can make, receive and transfer calls perfectly. Alternatively you could use an IP DECT (portable) handset running over your wi-fi or, since IP DECT handsets are often rather pricey, it’s also possible to connect a standard home portable handset via a nifty converter that plugs into your home router.
And if your home broadband is flakier than a statement by Matt Hancock, but you have good 4G then you can run a phone system app such as Ericsson-LG’s IPECS-one on your mobile phone which will run your mobile as an extension of the office phone system.
Noise Cancelling Headsets
Technology can even help with the barking dog and noisy children – noise cancelling headsets such as the Athena HSD2 will muffle out background sounds so that your voice isn’t drowned out by some of the more distracting home sounds.
Individual needs will vary within your hybrid working policy
For a hybrid working policy to work well you need to consider everyones’ individual circumstances and invest accordingly. None of these options are in themselves expensive but if you insist on unilaterally running exactly the same set-up for the sake of simplicity then inevitably you will come up against objections and inefficiencies. The beauty of these options is that it is simple to mix and match them so that everyone finds the style that suits them and feels their needs have been accounted for, which ultimately will give you the best chance of a happy, efficient team, and that’s bound to benefit your business.
For more on my thoughts on Flexible working, read my blog from last year: Flexible working – it’s as important for a businesses as it is for a gymnast.