Hybrid Work is the future | Use M365 to prepare for it

Hybrid work is more than just a buzzword to latch onto; it’s the future for many organizations for the unforeseeable future. Whether you’re excited about the prospect or not, it’s our responsibility as leaders and digital workspace architects to provide our team with the tools they need to successfully get their work done in an enjoyable experience, no matter where they’re working. The good news is, Microsoft understands that hybrid is the new norm. They’re studying it and building new features to accommodate. In fact, they recently published a blog declaring hybrid work as our next big disruption and based on their findings from a study of more than 30,000 people in 31 countries, and trillions of productivity and labor signals, it’s clear; flexible work is here to stay.  So, how can you use Microsoft 365 for hybrid work? Let’s break it down…

The Work Trend Index survey was conducted by an independent research firm, Edelman Data x Intelligence among, 31,092 full-time employed or self-employed workers across 31 markets between January 12, 2021, to January 25, 2021.  

Hold up, how do I even know if hybrid is right for my organization? 

If you’re not sure, take this quick quiz from Personio to help you understand if a hybrid work model is right for your team. As they mention in their post, there are many aspects of the business to consider when deciding if a hybrid work environment is right for you including, “investments, legal, locations, team structure, culture, infrastructure, communication, and smooth processes.” As digital workspace architects, here at PixelMill, we’re hyper-focused on three core components to the hybrid work model: infrastructure, communication/collaboration, and smooth processes. Let’s break down you can use Microsoft 365 for Hybrid Work and prepare these key pillars for the hybrid model. 


Infrastructure: 

The cloud is paramount in enabling a successful employee experience, especially in a hybrid work environment. The foundation of your infrastructure must be cloud-based if you want to fully support a hybrid team, and since we’re a Microsoft shop, that means the Microsoft Cloud, which includes Microsoft 365, Azure, and Dynamics. If you’ve been supporting a remote team, you’ve likely already embraced the cloud, but if you haven’t, now is the time. Still need convincing? Check out our post, Are You Cloud Ready? 

Once you have your systems in place to support the remote employee, now you have to start thinking about how you will accommodate your in-person offices for the remote worker. According to Microsoft’s 2021 Work Trend Index, “over 70 percent of workers want flexible remote work options to continue, while over 65 percent are craving more in-person time with their teams. To prepare, 66 percent of business decision-makers are considering redesigning physical spaces to better accommodate hybrid work environments.” What does this mean for infrastructure? We must assume people will be doing more work on phones, tablets, and laptops, and our infrastructure must accommodate that. People can be anywhere on a variety of devices.  


Adapt your meeting rooms to facilitate hybrid meetings 

Hybrid meetings will continue. Your in-office meeting spaces and your digital workspace must work in harmony to create a compelling employee experience, whether the employee is sitting in your conference room or at their kitchen table. Microsoft has software and hardware to help prepare your meeting room for the hybrid meeting.   

Software:  

Teams offers several features that elevate meetings in general and certainly better support hybrid meetings.  

PowerPoint Live 

Microsoft recently launched a new remote presenting experience with PowerPoint Live in Microsoft Teams. The main takeaways:  

        1. Presenter view gives you better control over your content 
        2. Seamless transitions between presenters with new controls 
        3. Presenter Mode helps you control the presentation view  
        4. Deliver engaging experiences by providing more flexibility to your audience with:
          • Interactive presentations that can be consumed at their own pace. 
          • Live reactions  
          • High fidelity viewing optimized for their screen type 
          • Accessible content available through screen readers, and soon high-contrast mode for all content will be available. 

Whiteboard App 

The Microsoft whiteboard feature empowers users to collaborate together.  It’s great for brainstorming sessions and certainly helps visualize a concept. Users can work together on a shared canvas no matter their location.  

Teams Meeting Sync 

With seamless meeting sync, you can help users switch between devices or locations without missing a beat.  

Hardware:  

Hardware will be equally important in an effective hybrid meeting space. During Ignite, Jared Spataro showed off the vision of a hybrid workspace utilizing Teams- supported devices like the surface hub, and intelligent cameras and speakers with the promise of smart technology that will following the speaker. If we are going to ask our employees to commute in—the office space must be dynamic and engaging, while simultaneously promoting equal opportunity to contribute and participate for those who aren’t physically in the room.  


Communication/Collaboration: 

Building an effective hybrid workspace starts by creating a culture that embraces flexibility, empowers asynchronous communication, and fosters an environment for collaboration.  


Bring ROP to ALL your meeting attendees 

You must ensure in-person meetings are still as valuable for those not in person. Check out our post on 9 ways to make a virtual meeting more valuable 


Keep it in the cloud!  

Effective collaboration on documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and more in a hybrid environment require us to be even more precise about keeping things digitized and in the cloud. Keeping your work in the cloud ensures everyone is working off the correct version and empowers employees to collaborate more easily in their schedule. 

If you don’t already have an intranet or similar space for your team to access the most up-to-date information and recent versions of files and documents you’re working on, now is the time! Is news shared on the ground floor making it to your newsfeed? Spoiler alert—it should be! 2020 forced us to digitize. If you have things in the physical office that still need to be digitized consider it’s just another way to maximize your in-office time by taking the mundane tasks off your plate so you can use that valuable facetime more effectively.  


How can you maximize your in-office time? 

Communicate clearly where you’ll be and when you’ll be there by using your Outlook calendar and updating your availability in Teams. And don’t hesitate to use insights from MyAnalytics to set a focus plan to give yourself some time in DND to focus.  


Process:  

Digitizing and automating are how you will scale. This is not a new concept by any means, but the more we can automate and digitize, the better we can support a hybrid workforce. How can you use Microsoft 365 for hybrid work automation?

Every process has to be digitized because some people may not be in the office every day. Your tasks should be seamless whether you’re in the office or on your couch. Does your digital workspace work well on a desktop? Mobile? Tablet?  

Microsoft 365 provides many low to no-code solutions to help us automate processes. FormsLogic AppsPower Automate, and Power Apps can all help enforce governance and facilitate process and workflow automation.   

If you have undigitized anything, now’s the time. 


The future:  

We all want the Kingsmen meeting experience, and while we aren’t quite there yet, the future is looking promising. Check out this video from Ignite, where Microsoft’s Alex Kipman unveils Microsoft Mesh. 

Is your organization ready for a hybrid environment? Are you already empowering one but need help enhancing your digital workspace? Do you want to learn how to use Microsoft 365 for hybrid work at your organization? A PixelMill Microsoft 365 expert would love to chat with you today!  

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