Are You Ready for a Hybrid Workforce?

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If you are planning a return to the office, you may be considering a hybrid solution. As organizations across the DMV region plan to return to the office, many consider a blend of work from home (WFH) and the office environment. Some are also considering a mix of employees and contractors. In this blog, I provide MainSpring tips for a successful solution.

WFH moves to a hybrid solution

Recently, I read a news story posted by the Boston Globe. "The hybrid workplace probably will not last." In the news story, the author stated that having some employees remain at home while others return to the office will go against the business's culture. That is certainly a consideration.

I think technology offers a solid bridge between WFH and those that return to the office, if only for a few days a week. In my first blog about returning to the office, I posted a tip from MainSpring vCIO Kurt Schneider as part of our back-to-the-office IT guide. Here is an excerpt from Kurt

Team leaders and managers can use the Microsoft TEAMS Shifts application to create, update and manage schedules and calendars for all employees. Additionally, managers will be able to inform employees about open or unfilled space.

An application, such as Microsoft TEAMS Shifts, can be the bridge between those that continue to WFH and those with a blended work schedule. It can also act as a bridge between employees and contractors.

Let’s take a look at Microsoft TEAMS Shifts as an example of a technology bridge.

Microsoft TEAMS Shifts, one subscription solution

I have often written about the use of subscription software as a budget-conscious remedy for both short and long-term needs. As IT teams assist with the planning for a return to the office, they may find a solution such as TEAMS beneficial.

Here are my 5 tips for including Microsoft TEAMS Shifts in your hybrid workforce plan:

  • If you already subscribe to Microsoft Office 365, you may use Shifts at no charge. This is a solution that can easily be deployed and may even be included in your established budget.
  • But… Microsoft TEAMS Shifts does not integrate with Outlook. The Shifts calendar can be printed or exported into Excel.
  • Did you downsize your office space during the COVID-19 pandemic? If you did, you might need to schedule the use of the remaining desk space. Perhaps employees will now "hotel" in the office space and share a desk with others. A software application, such as TEAMS Shifts, facilitates a "hotel" schedule.
  • Will you stagger the return to the office? If you will not bring back 100% of your staff on the same calendar, TEAMS Shifts is ideal for staggering a return.
  • If your business plan includes the use of contractors, your goal should also include a scheduling tool that is easy to use for all.

Of course, Microsoft TEAMS Shifts is just an example of one software application solution that MainSpring has worked well for some clients in the DMV region. Many technologies and software solutions will help facilitate a shift to a hybrid workforce. However, solutions should be matched to specific needs and budgets.

Contractors offer additional flexibility

A trend that is worth noting is an uptick in the use of contractors within a hybrid workforce. Why are we seeing this trend in the Maryland, DC, and Virginia region? For two reasons:

  1. Hiring a contractor allows the organization to diversify its talent pool, either long-term or even by the project. A contractor may bring a new skill set and a new perspective to your team without a long-term employment commitment. Contractors can WFH or work at your office. Also, they can work for your organization full time or only a few hours per week.
  2. Business leaders and HR departments now find that some employees prefer not to return to a traditional work office or schedule. To retain their talent and skills, managers are considering new possibilities. Perhaps this is the unique blend of business that will rise out of 2021?

Before adding contractors to your business plan, consider the impact on your technology infrastructure and the hybrid work environment.

Contractors and your technology plan

Before including contractors in your business plan, ensure that your IT team is prepared for their arrival. Consider your private technology network, passwords, software subscriptions, hardware, and standard operating procedures.

As I write this blog, the East Coast is gripped in a fuel crisis—stemmed from a cybersecurity event. Cybersecurity should always be a paramount concern, daily or with any change to your business plan. Consider training and continued education through the MainSpring Automated Security Awareness Program.

Include your technology team, or a consultant, within your discussions and planning for the post-pandemic return to the office. If you feel that your company would benefit from a technology refresh and IT management, read about MainSpring’s ProSuite Plan.