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Hybrid work offers the flexibility of remote work and collaboration of the in-office environment; however, technology is the key to implementing and empowering a hybrid workspace. — Getty Images/ alvarez

Hybrid teams — teams of employees who work both remotely and in the office — are on the rise. A study by consulting firm Accenture found that hybrid workforce models have been embraced by 63% of high-revenue growth companies.

Hybrid work offers the flexibility of remote work and collaboration of the in-office environment however, technology is the key to implementing and empowering a hybrid workspace.

Here are some ways that companies exploring hybrid work environments can implement technology to improve productivity, encourage a unified company culture and maintain employee engagement.

[Read more: How to Develop a Hybrid Office Policy]

Create opportunities for ​​“microtransactions”

“Organizations that have kept employees connected have also tended to see their productivity increase,” reported McKinsey. The consulting firm dubbed these small moments of connection “microtransactions,” referring to opportunities throughout the day that employees find to discuss projects, share ideas, network and mentor each other.

In a hybrid work environment, technology can facilitate these microtransactions no matter where someone is working. Tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams can create space for water-cooler chat and informal conversations throughout the day. If you decide to have a happy hour or lunch meeting in the office, stream it over a video platform like Zoom so everyone can join.

Focus on asynchronous communication

One of the challenges of a hybrid workspace is the mindset shift needed to accommodate remote work and in-person meetings simultaneously. Experts recommend embracing asynchronous communication tools to ensure no one gets left out of important meetings and decisions.

“You might expect that members of the remote team should answer your messages as quickly as someone in the office. But that probably won’t be the case,” wrote Hive. “On their end, they might have problems accessing information or keeping up with meetings and conversations.”

Make sure that in-office meetings are livestreamed and open for everyone, including those working remotely. Record your in-person meetings and calls for everyone to review. Zoom, Google Hangouts and other video tools often offer a way to record your session and share it afterward.

Experts recommend embracing asynchronous communication tools to ensure no one gets left out of important meetings and decisions.

Centralize project management

Many platforms can help keep everyone on the same page, no matter where they work. Tools like Asana, Trello, Jira and Smartsheet add visibility to the project management process, allowing teams to share documents, updates and approvals. By creating transparent workflows, managers can understand where there may be bottlenecks in business processes and adjust accordingly.

Track work — for the right reasons

Time-tracking tools can often be seen as punitive, rather than productive. Employees who work remotely in a hybrid-office setup may feel micromanaged when asked to track their time; however, time-tracking can also help managers prevent burnout and ultimately improve employee well-being.

Keep in mind that some employees believe hybrid work is a necessity, not a luxury. Some team members are working from home to help manage school schedules, take care of a family member or for other personal reasons.

“It’s critical that, throughout these transitions, you to pay close attention to your team members’ stress levels,” wrote Harvard Business Review. “Many people are stressed, irritable and exhausted — including you.”

Require all employees to track their hours, whether they are in the office or remote. If you see someone taking on more hours week after week, speak to that person to learn more about their workload and stress level to find out how you can support them.

[Read more: Leading a Hybrid Team? Here’s How to Create and Maintain Your Culture]

Share everyone’s availability

Make it easy for the team to keep track of who is where, when. Calendar tools like Google Calendar, Outlook, and Teamup can help everyone keep track of who is in the office, who is working remotely and each team member’s availability.

Many hybrid offices offer not only location flexibility, but hourly flexibility too. As a result, team members will need a tool to notify colleagues when they plan to be online and when they need time away for other priorities. Encourage calendar-blocking to help every employee find work-life balance.

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Published March 18, 2022