Harnessing technology to create a positive hybrid working culture

Everyone hears about the digital age and how technology has changed the world we live in. When I think back to when I entered the world of work in 2001 working on an IT helpdesk, it is clear that technology has changed the workplace beyond recognition. Technology has steadily progressed and impacted us all, and now we all use video conferencing, social media, and smartphones without a second thought. If we want to, we can now work anywhere in the world at any time of the day, which has enabled The Kite Factory to change the way we work in a way that would have been unthinkable back in 2001!

Technology has helped change how we work and interact to ensure our teams deliver for our clients. Like all businesses during the pandemic, we embraced Teams, but we decided probably earlier than most that we were unlikely to all be back in the office full-time once it was over. We wanted to move towards a more hybrid way of working but didn’t want this to have a detrimental impact on the fantastic culture within the agency.

The move to a hybrid office model was partly due to the agency expanding. Still, we also had staff that moved away from London during the pandemic, graduates joining us who lived with their parents across the country, and staff who wanted to spend more time with family who lived overseas. So to keep and grow the best team possible, we used technology to ensure our people have the tools to do their jobs wherever they are without impacting the business.

When deciding to change the ways of working within a business significantly, you need to consider many factors. This includes business needs, budget, operational requirements, and the culture within your company. You also need to ensure you have the technology to underpin the change. However, the technology needs to support the change and not drive it.

Creating an environment for collaboration

To enable hybrid working, we decided that our office needed to be a place that staff could use to collaborate better. So we moved to hot-desking, reduced some of the fixed desks and created new meeting rooms and collaboration spaces, where the team could work better together and still communicate with their colleagues working elsewhere.

Mitigating the hot-desk headache

It became apparent that with more staff and fewer desks, there was a risk that staff would come in and struggle to find somewhere to sit, which would not be great for business or morale! To manage this, we recently introduced a hybrid workplace platform called Robin, which enables staff to book a desk or a meeting room online. They can see who is sitting at the other booked desks or who will be in on a specific day so they can book a desk near a colleague that they are working on a particular project or client. There are other advantages around knowing who is in the office each day which assists with Health and Safety. Robin is a clear example of ensuring you implement technology to support the change.

Making meetings more inclusive

With the increased use of Teams that comes with hybrid working, it was clear that the old webcams attached to the meeting room screens just didn’t cut it. As a result, meeting room AV equipment has been upgraded to ensure that any video call meetings are clear, precise, and focused on the person speaking to create a much higher quality and inclusive experience for participants, despite their location.

Educating your team on IT security

If you are thinking about how to get the most out of technology to support a hybrid working environment, you need to ensure that you consider IT security (and that’s not just security through locking down your network and passwords on laptops). If you allow your staff to travel around the world and work, or just be sat at home or in a coffee shop working on their laptop, you need to ensure that your system is secure.

Unfortunately, an area that often gets overlooked is IT security awareness and training for staff. There is no point putting security in place if your team doesn’t understand why those measures exist. At the Kite Factory, our workforce completes IT security training every month through bite-sized 3-minute videos on various IT security areas, from phishing to data protection. Ensuring our staff have an awareness and understanding of what signs to look out for means lowered risk.

We have also implemented an online password vault, so if the worst happens and someone dodgy gains access, then they won’t be able to get very far as their passwords are complex and secured.

Getting to grips with your kit

No matter what technology you decide to implement, your teams need to know how to use it and make the most out of it. If you don’t train people how to use it, it’s a waste of money. So we provided training and user guides for staff, and all new starters receive an induction to make sure everyone gets the most out of the new setup.

Technology has come a long way, and as it continues to expand and develop, we should be open to the possibilities this brings. If you are looking to technology to help support your teams in this new way of working, many solutions are available. Just remember to talk with key staff to ensure the change fits your business needs and culture, then how technology can help support this change. If you are moving to a more hybrid working environment, ensure you also invest in user training and security, as without this, you are putting your business at risk.

By James Mooney, IT Manager