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3 Operational Pitfalls to Avoid as Businesses Shift to Hybrid Work Issues can arise as employees split their time between working from home and in an office. Here's how to avoid those issues before they become a problem.
One thing is for sure: An increasing number of businesses are adopting hybrid work, where employees spend some days working from home (WFH) and the rest of week at the office. In a survey conducted by Pitney Bowes, 90 percent of companies polled said they expect to adopt a hybrid work model, with a mere 10 percent returning fully to the office.
While splitting time between home and the office has its advantages, it can also wreak havoc on a business's operations and productivity if not managed with accuracy and control. According to Michael Botti, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Pitney Bowes, a successful shift to hybrid work requires not only a change in processes but also finding the perfect balance between two possibly conflicting needs. Namely, empowering productivity while monitoring efficiency across a greater geographical reach.
Here, we outline three potential operational pitfalls and how to consider and plan for them when making the shift to hybrid work.
Mistake #1: Maintaining antiquated processes.
With a new way of working in the hybrid setup, companies should consider which processes may become redundant or outdated. A prime example for this is the company mailroom. With employees WFH, the traditional mailroom no longer exists. Without a centralized location to send and receive time-sensitive documents or packages, companies should reconsider what the new process of shipping and receiving looks like.
"Companies need to be thinking about ways to make shipping easier for all employees regardless of where they work, as shipping may now be a component of their day-to-day tasks that employees didn't initially expect," Botti says. "Otherwise, businesses might find themselves missing deadlines and not fulfilling commitments."
This is where diagnosing problem areas and implementing automation to these processes is critical. "Shipping can be complicated and time consuming, especially for individuals who do not have a ton of experience with it. The more you can automate or streamline the experience, the more you'll reduce employee frustration and the chance that costly mistakes are made," Botti adds.
With Pitney Bowes' wide range of shipping solutions, companies can simplify and automate their previously antiquated processes. For example, Botti provides, "our solutions allow users to rate-shop across multiple shipping carriers, while providing access to discounted rates. This also includes mailing features such as the ability to print stamps directly from any PC, which makes our software an all-in-one shipping and mailing solution to keep productivity on track."
Mistake #2: Allowing communication and transparency gaps.
The success of a business relies on strong, open business communications. But with the shift to hybrid work, these lines of communication can easily be disrupted. Companies need transparency across functions, and that can be difficult to achieve as communications become more siloed with employees working from different locations. To maintain transparency and communications, companies require solutions that provide visibility into operations as they take place in real-time.
Beyond maintaining timely and cost-effective shipping offerings, Pitney Bowes' solutions can act as a workplace connector for communications across teams. With their software, operations managers can gain an in-depth look at shipping and receiving activity across remote teams to get a holistic view into operations.
"Plus, integrated analytics features allow businesses to track spend across users and locations, providing a centralized view into overall shipping" for managers to plan effective communication strategies around general overhead and spend to maintain productivity and efficiency, Botti says.
Mistake # 3: Being unprepared for technology issues.
When working in the office, it can be easy to rely on readily available IT teams to troubleshoot or fix technology issues that arise during the working day. At home, this can pose an entirely different set of time-consuming issues.
Wi-Fi outages or complicated software issues can turn a normal working day into an operational nightmare in a matter of moments, and businesses need to prepare for these occasions to keep productivity on track. Botti says, "activities done by a handful of employees at a central location will now need to be done by a broader group of employees who are more spread out geographically," and it's imperative to consider that from the technology standpoint, too.
To appropriately plan, companies can provide their WFH employees with an at-home troubleshooting checklist. By providing clear, easy-to-follow instructions on what to do in the event of a technology failure, employees can feel empowered to take matters into their own hands and minimize the risk of blocking on important projects. "A hybrid worker won't have a dedicated IT resource down the hall in their home," Botti says. "Any digital solution should be intuitive, easy to use, and easily set up."
Additionally, companies can introduce workflows that allow other employees to co-lead a project and act as the next line of defense. For example, if one employee experiences a software issue that prevents them from delivering customers what they need or from continuing their work, the co-lead in place on the project can keep operations moving until the initial employee's technology issues are resolved. "Providing resources for employees to troubleshoot issues on their own will minimize downtime and keep employees productive."
As hybrid work expands, successful business leaders will thoroughly consider the changes in a WFH environment vs. working in an office. Things like automating tasks, leveraging tools to strengthen communication, and creating a plan for when glitches arise can help make all the difference as employees become accustomed to splitting their time between work environments.
Click here to learn more about how Pitney Bowes can help your team manage their hybrid work situation.