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Hybrid Workplaces: A Win-Win Solution For Businesses And Their Employees In The New Normal Organizations that empower talent to be productive from anywhere, and provide the secure, safe, and private means to collaborate with confidence will create environments in which we can do our best work.

By Sam Tayan

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

If there is one thing that 2020 taught us, it is how to adapt. We learned to become resilient and flexible when dealing with circumstances or challenges that we face. The COVID-19 crisis has impacted almost every aspect of our life and has changed our behavior, whether it is the way we socialize, entertain, or work. What seemed like an entirely new and uncomfortable experience in the beginning, has now become habitual, and for some, the virtual experience is also enjoyable.

However, it is particularly interesting to observe the business transformation and modern workplace following the pandemic. In the last year, many industries saw their operations and work processes change as a result of the disruption brought about by the health crisis.

Remote working and the virtual workplace

In the first few months of the pandemic, we witnessed the region's response to the rising COVID-19 cases in the form of curfews and restrictions. During this period, many organizations adapted their processes to shift to remote work environments almost at a moment's notice.

Initially, businesses and employees took some time to familiarize themselves with new operational procedures and working patterns. A few weeks later, businesses soon became accustomed to the new norm of work: remote working and the virtual workplace. Many companies relied on video-conferencing platforms and online collaboration tools to enable communication and teamwork among employees and other stakeholders.

In the latter half of the year, many organizations in the Gulf region, took a gradual, phased approach to bring employees back to the office full time. This led to the emergence of new work modes such as hybrid working and flexible work arrangements. Many experts believe that the next few years will see a rise of "blended workplaces" in the region, as employees switch between working remotely and working from the physical office.

This change in the workplace has been bringing about a new way of communicating and collaborating with colleagues, clients, and other stakeholders, ushering in focus on digital transformation centered on the virtual experience.

Related: Zoom-ing Ahead: Behind The Scenes At The Company Whose Video-Conferencing App Has Taken Over Our Lives

The transition to hybrid working

In the months following the movement restrictions and lockdowns across the Gulf region, we saw the emergence of many new trends in the workplace. As employees became more accustomed to managing their workflow and responsibilities, they managed to stay productive, whether they worked from the office or home.

In fact, according to research, in the UAE, 50% of respondents wish to work at companies that allow flexible work hours, and 39% would like to have the option to work from home. Some organizations in the UAE adopted a hybrid work week, allowing employees to come to the office twice or three times a week and work from home for the rest of the week. Thus, businesses can re-evaluate their work loads and schedules to prioritize employee well-being while maximizing efficiency.

To implement and create an effective hybrid workplace, companies can take proactive measures to enhance productivity and safety.

Employee-first technologies for hybrid working

People are at the core of business success, and leaders are ready to support employees by embracing the concept of radical flexibility. They will build organizations around a hybrid workforce that is empowered to decide where, when, and how they work– and that is evaluated by the results they deliver.

As hybrid teams return to the office, workspace needs will be different. Flexible strategies like hot desking, where employees don't have an assigned workstation, might be more cost-effective as teams stagger in-office schedules and as your workplace teams navigate food, safety, and long-term space considerations. At the same time, employees will need interactive spaces designed for group work and deep thinking.

Businesses can use technology to empower employees wherever they are, streamline collaboration between in-office and remote workers, and make the transition back into the office as seamless as possible. With video-enabled workspaces powered by Zoom, teams can continue to work safely and effectively from anywhere. Solutions such as Zoom Rooms, Zoom Rooms Appliances, and Zoom for Home solutions are jam-packed with features designed to support hybrid workforces and help businesses re-enter the office safely.

These solutions can provide an integrated experience for audio conferencing, wireless screen sharing, and video conferencing for workspaces and can also allow employees who are working remotely to enjoy an immersive in-office experience in their home. By using tools such as webcams, smart whiteboards, air quality monitors, and virtual receptionists, companies can provide a safe and convenient experience to their employees as they return to the workplace or collaborate while working remotely.

Each work model, in-office or virtual, has its own unique strengths. Businesses have seen the potential to operate better than before as hybrid work solutions provide a win-win for businesses and their employees. Overall, organizations that empower talent to be productive from anywhere, and provide the secure, safe, and private means to collaborate with confidence will create environments in which we can do our best work.

Related: Leading Your Team Remotely: The How-To

Sam Tayan

Managing Director at Zoom in the Middle East and Africa

Sam Tayan is the Managing Director at Zoom in the Middle East and Africa. 

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