Hybrid work: Get set to thrive in 2022 and beyond 

by Sarah Chatterton


We analysed the benefits of hybrid work and what needs to change to make it a success.  

Establishing stable ground in a world still adapting to the effects of the pandemic is no easy feat. With a plan to adopt long-term hybrid work at the forefront for most businesses, few have clear direction on how to navigate this to optimum effect. A lack of historical evidence of how to operate this setup successfully means that to move forward, businesses everywhere are acting as the guinea pigs in a hybrid work experiment.   


Resignations from unhappy employees are rising in businesses that fail to provide flexible solutions. Given that employees are voting with their feet, businesses have no choice but to listen and find out what motivates them. And as hybrid working becomes the new normal, there are fresh, unnavigated areas of business operations and employee satisfaction for managers to stay aligned on.   


But what effect is hybrid work having on businesses already, and how can it be implemented better? To help establish the current state of hybrid work and what actions can be taken to improve it, we conducted a pulse survey with 400 manager and senior-level employees. 


Our research shows that business leaders should listen to employee voices; what they are hoping to get out of their new setup, and the role workplace technology plays in making that setup effective.   


Hybrid work now: the benefits and the emerging pitfalls  

For employees, hybrid work offers stand-out benefits such as greater work-life balance and more room for creativity. So, unsurprisingly, a hybrid work solution is proving to be effective for employee retention. However, with this increased flexibility, adequate collaboration between disparate areas of the business is required – and some employees need better tools to thrive.  


As we discovered in our recent Smartsheet Sessions series, there are no easy answers. Just under a third (27%) of respondents in our survey said that they were neutral or not satisfied with virtual collaboration tools in their workplace. To optimise the potential of hybrid work, solutions need to include the appropriate software for employees working from multiple locations.   


Of course, it’s not only employee satisfaction that matters, with security also being a prevailing problem in the hybrid working world. Around a third (30%) of respondents agree that employees in their company circumvent security procedures when sharing files. The pressing issue now is that managers must juggle the rising demands and expectations of employees, with the need to maintain a secure and efficient workplace.    


Effective collaboration is key  

Adjusting to remote work, and then to hybrid work, has meant that collaboration between teams has been lacking, with 72% saying their teams feel more siloed since leaving the office full time. With collaboration playing such an integral part in making hybrid work work, there should be a focus on guaranteeing teams have ample technology resources needed to do this.   


Collaboration is at the core of all successful hybrid work, with 41% of employees saying that having a digital collaboration platform is important. Challenges affecting the dynamics of how we work together mean it is crucial for businesses to have seamless collaboration systems in place.  


Of course, there are many other factors that contribute to effective collaboration. Business leaders should ensure that their hybrid work strategies involve diversity of teams and adequate conscious skills training for employees. Adding to that, our research found that 35% of respondents value the right messaging platform as a factor in successful hybrid work collaboration, with 30% saying appropriate training is also important. 


Establishing the quality of current outputs  

The wave of hybrid working can’t be reversed – but is the way that we’re working currently leading to better or worse work outputs? When building a foundation for strong hybrid work, business leaders need to look at what they are doing now, and what effect it is having.   


From our research findings, just under half (49%) of people think that the quality of their team’s output has changed positively during hybrid working. The near equal divide in opinion on hybrid work’s effectiveness so far shows that we’re on the right path – but that there is room for improvement. Building a stronger, more fool-proof solution is a way for businesses to expand the benefits hybrid work has for quality outputs.  


Balancing employee needs with business parameters  

When the world of working changed suddenly, it created a more urgent need for developing channels for employee voice. Business leaders need to pay attention to what’s being said when establishing their hybrid solutions to make the process collaborative. There’s a real need for empathy with employees, but any solution must also stay in line with the parameters of the business.   


Business leaders could be doing a lot more to keep employees in the know about how they are going to be working. Managers outlining real plans for hybrid work creates a more transparent environment for employees, with 81% thinking their employer could be clearer about working strategies. It’s important to keep employees updated on what is expected as the business adapts, and to listen to their needs regarding work processes for teams.


With work management processes like file sharing, virtual collaboration, and timelines, younger employees generally seem to be very satisfied with how things are moving forward. Older worker demographics, on the other hand, appear only somewhat satisfied.  


A more interconnected hybrid solution   

Clearly, there’s a plethora of needs for businesses to understand and respond to before creating a solution that works. But the need to get hybrid work right shouldn’t be understated, so it’s worth taking the time to invest in tools and strategies now to set up for a successful future. With Smartsheet, businesses can optimise their hybrid work strategies to ensure employees have everything they need to thrive.   


Seamless communication. Smartsheet’s cloud-based functions allow all areas of a business to stay aligned on projects, continuously access real-time data, and stay updated on scheduling.   


A centralised system. As a single source of truth, Smartsheet provides oversight and unites siloed chains of a business.  

Control over resources. Smartsheet’s Resource Management feature empowers guided decisions over recruitment, payroll, and resource planning.