Harnessing hybrid

Changes to the way in which employees want to work, collaborate and communicate has forced even the most traditionally upheld organisations to consider altering their working models.

For the most part, employee productivity levels have been maintained through remote working environments, and in some cases, even enhanced.

Studies show that 75 per cent of employees believe they are more productive when working remotely, due to reduced distractions.

The most relatable argument perhaps is the significant reduction in time spent commuting and traveling to meetings.

Thanks to virtual meeting platforms such as Microsoft Teams, reinvestment of this time saw productivity levels rocket.

Pair this with the new flexibility that often comes with remote working and suddenly you have a workforce that can (and plenty do) work from anywhere, at any time.

Working from home can lead to fewer breaks, shorter lunches or just longer hours.

However, the value of face-to-face interactions cannot be dismissed, and many businesses and employees have suffered at the lack of such.

One in five remote workers have also said they struggle with loneliness. Maintaining a team spirit and staff morale when colleagues are physically disconnected is no easy feat.

Generating new business, building relationships and nurturing customers is also difficult without in-person meetings.

Improving workforce productivity must never come at the cost of customer engagement, nor employee wellbeing.

This is where a hybrid approach comes in and 61 per cent of companies are shifting to hybrid working solutions to suit the post-pandemic age.

So, how do we remain connected in a hybrid working environment? How do we maintain high productivity levels, whilst nurturing both our employees and customers?

For us, it’s all about balance.

The acceleration of digital transformation paired with our continued rapid growth has brought to the surface areas of improvement to both customer and employee satisfaction.

Prior to the pandemic, the majority our staff were office-based, and all external meetings were held in-person.

The hybrid model we have since adopted ensures maximum value from balancing remote and office working, and meetings are a mixture of in-person and online.

None of this would be possible without our own adoption of technologies.

Nurturing employees

With employee empowerment high on the agenda, business leaders must take steps to not only listen, but act. This is especially true where skills gaps are a concern and employee retention rates must be nurtured.

As a business, we use Microsoft Teams Direct Routing as our phone system and virtual meeting platform.

Gone are the days of awkward small talk, reluctancy to ask for help via instant message and fear of talking over others in a virtual meeting environment, as the nation has become accustomed to socialising virtually.

We use Teams for internal communications which has significantly reduced the number of daily emails and allows for informal socialising both within and across departments.

Each meeting room in our offices is fitted with Teams Rooms Kits, providing quality visuals and sound in a professional environment.

Teams Rooms are a fantastic use of space for internal meetings, client calls and for meeting with prospects.

We host weekly, company-wide “end of week catch ups” every Friday afternoon. Hosted by our CEO with updates from each Head of Department, this meeting allows for total transparency of business plans and updates.

This is a prime example of how we use technology as not only an effective communication tool, but a means of connecting and motivating colleagues, boosting morale and instilling company culture.

With seven offices across the UK, collaboration has always been a priority for us, but has certainly ramped up over the last couple of years.

SharePoint Hub allows colleagues across several locations to work together on shared documents from any device, anywhere.

This cloud-based application provides a secure working environment with added features such as version history, shared links, notifications and comments, and more.

That being said, face-to-face communication still holds value and across the business, employees are required to be in the office two or three days a week.

Managers encourage their teams to work from the office on the same days to encourage team collaboration, sharing of best practice and to solidify relationships – this has become increasingly important as we continue to welcome new starters to the team.

Nurturing customers

Account meetings are now a mixture of in-person and online, depending on the needs of each client and the service level agreement (SLA) in place.

We have invested heavily in the development of our in-house client portal service, Supportal, which gives real-time updates on the status of a project or case, information of planned work, finance and invoice details, and the ability to log a support ticket online.

Our personal approach to business remains and we continue to encourage customers to phone us in the first instance.

We believe speaking to a real human, rather than an automated machine or chatbot is not only far less frustrating but has a positive impact on our customer feedback, retention rates and is also hugely beneficial for our staff too.

But of course, we use technology to enhance this process too. Our highly innovative call centre software helps to manage a significant number of calls efficiently. The system operates a virtual queuing feature that offers an automatic call back should users not wish to hold the line during busy periods.

Customers are immediately routed through to the specific team that looks after their business and, if a case is already open, will be automatically diverted to the individual engineer responsible for that specific case.

We are investing heavily in automation, with a specific focus on labour intensive tasks such as reporting.

Tools such as Microsoft Power BI, Power Automate and our in-house, bespoke software OneDesk automate accurate reports and give real-time data insights, allowing our employees to focus on the all-important human-centric roles.

In summary, here at razorblue our working style has always been ‘hybrid’ in the sense that we make use of new technology to support the service that we provide. The pandemic gave us the opportunity to harness the true power of the systems we had in place, maximise their efficiency and switch from onsite to remote working quite literally overnight without impacting on our customers.

Now, we are enjoying capitalising on the benefits of these systems to the maximum while also being a ‘real life’ case study for our own customers – the road to hybrid working and digital transformation is ready and waiting.