The COVID-19 pandemic motivated enterprises to adopt new approaches for operating in a “hybrid office.” There’s been much discussion about the concept of the hybrid office — what it is and how the pandemic and other business trends are driving its emergence. But there is little guidance on how to effectively manage a hybrid office.
A key characteristic of a hybrid office is that it relies on an office services support team, as well as automated workflow processes and technology solutions, to enable employees to work efficiently either in the office or remotely. Employees need support wherever they are, especially during times when the business environment is in flux and there are many unknowns. This article identifies several key strategies that can help support your remote workforce with a special focus on safety, flexibility, adaptability, and efficiency.
An accelerated use of technology
Many companies either began or ramped up their digital transformation efforts in recent years, including an accelerated use of technology in these transformations. For example, mobile applications give users the ability to submit and track their work-related requests, or track the status of business documents in transit, anywhere, anytime. Digital mail processing services provide businesses with electronic versions of hard copy and soft copy documents that can be easily accessed when business needs arise. Digital intake center services— hybrid mailroom and scanning services — unify converted physical mail and email into a common digital format. These documents can be delivered to employees, departments, or enterprise content management workflow to optimize document delivery and reduce the time required to access information.
Another approach gaining traction is online portal-based and cloud-based systems that are used to create, distribute, and store documents. These are often referred to as document management systems, and they are expected to gradually eliminate paper files. According to a recent report by Mordor Intelligence, the global document management system market was valued at $4.89 billion in 2019. By 2025, it’s expected to reach $10.17 billion, a compound annual growth rate of more than 13% in just five years.
Benefits of outside assistance
To fully benefit from the power of these and other technology solutions, companies are increasingly seeking outside assistance. Almost every industry is experiencing a massive shift from office-based activities to a combined onsite and work-from-home strategy. This trend is likely to be the predominant approach for some time to come. That is why it’s essential to partner with expert managed services providers that can support onsite and virtual office operations. The right partner can also help you create and deploy best practices, which can be a crucial element when you are transforming past or current business processes. As you consider this partnership, it’s important to know what you should look for in a managed services provider.
Three key attributes to consider
Based on years of experience working with some of the nation’s biggest corporations, I’ve highlighted a few key attributes that companies should focus on when engaging a managed services provider:
1. Financial stability. Financially stable service providers can invest in developing the subject matter experts crucial to providing their business clients with top-quality consulting, implementation, and other services. Financial stability also allows service providers to invest in training and developing outsourced support services employees. These employees can be deployed onsite, offsite, offshore or in any combination to support your operations with solutions ranging from document scanning and print/mail center management to discovery services and more.
2. A holistic approach. Organizations often need a managed services partner that can provide more than just labor. The most effective partners use a holistic approach that spans people, processes, analytics, and technology. Business transformation requires a complex orchestration of critical factors: the right people using the right technology to advance the right business processes at the right time. Successful initiatives can drive costs down. Anything short of this holistic approach limits the ability to deliver the widespread support and maximum business value that companies need.
For example, it is a huge benefit if a services partner can deliver operational excellence by providing Six Sigma black belts to analyze current processes and develop a customized solution that can be delivered onsite, offsite, or offshore. Ideally, your partner understands the importance of your organization’s culture, collaboration, innovation, and the right technology when implementing a solution. This could mean saving money, paying invoices faster, reducing risk and more. Look for a provider that can also offer comprehensive transition plans, expertise in quality management methodologies and tools, and an integrated service delivery model that enables you to run your business processes more efficiently.
Strong quality management capabilities are also a critical part of the equation. The best providers have extensive expertise in quality management methodologies and tools. They can call upon trained professionals to monitor internal business processes to uncover and eliminate waste and defects as well as continuously improve performance.
3. Virtual and onsite expertise. The right partner should be able to integrate a range of services to support your workforce. This might include taking a holistic approach to office services that encompasses anticipating business support needs including mail, shipping and receiving, copy and print services, managing office and pantry supplies, office space turnovers, conference room services and printer equipment support.
Businesses at a crossroads
Business leaders across the country are at a crossroads, challenged by volatile market conditions, increased customer expectations, legacy systems with limited capabilities and a sense of urgency to digitally transform business processes to survive this challenging business environment. What seems certain for at least the short term is that to succeed, businesses need to leverage new approaches and adopt some form of a hybrid office strategy. Doing so can help nurture a flexibility and resilience that can enable your company to thrive in the days, weeks, and months ahead.