7 tips for better hybrid workplaces

Dean Hager, CEO of leading Apple device management vendor Jamf, shares some insights on how to design better hybrid workplaces.

Apple, Jamf, hybrid, remote, workplace, collaboration

While many employees are being frog-marched back to the office, future-focused companies continue to explore the opportunities remote working provides. In the Apple space, device management and security vendor Jamf has been enjoying a lot of success as it embraces new working practices.

Work is a choice, so make it a good one

Writing about how his company has approached the challenges of the new workplace over the last three years, Jamf CEO Dean Hager more or less observed that while the pandemic forced companies to move to remote fast, optimizing how it is done should be a continual process guided by employee empowerment and trust.

Hager believes in the approach because he’s seen the results at Jamf. Employee engagement is high and, just as in our daily lives, has become omnichannel, his company has grown, and employee retention exceeds 90%.

That success reflects the data, and not just at Jamf. Take Yelp, which found that 86% of its workers preferred remote to presence-based working and 87% said it made them more effective. Dropbox also famously benefits from remote work.

It won’t forever be a secret that those companies that saw the largest numbers of resignations over the last few years are those offering low employee trust and insisting on translating anachronistic presence-based management practices into the online world. (I’ve read enough reports to recognize that in so many cases the benefits of the hybrid workplace have been undermined by poor middle management.)

Trust means a focus on results, rather than on digitizing archaic approaches to presence. I can’t think of a single worker who would feel at all content with companies pointing a video camera on them when they are in their homes, and those who do will no doubt seek alternative employment. We seek flexibility.

Design digital workspaces

The Jamf CEO offered insights into how his company chose to meet these challenges. It wanted to design a hybrid work model that enhanced employee experiences while creating a range of digital connections (both official and informal) to help workers connect with each other.

How did the company approach this effort? I'm paraphrasing a little, but here's the gist of what he writes here.

  1. Your office is a service, not a destination

Rather than forcing workers to come to the office, Jamf changed the purpose of its office spaces to become resource centers for various tools and facilities employees didn’t keep at home.

  1. Digital communities are real communities

Hidebound office culture depends on presence. Employees build relationships within the workspace. Remote working provides a chance to build remote, asynchronous communities. To support this, Jamf invested time in creating channels for key company information, community, and communication guidelines. But it also invested in digital spaces in which people could swap stories and hobbies — the kind of connections we make daily in person offices. The mindful intention is to build environments for employees to engage with one another.

  1. Ask the experts (it’s not always the management)

Jamf also engaged with its teams when it was creating those new workplace models. In what Corel recommended as good practice, Jamf thought about how to go about this. Rather than take all the ideas from management, it relied on teams from across multiple departments to identify, develop, and explore new approaches.

  1. Get over your old selves

So many companies still seem enslaved to a mindset that in-person communication is more valuable than digital connections. Mitigating this anachronistic approach, Jamf worked to make digital connections as important as physical.

  1. Hybrid connections are still connections

Jamf moved to build a digital company culture designed to maintain feelings of connection between its teams. “It’s important for every person to find a community with their workplace,” Hager said. This extends to digital workplaces, of course.

  1. Humor, empathy and compassion matter

The company now holds weekly team meetings supplemented by organized digitally connected fun events like magic shows, silent discos, cooking classes. It also provides employee support and digital mentorship schemes. Particularly when teams were locked down, collective moments of shared fun made a difference to employee wellbeing — but these tools work just as well in asynchronous time.

  1. Trust is the biggest currency

Perhaps the key focus in the Jamf approach to hybrid work is trust. “By encouraging your teams to work how they work best, you can see improved efficiency, a more manageable work-life blend and talent growth within your company that extends around the globe,” writes Hager.

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Copyright © 2023 IDG Communications, Inc.

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