The transition to hybrid work puts a lot of pressure on organizations – having to support and align different ways of working, making sure remote and on-site teams are equally involved in key conversations, and building employee experiences relevant both in the physical and digital world.
These challenges put tech at the forefront of hybrid work adoption. For the last decade, companies owed their success to well-organized, easy-to-manage stacks – now, the tools leaders choose will make a yet bigger difference.
In this post, we will examine the types of hybrid and remote work tools team leaders need to comfortably settle into the new model and offer criteria operations managers can apply to market research.
The right hybrid and remote work tools are key to success but leaders don’t have the right combination
The remote layer of hybrid work comprises processes that happen exclusively online. Teams need to have the right tech for connecting with teammates, sharing updates, and tracking progress. However, statistics show that managers underestimate the value of project management and collaboration software – only 18% of leaders considered tech tools to be “very important” in remote work.
Most importantly, hybrid work introduces the need to align remote and on-site processes, introducing more organizational challenges – workplace visibility and equality, schedule management, and attendance monitoring.
Team leaders are slowly adding hybrid-work-focused tools to their stacks but employees are not happy with existing technology. According to Qualtrics, only 30% of employees thought that workplace tech exceeded their expectations. Microsoft data shows that 42% of remote workers don’t have an Internet connection powerful enough to support the tools employers advocate for.
At the same time, successfully implementing hybrid work tools is a game-changer in employee engagement and productivity. When supported by technology, hybrid employees are 230% more engaged.
After several months of experimenting with the new model, it’s clear that finding the right combination of tools to support teams is difficult but worthwhile.
Types of hybrid and remote work tools
The first step in choosing the right tools to empower hybrid work is to make sure the software the team uses solves specific challenges. Statistically, the key challenges hybrid team leaders face are:
- Stress and burnout – 80% of leaders believe that hybrid work will be more stressful than a full-remote or full-in-office model. Having to balance online and offline interactions can drive teams to burnout and get in the way of creating stable routines.
- Workplace equality. Remote employees are concerned about losing promotion opportunities and missing out on career-defining projects due to the proximity bias. Multiple studies confirm that people show more trust in those they see around – if so, office teams would have an unfair advantage.
- Collaboration and culture obstacles. Team leaders are concerned about effectively communicating their vision in a hybrid environment. Although hybrid organizations try to digitize all communication, 60% of employees still miss out on important ideas because they were discussed at the office.
An effective stack of hybrid work solutions should help address these and other challenges organizations face during the transition.
Our experience of supporting over 2,200 organizations through their journey shows that the following types of tools make the most impact:
1. Visibility and employee engagement tools
Low workplace visibility heavily contributes to proximity bias – as much as managers know remote teams are working, the inability to see and instantly connect with them reduces trust in work-from-home teams.
With no common space, teammates also struggle to unite for discussions, brainstorming, or knowledge sharing.
To solve the problem, leaders look for innovative tools that go beyond chat-based communication or one-time video conferencing. Virtual office spaces are a growing trend in hybrid work environments. These platforms create a common space for office and remote employees and give managers full visibility of the team.
Key features of visibility and employee engagement tools:
- Facilitated audio and video interactions
- Stability and ability to support a high number of concurrent users.
- Customization that allows team leaders to set up a space fully tailored to their workflows.
- Easy-to-use interface and straightforward navigation.
Examples of visibility tools: oVice: a virtual office platform for hybrid and remote teams of all sizes.
2. Attendance monitoring platforms
In teams with strict hybrid work policies, managers need to closely monitor office attendance. Technology can help streamline the process by showing detailed dashboards of employees’ in-office and remote workdays, time-off, and timesheets.
Attendance monitoring systems are centralized hubs with all attendance data – timesheets, requested vacation days, sick leaves, etc. These platforms give team leaders a clear understanding of how teams respond to hybrid work policies and help make data-driven decisions in hybrid work schedule policies.
3. File organization and storage software
Hybrid organizations have no physical center – in policies like “Work from anywhere” adopted by Airbnb, Spotify, and other workplace trailblazers, teammates are free to move at their convenience.
Full control over work schedules and locations makes organizations more attractive to employees and improves retention.
At the same time, centralized file storage and project documentation platforms are vital to flexible environments. By organizing all files in a unified system, leaders can eliminate bottlenecks and give remote and office teams space for sharing and reviewing assets.
Key features of file organization and storage systems:
- Cloud access: teammates shouldn’t be restricted from accessing the files they need by their devices or location.
- Granular security and access controls.
- Integrations with common productivity tools
- Support for collaborative editing
4. Project management tools
Progress tracking is another difficulty hybrid team leaders have to deal with. The new workplace model makes keeping tabs on projects more difficult since key decision-makers might not always be physically reachable.
Hybrid team leaders can streamline project management by minimizing the need to micromanage and providing teams with remote work tools for tracking their progress.
Since the start of the pandemic, the use of flagship project management platforms – Trello, Jira, Asana – has spiked. The trend will likely continue in hybrid workplaces as well considering the importance of straightforward change tracking.
Key features of effective project management tools:
- Planning, scheduling, and task management
- Customization that allows teammates to see the product timeline in their preferred view
- Shared access to project data
- Facilitated reporting: templates, dashboards, etc.
5. Employee onboarding and education platforms
Hybrid team leaders have to make sure that the onboarding opportunities they offer remote hires match those of the office team. That means managers have to be mindful of the challenges WFH employees face when joining a new project – stress, information overload, disconnect from the rest of the team or limited access to documents and resources.
Technology can help eliminate bottlenecks in virtual employee onboarding – hybrid team leaders use software tools to track onboarding progress, make the process more engaging, and create straightforward workflows for new hires.
Finding the right approach to introducing new hires will boost productivity and retention by 70% and 82% according to Glassdoor.
Key features of virtual onboarding management platforms:
- Pre-boarding: automated welcome email sequences, streamlined introduction content creation.
- Progress tracking and analytics dashboards
- Tools for communicating with new hires
- Intuitive interface and flat learning curve
5 steps to choose the right tools for your hybrid work stack
Identifiying the categories of tools the organization needs to successfully adopt hybrid work helps lay the groundwork for the stack. From that point on, managers typically hit the market and explore available solutions.
The collaboration platform market is booming right now so finding the right tool is difficult with no clear-cut selection criteria. To help managers find the software that meets their needs and drives growth, narrowed the process of shortlisting hybrid work tools down to 5 steps.
1. Define needs and objectives
Before you start comparing alternatives, be sure to have a clear understanding of what you want the tool to accomplish.
For example, if you are researching a virtual office platform, here are the goals the team might want to achieve:
- Create a space for all employees (including those from different departments)
- Connect new hires to the team
- Get in touch with clients in a virtual space
- Increase the engagement of team-building events
- Improve productivity
- Increase workplace visibility
Once you are clear on your needs, it’s easy to see which features would help the team accomplish its objectives: network stability, high space capacity, interactive elements, ease of communication, and others.
2. Have a list of must-have features for tools in each category
As they look through the types of hybrid and remote work tools to introduce to the workplace, managers should define the features the team needs to make the most of the platform and dealbreakers that would stop leaders from considering the solution. Here’s an example of both for tools in the categories described above (specific items can vary team-by-team).
|Types of solutions||Must-have features||Deal-breakers|
|Workplace visibility tools (virtual office platforms||Security|
High-quality audio and video
|Poor customer service |
No support for low-end devices
|Attendance monitoring platforms||Time tracking|
Office and remote schedule tracking
Integrations with calendars
|No cloud access |
No real-time reporting
No biometric authentication
|FIle storage platforms||Access control|
|No version control|
No collaborative features (real-time editing, commenting)
|Project management tools||Support for different project views: timeline, Kanban board, etc. Labeling Reporting||No mobile access No user roles management|
No resource tracking
|Virtual onboarding and education platforms||Built-in LMS|
Automated welcome email sequences
|Steep learning curve|
No personalized reporting
No payroll integrations
3. Focus on security
In hybrid companies, leaders don’t have full control over the security of connections and protection level of hardware teammates use for work. To make up for possible shortcomings, managers should choose teams who prioritize security.
Here are the signs that products take privacy and data protection seriously:
- The product has an ISO27001 certification
- The vendor’s website is GDPR-compliant
- The product team uses end-to-end encryption to protect in-app data
- Tools have robust access controls and password-protection
4. Choose platforms that offer assistance and customer support
Most organizations don’t have a fully mature approach to hybrid work. Their policies will likely change in the next months until they mold into a defined shape. That flexibility should be reflected in the choices you make about your tech stack.
When selecting vendors, prioritize those who run regular feedback sessions, are willing to add highly requested features to the product, and assist your team in implementing the software. This way, you will eliminate downtime and operational bottlenecks.
5. After you made a choice, run regular assessments of its effectiveness
Once you chose the remote work tools that will become part of the hybrid work stack, schedule regular review sessions to make sure the platforms are helping teams be more connected and productive, instead of passively draining the organization’s budget.
It is a good practice to document the issues your team faces with hybrid work tools and, every once in a while, run market research to look for alternative platforms that don’t have the same issues. For example, if your organization’s virtual office crashes at high traffic points, explore the market to find a platform that offers more stability.
The success of hybrid work models strongly depends on the technology team leaders choose to enable operations and align teams.
Understanding which operational areas your hybrid team is challenged by and finding the right tech to solve common problems will help leverage the benefits of the hybrid model and eliminate the drawbacks.
In our experience, we have seen how using a virtual office solves a range of problems: from workplace visibility to engagement and new hire retention. Our clients use virtual spaces to overcome the proximity bias and level the playing field for remote and office teams.