The virtual workspace has left many people wondering what their careers will look like. Will it transition back to in-person work, will they be remote, or will they transition to a hybrid workspace?
Now that offices are slowly reopening, companies are realizing that there are many key advantages to remote work that they, and their employees, don’t want to lose.
There are a ton of upsides to working remotely for both employees and companies. People don’t have to commute into the office, and they can lower their carbon footprint. They don’t have to tussle with office politics and can have more freedom in their role. Companies don’t have to pay rent as they would before, saving them a ton of money that can be redistributed.
One of the most popular alternatives to returning to fully in-person work is opting for a hybrid workspace. Whether you’ve been using them for a year or you are just learning how to use your hybrid workspace, there are a ton of tools that will be essential for every hybrid employee.
In this article, we’ll discuss the 6 best tools for hybrid teams and give a couple of examples of tools you should test out.
Flexible Online Whiteboards
Online whiteboards are the perfect tool for a hybrid workspace and enable your team to engage in meaningful collaboration from anywhere.
At Fresco, we define online whiteboards as “A shared, online workspace where teams can utilize visual elements in order to express ideas and collaborate together.”
Online whiteboards are the pinnacle of visual collaboration and can accommodate a plethora of different activities.
Your team can collaborate on a customer journey map, brainstorm how an idea will transition into a business on your own business model canvas, or you can simply run a weekly Kanban to ensure you are achieving consistent forward progress.
In our article about online whiteboards and the hybrid workspace, we detail the main advantages to implement them, and while we won’t go over them in full, we will briefly discuss why they’re so important.
Work From Anywhere
Being able to take your workspace wherever you are is the main purpose of a hybrid workspace, and online whiteboards allow you to take your collaborative workspace anywhere, including in the office.
Online whiteboards allow you to access and collaborate on your whiteboard wherever you are, and your entire team can do the same.
Digital permanence is a term we use when referring to an online whiteboard’s ability to retain information permanently. Traditionally, you can only refer to previous collaboration on a grainy picture or just from your own memory.
Online whiteboards, however, enable you to solidify the results of your collaboration or virtual workshop in digital permanence so that you will never lose that spark of brilliance again. It can always be accessed on the board and implemented into your workflow.
One of the biggest advantages of using an online whiteboard is being able to collaborate on an infinite canvas.
This is a massive advantage over traditional collaboration where you are restricted to the small amount of space on your whiteboard, and when using a digital whiteboard you can zoom in and out to create nearly unlimited space.
Being able to collaborate on an infinite whiteboard means you will rarely want to use a regular whiteboard again, and it’s perfect for the hybrid workspace.
These advantages make online whiteboards some of the most versatile and usable tools for remote teams everywhere and especially helpful when transitioning to a hybrid workspace.
Hybrid Video Conferencing
One of the staples of 2020 was the video call. It replaced both everyday meetings and long in-person workshops, and if you’re operating in a hybrid workspace, it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Zoom is the staple software for any virtual meetings and will surely be a part of your hybrid workspace. Zoom makes conducting both small and large meetings easier than ever and allows you to do them from anywhere.
After an up and down 2020 it’s hard to imagine the workspace without Zoom, and if you’re working in a hybrid workspace you certainly will be using this frequently.
SpatialChat is an innovative new conferencing software that takes a unique spin on video conferencing. It allows users to host rooms, which are essentially virtual spaces where you can gather and talk on a conference call.
Where SpatialChat creates unique value is in allowing people to move themselves around their virtual room to have smaller conversations within the larger group atmosphere.
This means that you can both have a large group meeting and also host smaller collaboration sessions in the same room. People can go back and forth between the different conversations by simply dragging their icon closer to one group of people or further away from another.
If you haven’t tried SpatialChat it’s a really cool twist on conferencing and could be a great addition to your hybrid workspace, even if it’s just for casual interactions.
Virtual Private Network – VPN
One of the biggest challenges of the virtual workspace is ensuring that your data is secure. When a large, or small, company is conducting all of their business online they want to make sure that their security is air-tight.
In a hybrid workspace, it’s even more important because there are a ton of different employees, all with their own internet connection and personal networks that could act as a new point of vulnerability.
As a business, investing in a firewall-protected virtual private network (VPN) is essential because it will protect your data from anywhere, regardless of if you’re working from home or in the office.
If you’re working in a field that requires a high level of data security, consider looking into a VPN and creating a security strategy for your team.
Project Management Tools
Product management tools are very important for product teams working either in-person or remotely, and for those teams operating in a hybrid workspace they are absolutely essential. Chisel is our favorite product management tool and has a ton of integral features.
Chisel allows you to build product roadmaps with unlimited user seats, feature management, and prioritization to help build the vision you want.
Chisel also has some unique features that allow you to conduct team alignment exercises with collaborative prioritization that includes the input of both your team and your stakeholders.
Additionally, you can include streamlined user surveys into your product plan, effectively engaging with your target market and meeting their customer needs.
If you are building a product and want to take your efficiency to the next level, definitely take a look at Chisel.
Instant Messaging Tools
It’s hard to imagine working in person through an instant messaging tool, but it’s even harder to imagine working remotely without one.
Slack is one of the most used remote work applications by user volume and enables its users to engage in real-time messaging, file management, and collaboration through quick and easy communication and tons of app integrations.
Slack is perfect for the hybrid workspace because, thanks to its integrations and slick communication, it feels like the next best thing to simply talking to someone in real life. You can easily break out conversations in the office from your messages and also integrate voice and video calls with your team.
If you weren’t already using slack in your remote workspace, now is the perfect time to jump on board.
Shared Cloud Storage
File storage is a big question mark for the hybrid workspace, and you simply can’t rely on individuals to keep these things in order. Using a shared cloud storage platform is perfect for the hybrid workspace and enables people to access files freely and collaboratively.
Google Drive is the most popular file storage platform and provides a centralized place where teams can create, edit, share, and collaborate on many different documents. They have excel spreadsheets, simple word documents, customizable presentations, and even more.
Google Drive is amazing because it can be accessed from anywhere, including your mobile device, and has a business version as well. The business version is built to accommodate large amounts of files and collaboration, and it’s a perfect addition to your hybrid workspace.
Dropbox is a similar tool to google drive but takes a slightly different spin. It is a great option if you want a mix of the versatility of google drive with a sprinkle of project management as well.
Dropbox Paper is a collaborative software that lets you plan projects and collaboratively edit their details with your team. This is an interesting spin on file management and is certainly worth a try if you’re looking for a new cloud storage solution.
We might not know exactly what the future has in store for the workplace, but we do know that whatever it is, we’ll be prepared. Hopefully, this guide has helped you understand some of the most important tools for the hybrid workspace and stay tuned to Fresco to continue learning about the future of online collaboration.