When asked if employees should be in the office or able to work from home, thankfully many companies are responding “why not both?”
Although office and remote work both have pros and cons, in many cases they really can be better together. It’s true that some things just work better inside an office, like collaborating with your colleagues, communicating face-to-face, and team lunches/happy hours. And some things just work better from home, like finding the space to actually focus. According to Business News Daily, workers lose about 37 minutes a day to distractions in the office, but only 27 minutes at home?
A change of scenery can improve your productivity, so incorporating a hybrid model of working from home and the office seems like a win for everyone.
Aside from personal hybrid schedules, many companies are also embracing a hybrid model with some employees opting to always work from home, and others opting to always work in the office, which creates a hybrid team. Accommodating for all these styles of working has so many benefits, but requires a shift in thinking and some preparation. Of course digital tools, like Trello, can help a hybrid team work like it’s meant to and avoid hiccups.
Make Information Accessible From Anywhere
Working in an office means it was easy to post public announcements, go up to the person you wanted to talk to, or turn to the side and ask your desk mate where to find the information you needed. With some people in the office, it’s easy to forget that those who are still working from home might be struggling to get the information they need.
Replace your physical bulletin boards with Trello boards! Make a single place where everyone can stay up to date on any company-wide announcements, important upcoming dates, or other items of reference. Just like a physical whiteboard, make sure to be careful not to let this one get too cluttered.
Don’t stop with just a company-wide announcement board. If you have teams that get asked a lot of questions, create Trello boards that address the most common FAQs and also make it clear how to get in touch with the team (whether that’s a Slack channel or an email alias). These boards could also be used to help everyone see what other teams are working on. For instance, your HR team could create a board that shows major projects and FAQs, like this.
If you want to get fancy, you could even incorporate Zapier and set up a new card to be added to this board when someone emails human resources or fills out an inquiry form.
You may also need to create resources on “safe” hybrid working protocols. You can include this on a company bulletin board, or create a board dedicated to the subject with lists that show office re-openings (and associated dates), links for booking space at an office, when to come in and when to not (if you’re experiencing any symptoms). You could even create a board to show who is planning to be in the office on which days. (Keep reading for more details on how to create that board.)
Keep An Eye On Everything
When you’ve got some of your team working at home and some working in the office, you need a central repository to keep track of everything. You can’t just walk up to someone’s desk and ask about the status of a project.
Thanks to Trello’s new views, you’ve got a handful of ways to view all your projects and tasks in the way that is most helpful to you.
If you’re working with multiple boards on your team, the Table view can truly help you see everything in one place. No more having several boards up on different tabs in your browser and trying to see how they all fit together on your own.
You can quickly filter by all the cards across all your boards to see things like labels with “high priority items” or upcoming due dates, or cards assigned to specific members. This is a great way to monitor workloads to ensure your team members aren’t getting burnt out with too many projects coming up too soon.
You can even bookmark certain views if you want to be able to access them quickly.
Spend less time pulling numbers and more time looking at insights about your team. With the Dashboard view, you can quickly see stats about your board and visualize your cards to answer questions about your projects and manage your workload.
For instance, if you want to know what kind of projects are taking up the most work, you can look at a pie chart of your cards by labels.
You can also see how many cards you have in each list to quickly spot any bottlenecks or see if your teams might be getting too backlogged.
Timeline and Calendar views
Visualize your cards that have dates, and see which cards don’t.
It’s a great way to see if there are too many tasks overlapping at a certain time and help prevent employees from being overworked. It’s too easy to miss this when we’re not all in an office together seeing what we’re working on, so having a visual tool to show projects on a calendar makes these easier to organize.
Want to keep track of who is coming in the office and working remotely, you can create a board for that!
You can structure this a handful of ways, and there’s no right or wrong answer. Do what works for you! One way is to create lists for each week and create two cards for each working day. One that says “In Office” and another that says “WFH”. Add the date to the cards, and then encourage employees to add themselves to the card that fits what they’re planning to do for the day. Then voila, you can view who is working from home or in the office!
Alternatively, you could have each employee have their own card for each day and use a label for each date to show if they’re working in the office or from home. Don’t overcomplicate it—just try something out and iterate with your team.
Make Asynchronous Communication Easy
Many of us are used to walking up to someone’s desk and asking a question or setting up a meeting where we talk about a project. While this has its benefits, it becomes really difficult to do when you have people in so many different places and working at different times.
Aside from that, it’s just plain inefficient.
Instead, learning to communicate asynchronously means you don’t have to be online at the same time or take up meeting time to move a project forward. It’s key to successfully handling distributed workforces and requires brushing up on your written communication skills and putting in place tools, like Trello, that make asynchronous communication a breeze.
Use Trello for documenting notes, sharing project updates, asking questions, and anything else you would normally hop on a call to discuss. Word your question or statement as concise, yet thoroughly as you need to. Preempt any questions that might be asked by the reader by addressing those questions. Give a clear action for the next step, or an expected outcome based on this update you’re sharing.
Trello card descriptions are great for providing all the relevant context needed about an item, while the comments are perfect for adding updates as the task progresses.
As a hybrid team, you’ll likely notice that you have fewer meetings because different time zones or getting everyone available at the same time becomes harder, but this is a feature—not a bug. A lot of meetings aren’t necessary if you have a good process for documenting your updates and questions. The more comfortable you get with written communication, the more productive be and the easier it is for new team members to jump in and get up to speed.
You can even hold meetings asynchronously by creating agendas and having everyone add their notes and questions ahead of time.
Get in the habit of documenting what you’re doing. Organize notes and recordings from meetings that do happen so employees who aren’t present are able to catch up in one place.
While we often think it’s helpful to get people in the same place for a brainstorming meeting, you can replicate that asynchronously in Trello. If you have a problem you need to solve, create a board and define the problem and what you’re looking for help with brainstorming.
For instance, maybe you’re about to hire a new member for the team and want to create an excellent onboarding experience. Create a list for each member you’d invite to the meeting. Add them to the board and encourage them to create a card for each idea that comes to mind relating to the prompt. Set a due date for everyone to have their ideas in. Then enable the Voting Power-Up and let everyone read through each others’ ideas and vote on their favorites. This gives you a repository of ideas to work with and you can all work together to flesh out the best ones and take action.
Automate Your Admin Tasks To Let You Focus On Work
To make sure your team is able to focus on work instead of moving around Trello cards all the time, let Trello’s Butler automation do it for you!
Use Butler to create rules to assign team members certain tasks when a label or certain words in the title are added, or when they’re moved to a certain list. Work can be quickly sorted and assigned as it’s created and send notifications to the appropriate parties.
Show your employees that work-life balance is important by giving them the opportunity to extend due dates. Create a card button that automatically pushes out a due date by a couple working days if they need it.
Have activities that happen every day/week/month? Use Butler to automatically create those cards so they’re waiting for you when you need them. You can even incorporate checklists for those activities, too.
If you’re worried quality assurance is going to slip with people not all in the same room, create a rule to add a checklist whenever a card moves into a list so that you don’t miss any steps of the process.
If you need to connect with other tools, you’ll likely find Zapier and Trello integrations can help you out with other automation. Trello can easily plug into wherever your work is happening to make it easier and not add any overhead on admin tasks.
Let’s Get Hybrid!
The future of work is hybrid, so making sure your team is ready for this working style is important. Incorporating the right tools and processes for handling work from any location while keeping everyone on the same page will create a satisfactory work environment and also optimize your team’s productivity.
Good or bad, we’d love to hear your thoughts. Find us on Twitter (@trello)!