No matter how you look at it, creating memorable experiences for employees and customers is table stakes for success, growth, and staying competitive. As your business plans for the future, robust hybrid workplace technologies will be critical in reconnecting with the people most important to you.

To ease your transition to a modern hybrid workforce, we’ll dive into: 

  • What a hybrid workplace is 
  • Types of technologies to consider
  • Examples of hybrid work models
  • How Meraki can support your technology needs

Let’s do this. 

What is hybrid work?

First things first—hybrid simply means the mixture of two different things, whether that’s hybrid cars (electric motor + gas engine) or even ligers (tigers x lions). 

A hybrid workplace is where a mixture of remote workers and in-person workers meet. It mainly comes down to flexibility on where, when, and how your employees work. 

At Cisco Meraki, we’re transitioning permanently to a hybrid workforce: some remote workers, some in-office workers, others who split their time between the office and home—all of us connected by technology to work from anywhere. 

As digital and physical experiences converge, with great flexibility comes great responsibility. Looking after people’s well-being and health while preserving a location-agnostic company are additional dimensions that, with the right technology, can help you fuel people’s happiness. 

This opens up exciting opportunities to create flexible hybrid workplace experiences with innovative technology underpinning your transformation. 

Types of hybrid workplace technologies

Which types of hybrid workplace technologies need to be considered to foster collaboration, communication, and engagement? 

Below are seven hybrid workplace technology categories we recommend: 

1. Security: Strong cybersecurity, privacy, and trust practices that cut across all workplace technologies are an imperative to protect your business and people from online threats and risks, wherever they work. With small businesses being affected by 62% of cyberattacks that cost $1.2M on average, a lack of online defense systems can lead to devastating losses that stifle growth. 

Examples: firewalls, endpoint and VPN security, password security, and email security

2. Collaboration: Customer innovation happens best when teams are in sync and able to connect freely. Team collaboration tools can cover a wide range of needs, from online whiteboarding to real-time document collaboration. Look for solutions that let you simplify and digitalize your tools and work for everyone. 

Examples: document sharing (Google Docs, Microsoft Office Online), file sharing (Dropbox), project management (Asana, Trello), and virtual whiteboarding (Webex)

3. Communication: In an environment where work from anywhere happens, video communication is integral to engagement. To level communication fields across in-office and work-from-home, look for video conferencing tools that best mirror in-person experiences. Additional tools to streamline operations include instant messaging and email. 

Examples: Webex and Webex Teams

4. Safety: Physical security is key for protecting staff and customers on-site. To provide safe experiences for everyone, tools such as security cameras and sensors can help you monitor the environment, maintain health compliance, and get new AI/ML insights on your surroundings. 

Examples: security cameras and environmental sensors  

5. Smart offices: Creating innovative and efficient offices of tomorrow starts with smart workplace technology. Opt for tools that leverage IoT and analytics to enable unique use cases tailored to the people you serve. The possibilities are endless: space management tools, facial and voice recognition systems, smart energy solutions, and more.

Examples: smart security, face mask detection, hot-desking, and smart cleaning 

6. Customer engagement: For the bread and butter of your business, there’s a wide open canvas to redefine customer excellence with smart workplace technologies. Invest in IoT solutions that offer flexibility, automation, and insight with motion detection, Bluetooth?, infrared, and more to help you improve customer experiences. 

Examples: contactless guest check-in, counterless payments, and in-store virtual assistance

7. People analytics: With so many different workplace technologies and tools, there’s plenty of insight you can use for the betterment of your employees’ well-being and productivity, and for increasing customer retention and loyalty. Take action by gleaning data from preferred employee collaboration tools to how people move around your physical spaces.  

Examples: video analytics, safe occupancy, optimized product displays, and branded Wi-Fi pages

The hybrid workplace model

As each company’s needs and the needs of their individual staff vary, there’s no single hybrid workplace model that works for every small business. 

Let’s look at three common structures for a hybrid work model:  

1. Remote-centric hybrid: A remote-centric model is where employees mainly work remotely, but some teams may be required to be fully or partially in-office. It tends to model a fully remote company by digitalizing communication and collaboration tools to accommodate employees in varying time zones. 

2. Hybrid remote office: A remote office hybrid workplace model is one where employees have flexibility to choose the days they want to be in the office. Having some guidelines can create more predictability for team members to be in-office on the same days to enhance collaboration. 

For example, RRMM Architects, a leading architecture firm in Virginia with 125+ employees, has been experimenting with a hybrid work model where people alternate being in the office different days of the week: 

  • Group A: in-office Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
  • Group B: in-office Tuesday and Thursday 

Group A and Group B then flip their in-office days the next week, allowing for more flexibility.

3. Office-centric hybrid: An office-centric hybrid work model is one where employees primarily work from the office, but there may be some flexibility to work remotely a few days each week. The technologies, tools, and processes will slant more toward in-office work vs. accommodating remote workers. 

Implementing the right technology to support any type of hybrid work can provide unrivaled, consistent experiences, making it easier for you to reconnect with the people who matter most.

How Meraki can help

As you think about your hybrid work technology needs, let’s look at a small-office example powered by Meraki. We’ll follow two employees on a Monday: 

Mike: IT admin, in-office 

Kate: Sales Director, at home

  • 8:00 am: Kate connects to a work VPN from her home teleworker gateway device to access company tools for a weekly team Webex call. She authenticates her log in via her mobile device using their mobile device management solution. 
  • 8:45 am: Mike enters the office, passing by the MV smart cameras which detect people and vehicles, and can anonymously count people to help ensure safe occupancy. 
  • 9:00 am: Mike checks the Meraki dashboard for security alerts of unusual activity over the weekend from their MX security and SD-WAN devices. 
  • 12:00 pm: Kate hits error messages when trying to send email or connect to VPN. She posts urgently in the Webex IT channel as she has a 1:00 pm client call. Mike triages from the Meraki dashboard. Turns out, Kate just needed to update the VPN authentication settings with her new password. 
  • 4:00 pm: Booya! Mike officially launches their MV camera integration with PlaceOS. It’ll keep employees like Kate and visitors safer, and save his team time by automating workflows—from wayfinding to desk booking to smart cleaning. 

That’s just a glimpse of the power our cloud-first networking technologies provide as you build a foundation of tools to reconnect and thrive. 

Download our Small Business Reconnecting Guide for more ideas on how Meraki technologies can help strengthen your current and future employee and customer relationships.