A recent Cisco survey suggests that 98% of businesses expect to return to the office with a mix of in-office, mobile, and remote work – what is being called “hybrid” work. See more about hybrid work here.
To support effective hybrid work and get staff and facilities running quickly and safely, consider the use of collaboration profiles to:
- Build and execute your “return-to-office” plan
- Provide more transparent hybrid work policies
- Optimize use of spaces, equipment, and technology
Profiles create a scalable and structured way to bring your unique collaboration needs into office spaces, equipment choices, and HR policy options. More importantly, profiles can enable IT leaders to quickly adapt to changing hybrid work preferences and changing public policy guidelines.
Given the substance of this topic, we present this blog in a two-part series.
- This first post is focused on the construction and refinement of your collaboration profile and how to make them actionable with relevant traits.
- The second post, featured here (link), is focused on mapping collaboration profiles to your organization(s), gear, and physical spaces.
At the conclusion of this series, you should be prepared to construct your own collaboration profile and consider how prepared your organization is for return-to-office with a hybrid workforce. If this process involves more effort than you or your staff have cycles to take on, consider contacting your Cisco collaboration reseller. Many are highly experienced in helping firms build out such profiles and structure how they manage collaboration practices.
Develop Collaboration Profiles
A collaboration profile reflects common patterns of employee collaboration. The profile describes where and how someone works. Key attributes are location, equipment, and services. Profiles are used to roll out hybrid work environments or unified communications. They can also be used for generally coordinating communications needs. A basic set of profiles are shown below in Table 1:
Table 1: Basic hybrid-work collaboration personas or profiles
|Hybrid Profile||Work Venue and Preferences|
|Office Worker||Mostly in-office at desk & meeting spaces with equipment optimized for desk-work|
|Remote Worker||Mix of home office, in-office desk and meeting spaces with more mobile-oriented gear|
|Mobile Worker||Mix of on-the-go, home office, and in-office desk and meeting spaces with mobile gear|
|Frontline Worker||On-site common areas, retail, storeroom, and warehouse spaces using shared gear|
These profiles are made “actionable” when traits are assigned. Traits can include quantitative and qualitative measures of where, when, and how employees expect to work. A firm can add their own unique traits for their unique collaboration needs, how they envision hybrid work, and any specific ways they plan to manage their workforce.
Populate Profiles with Collaboration Traits
For the four profiles, we offer starting traits to consider in Table 2 below. These help IT planners and facilities managers with estimating space needs and collaboration procurement. We start with four defining traits and show how these help leaders in planning their needs:
Table 2: Suggested profile traits and how they help planners estimate collaboration needs
|Collaboration Traits||How These Help|
|(1) Time spent in-office (%)||Estimate named, hotel / hot-desk, and area space needs|
|(2) Time spent in-office, in meetings (%)||Estimate huddle room and conference room needs|
|(3) Preferred combination of gear||Estimate gear and cloud services needs|
|(4) Preferred work venues||Combine with (2) to estimate mix of different collaboration space needs (huddle rooms vs. conference rooms vs. informal spaces)|
Build an Actionable Model for Hybrid Work
Traits can now be added to your four profiles to create your model for hybrid work. In table 3 below, we have estimated some figures to populate the traits for each of the four profiles. These estimates serve as placeholders only. A firm should expect to come up with their own estimates to suit their own needs and purposes.
Table 3: Collab profiles with populated traits create a working model for IT planners
|Profiles \ Traits||In-Office||In-Office Meetings||Preferred Gear Combo||Preferred Work Venues (In Order)|
|Office Worker||95%||30%||Laptop, Desk Phone, Headset, Mobile App||Named Desk, Huddle Space, Conference Room|
|Remote Worker||65%||35%||Laptop, Headset, Business Mobile, 2nd Screen||Hoteling Desk, Home Office, Huddle Space, Conference Room|
|Mobile Worker||15%||10%||Business Mobile, Laptop, Headset, 2nd Screen||On-the-Go, Home Office, Conference Room, Huddle Space|
|Frontline Worker||95%||5%||WLAN Wireless Device, Area Phone, Mobile App||Shop / Retail Floor, Back Room, Warehouse Floor|
With collab profiles populated, IT planners and company leaders have much of what is needed to begin estimating their communications space and equipment needs. In some cases, firms may want to take their return to the office planning a step further. To work through more sophisticated scenarios, and to tackle a wider set of challenges, planners may want to build a set of complete collaboration personas.
Collaboration Profiles and End-User Personas
A collaboration persona provides some additional context to a collaboration profile and might include use cases, example job roles or titles, privacy needs, and demographics. See this link to a blog post on a Cisco developed Knowledge Worker persona.
Businesses may have already developed employee personas for collaboration or other purposes. For more information about developing profiles, see this interesting blog post from Ricoh on their development of end-user personas to address remote work:
An interesting set of 5 personas were developed by strategic consultancy Grail Insights to help firms “prepare for a forever changed workforce.” If planners prefer to work with a set of personas like these, they may include profile traits directly into the persona characteristics or simply assign a collaboration profile to each of the personas.
We have demonstrated how this is done with the 5 Grail Insight personas below in table 2. We use the Grail Insights provided descriptions and have assigned hybrid work profiles.
Table 4: Gain Insight “Forever Changed Workforce” personas: mapping to hybrid collaboration profiles
|Persona||Overview description of Persona Description (from Gain Insight content)||Profile|
|Office Oracle||A married Gen X employee in a senior executive role. Plays tennis. Watches cable TV. Has grown children. Recently bought a boat.||Office Worker|
|WFH Native||A Millennial mid-level employee. City dweller. Avid traveler (pre-COVID). Career-minded. Has a plan, but plans change. Loves their dog. Probably a rescue.||Mobile Worker|
|Newbie||Freshly-minted Gen Z graduate, sharing an apartment with friends. A gadget lover. Plays video games. Goes out on weekends (pre COVID).||Office Worker|
|Juggler||A Millennial with three kids at home. Married to a busy entrepreneur. PTA parent. Home chef. Wine lover (ya know, kids).||Remote Worker|
|Artist||A Gen X employee, married with one child. Homebody. Paints, draws, gardens. Dreams of opening a design firm.||Office Worker|
Note 1: For full persona descriptions (1 page each), please see the following link Note 2: These personas address knowledge workers and do not include Frontline profiles.
At the midpoint of this 2-part blog series, I think a quick peek to the end might be helpful and encourage you to read part 2 of this blog. Think about one of your employees preparing to return to the office or starting back to the office but working under a new set of safety guidelines. Now, picture the training session you rollout to your sites about “new ways of working” with the theme of “what we learned from the remote work period.” And consider a 2021 PwC survey where 74% of employees want flexible remote work options to continue – that most of your employees will be very excited about more flexible work options.
During this training session, IT planners and company leadership discuss new office layouts, some more flexible options for how much time employees prefer to come into the office, and how new collaboration spaces and hoteling desks support a wider array of work preferences. Go one step further and think about the display with 3 or 4 different equipment packages, now available to workers with state-of-the-art devices and purposeful applications.
In many ways, many employees should see solutions to problems that they did not know they even had. For more savvy users, it should be the first step in an ongoing dialogue to help different types of employees collaborate in ways that benefits each individual and the collective productivity of the business.