Undeniably, many working lives completely transformed over the past two years. People that had never had the chance to work from home before, suddenly were given a taste of what it was like. Now the genie is out of the bottle, it’s no surprise that the majority of employees want to continue working with this level of flexibility in their lives, says Judith Hogan, senior director for EMEA at Poly.
In fact, research shows that 82% of employees seek to spend at least one day a week working from home in the future, with 54% planning to split their time evenly between office and home. At the same time, 64% of employees think the pandemic and home working has caused work culture to change forever.
With hybrid working being the new norm, organisations need to think about how they can motivate their teams and equip them with the right technology and policies that will ensure that they can work effectively, while continuing to maintain a healthy organisational culture. But how can employers get it right? And more importantly, what could they lose and gain, and how will it affect company culture, wellness, and productivity?
Debunking the productivity myth
There is a perception that hybrid working can negatively impact performance. For instance, people could be distracted by their friends or family when working from their own homes. However, our survey of global business leaders shows that embracing hybrid work actually yields positive results, with 72% of organisations seeing an increase in productivity.
Working from home can increase productivity as often people can work effectively in the peace and quiet of their homes, compared to a noisy office. At the same time, time savings gained from fewer commutes and less travelling to and from meetings have generated more availability for meaningful collaboration with colleagues, and clients, moving projects and planning forwards. In addition, increased productivity could also be attributed to feelings of wellness.
For some people, going for a run in the morning or walking the dog really clears their head, more so than a train journey or a long drive. Spending more time at home also means more quality time together: people can sleep in longer; children get more attention from parents and life becomes less of a race to get to work or out the door for the school run. Happy people make productive employees, so it’s important companies strive to maintain wellness and offer flexible working policies that support them.
Putting people first
Getting hybrid working right can be a delicate balance that requires caution and clarity. With many people now choosing to work from home, the lines of traditional working hours have become blurred. Due to this, there is a risk that people could feel that they need to be constantly connected, leading to burnout and overworking. In fact, almost half (49%) of organisations said that there is an unhealthy culture of overworking among their workforce that they must put a stop to. But despite companies acknowledging this, only 51% have actually taken steps to avoid it.
The pandemic has proven that it’s time to put people firmly at the centre of all decision-making that affects company culture and wellness. Over 75% of business leaders said it forced them to get smarter about how they use space, people, and technology. Whereas company experts from facility management, HR, and IT previously worked in silos, they are now coming together to create optimum hybrid working solutions. They’ve realised there have to be incentives for employees to go back into the office and enjoy working from there, while also ensuring that people who work remotely enjoy equal collaboration experiences.
Matching technology to employees’ needs
By creating new employee experiences, companies can bring together culture, wellness and productivity in a way that hasn’t existed previously. Free breakfasts and a prestigious address in a city centre are no longer sufficient. Employees have had a taste of other forms of wellness through greater flexibility that better suit their personal interests and lives. To make hybrid working a long-term success, employees need to be able to connect and collaborate with colleagues clearly and easily from any location, without being hindered by poor technology and unreliable devices.
One way that organisations can succeed at this is by understanding each individual employee working style. Doing this will ensure they truly understand their needs and how they like to work. Organisations can then be sure they are matching technology and devices that will guarantee they can collaborate effectively from wherever they choose to work. For example, employees may be office collaborators who like to work in open office spaces and collaborate with other employees.
These individuals could benefit from noise-cancelling headsets to manage the noise in the spaces they like to work in. At the same time, employees could be flexible workers who are highly mobile and spend time in and out of the office. These individuals are likely to be okay with un-assigned seating since they spend more time in conference rooms. When supporting this group of people, organisations could look to include access to different video-enabled rooms and huddle spaces.
When employers empower their people to express their needs and work to their best ability, it drives deeper values like decision-making, inclusivity, and collaboration. And when companies create a people-first culture where they feel valued and included, they can drive better results because it’s more likely that employees will be more productive and take their roles and responsibilities more seriously.
As employers implement long-term hybrid working strategies, building and sustaining company culture has never been more critical. The organisations that put their people-first and offer improved employee experiences will be the ones that attract and retain the best talent. This, ultimately, will give them a competitive edge.
The author is Judith Hogan, senior director for EMEA at Poly.
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