Rethinking hybrid work: Why we need an individualised approach for the long run - The EE

Rethinking hybrid work: Why we need an individualised approach for the long run

The best of both worlds. A terrific blend of the benefits of being in the office and working from home. The future of work, says Matt Rumins, European head of customer success at Intradiem.

That’s what hybrid work was supposed to be. What it has actually turned out to be is a juggling act of multiple workplaces and no particular place to hang your hat. Working hybrid means constantly dealing with poor in-person office work conditions, frustrating commutes and a tax on workers’ mental health, among other concerns.

It’s simply exhausting

Many people are finding hybrid work to be physically and emotionally draining; 80% feel more exhausted when compared to fully remote and find it more burdensome than full-time, office-based work. Meanwhile, over 40% of senior staff say they also struggle to manage workers remotely.

Hybrid work has reached a tipping point no longer sustainable for either workers or their employers. If we continue this trajectory, business leaders risk disengaging, alienating, or even worse, losing employees. 

So, where do we go from here? 

Transforming hybrid work with technology

Data suggests that most hybrid work models are flawed. One of the biggest problems is miscommunication. With hybrid, it can be difficult to stay connected with colleagues who are not physically there in the room, leading to misunderstandings and missed opportunities. 

It’s time to think digital. It’s time for business leaders to reevaluate work structures and invest in tools and resources that provide support and enable employees to work more efficiently in digital settings, regardless of their location. 

Technology holds the key 

Leveraging automation can tip the scales of hybrid work in the right direction and help overcome the challenge of miscommunication. With the right technology in place, for example, a contact centre manager can receive a prompt straight to their computer, reminding them to check on an agent who may be spending an unusually long time on a call. Even if the agent is working from home that day, the manager is still able to see if they’re OK and offer additional support in real time. 

In a hybrid environment, automation plays a vital role in aiding the development and well-being of the workforce. In fact, it’s already helped 91% of remote workers improve their work-life balance. Business leaders can use automation to offer timely support, improve employee well-being, identify skill development opportunities, and distribute workloads more effectively to improve efficiency, all while maintaining open lines of communication. 

Simply put, the right technology can supercharge performance. This holds particular significance in the hybrid model, where cloud-based and scalable technology assures a seamless work experience regardless of whether teams or individual employees are stationed at home, in the office, or switch between the two. 

Intelligent automation technology provides a uniform experience irrespective of where employees are situated. This enhances flexibility and also places a premium on training and coaching, offering essential support for employees to perform at their peak. 

Putting people first 

How managers handle their teams has changed, and technology is a big part of that shift. Managers now depend on technology to communicate with geographically dispersed teams, allowing them to maintain relationships and continue to have the spontaneous, informal conversations that help workers feel that they’re supported and valued. 

Imagine a remote worker who often gets engrossed in their work and forgets to take regular breaks. Or a customer service team that handles a high volume of enquiries through various channels such as email, phone and social media. Intelligent automated systems can alert employees to take personalised well-being breaks or notify managers to check on those who have worked consistently for prolonged periods, opening the doors to a better work-life balance for all. 

Undoubtedly, employee management has been reshaped by the advent of hybrid working. Success now relies on being proactive. Team leaders need to maintain strong connections, monitor well-being, and employ innovative technology to stay in tune with their teams. 

Now more than ever, we need business leaders to design hybrid work arrangements around technology that facilitates their ability to address the human concerns of their employees, not just business concerns. And if you don’t think hybrid models work, you’re probably still fixated on location. Research reveals that location-centric work models, with rigid on-site requirements, are ineffective, while a hybrid-flexible model, built with technology in mind which allows employees to choose where they work from, proves to be more successful for all.

The future is hybrid the right way 

Matt Rumins

The future of hybrid work lies in thoughtfully leveraging technology that truly benefits both employees and employers. Automation can better support us all, redefining work and creating opportunities for growth. It can improve communication and empower leaders to create a thriving work environment in which employees’ location doesn’t diminish their effectiveness. 

It’s time we ditch the cookie-cutter approach of previous hybrid models. With a people-first mindset paired the power of intelligent automation, business leaders can pave the way for a sustainable and successful future, and create a harmonious balance between employee well-being and productivity.

The author is Matt Rumins, European head of customer success at Intradiem.

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