The hybrid workplace has become a leading discussion point across a broad spectrum of companies. In fact, Gartner predicts that 40% of organizations will offer a blend of virtual and physical work experiences by the end of 2023.
Tech companies and startups were among the leaders in adapting to remote work and collaborative business models when the pandemic struck. Now that workplaces are reopening, the hybrid model has taken hold more than anyone had expected. A Gallup survey of more than 140,000 U.S. workers in the U.S. for example, indicates that 53% expect a hybrid work environment going forward.
Yet many business owners are discovering that it is not enough to offer flexible work hours and videoconferencing tools to keep their workers connected. Employers need to understand that managing operations in 2022 and beyond will not return to the ‘business as usual’ of past years.
There have been growing concerns emerging around the trends of “Quiet Quitting” and “the Great Resignation” reflecting that a growing number of employees are either tuning out while on the job or quitting altogether. These are clear indicators that companies need to put time and effort into ensuring their employees remain happy and productive.
Research performed by HR solutions provider, Adecco Group, in partnership with the University of Zurich’s Center of Leadership in the Future of Work, indicates that nearly 70% of executives believe improving how employees feel at work leads to increased productivity and performance. Much of that comes down to building and sustaining a culture that engages all employees, regardless of where they are working. This has become extremely pressing at a time of skills shortages and increasingly vocal employees that are demanding a voice in how, when and where they want to work. The same Gallup survey mentioned earlier found that 46% of all respondents are willing to quit their jobs if they cannot work in a hybrid or fully remote model.
The essentials of what comprises a successful corporate culture have not changed. A strong culture is one that helps people connect with each other and to a shared sense of purpose. More fluid working arrangements, however, can make the process more challenging as employees may have less in-person face time with their peers as they move between locations, or work different hours or days on site. Many are still experiencing feelings of anxiety, isolation, and burnout, making it all that much more difficult to sustain a culture that drives results.
Employers need to develop a new set of strategies that engage and empower their employees. This can involve several aspects, not the least of which is developing immersive hybrid experiences. Managers can start by gaining deeper insight into how their people like to work. Take the time to understand everyone’s preferred workstyles and align them with the corporate culture.
From that input, start rethinking workflow and workspace design, with the understanding that things can change as workplace demands evolve. Then consider the technology tools and design elements that will enable collaboration, and content creation and sharing to optimize employee performance and satisfaction.
One of the most important technical areas to consider is the quality of virtual integration. Investments in the right collaboration tools will play a significant role in creating natural, lifelike interactions on screen. The good news is that these tools are more accessible than ever and include a wide range of features to meet the needs of every hybrid workplace.
Key elements of a successful virtual integration strategy include seamless connectivity (internally and externally), high resolution interactive displays, advanced whiteboarding software, high-definition videoconferencing screens, integrated web cams, and portable displays for employees on the go. Where possible, and depending on the type of interaction involved, employers may also designate meeting spaces to encourage collaboration.
As employers develop long-term plans to adapt to this new hybrid ecosystem, it is essential that the company culture remains at the heart of any decisions. Employers cannot afford to underestimate the importance of corporate culture when it comes to employee retention and engagement. A McKinsey report reveals that 70% of employees say their sense of purpose is defined by their work. Connecting employees to each other through a common purpose is integral to keeping them motivated and willing to stay around.