The COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns went into effect in spring 2020, forcing many of us throughout the UK to work remotely. Office workstations became laptops at the kitchen table, in-person meetings became video chats and wired networks became at-home Wi-Fi connections.
Given the magnitude of the change, IT and users alike adapted rapidly, and businesses were able to continue doing business quite easily. Furthermore, employee productivity increased – and stayed that way even after the adrenaline rush had worn off.
Many commonplace workplace views have been shaped by open office experiences. which were created to improve communication and collaboration. However, IT innovations such as email and messaging are now delivering these benefits in a more scalable manner.
Companies must reconsider concepts such as communication, training and development, and knowledge exchange in light of digital workplace tools as an integral component of how work is done. Using the “in-office” experience prior to the pandemic as a baseline, identify processes, tasks, and activities that require dialogue, discussion, or debate. Examine how these processes have changed since working from home, and evaluate the success of these changes. Where successful experiences have occurred, amplify them and try to embed them throughout the organisation. Where practises have been less successful, consider alternative approaches.
Five-minute conversations, for example, that would occur when an employee dropped by a coworker’s desk were spontaneous, responsive, and productive.
When working remotely, people may not contact coworkers via phone or messenger if their calendar is marked as “busy.” Making a drop-in slot on your calendar when you are available on video on a first-come, first-served basis can help you create and recapture some of that spontaneity.
Humans are social creatures who need to stay in touch with others on a professional and social level. Getting this balance right in the virtual workplace is difficult — too much contact can leave people drained, but too little can leave people disengaged.
Companies can address the psychological challenges of a hybrid workplace by identifying how people typically stay connected and then developing a connection strategy with their teams.
Prepare to experiment and provide variety by attempting different approaches. This could include various meeting agendas, group activities, buddy systems, and open video sessions in small groups while working. Approaches and interventions should be reviewed, adapted, and changed on a regular basis to avoid becoming stale.
The “workplace” — a specific company-owned location — will be replaced by a “workspace” in the future hybrid work environment. A workspace can be a home, a co-working space, an office, or any other location that can be set up as a work space. Companies must take into account the unique requirements of each of these environments.
The office should be worth the commute and be perceived as a unique and more valuable experience than working elsewhere. People can connect in the office, teams can augment and accelerate interactions and outputs, and departments can forge a sense of identity. Reimagine the workplace as an interactive and engaging environment that encourages people to use it.
Engage employees as partners, not consumers
To meet these new demands, businesses must lobby together to allow for experimentation within the office space. Consider establishing a dedicated collaborative space, an event space for both business and social gatherings, or a hot-desk environment with a booking system.
You should not assume that everyone has the same resources in their home workspace. It is critical for long-term health and well-being to identify each individual’s workspace characteristics, requirements, and needs. Define specific technology requirements for all employees who work outside the office in order to support identity, productivity, and a sense of belonging.
Integrity, in all of its manifestations, is becoming increasingly important in a hybrid work culture, this includes everything from data integrity and security to internet connection dependability.
When four professionals share a house, for example, all of whom work for different companies but share the same spaces and internet connections, clear security and confidentiality policies become even more important.
Working from home raises new ethical concerns, employee monitoring technologies, for example, can raise privacy and consent concerns. Integrity must be a two-way street, encompassing not only employee actions but also what the organisation does.
To manage integrity in a hybrid workplace, you should examine each employee’s workspace characteristics and needs, as well as assess the risk. Reinforce security, confidentiality, credibility, and liability policies. Set up contingency and backup plans to prepare for known occurrences such as power or internet outages.
If you would like to learn how your business can implement a ‘Hybrid’ workspace, then feel free to contact Insightconxs, we will be more than happy to guide you towards an easy to manage policy and process.