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Employee Well-Being When It's Business As 'Un'usual Companies are increasingly adopting new strategies to ensure that employees working remotely are equipped with the right tools to communicate, collaborate and feel supported

By Ravindra Kelkar

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Employees are undoubtedly the heart of any business and their success at work was always believed to be the key to their growth and, thereby correlated to their happiness too. But after a year of braving the pandemic and working remotely, we now know that this is not necessarily true. Overall well-being and health are the most important factors that facilitate a healthy workspace and pave the way for the workforce to truly be productive and happy with their jobs. Hence, companies are increasingly adopting new strategies to ensure that employees working remotely are equipped with the right tools to communicate, collaborate and feel supported.

Business as "un'usual

The pandemic has taken a toll on more than just our physical health. Mental health problems among corporate employees have risen drastically during this period. Isolation fatigue, due to lack of social interactions and increased workload, is real and employees across the globe are grappling with it. Although employees have been juggling their professional and personal lives well before the pandemic, the shift to a complete remote working model has proven to be a shock to the system for most. The constant pressure to operate in a "business as usual" manner when the landscape around us is anything but, has led to greater levels of employee burnout and stress. The flurry of applications, logins, video meetings and new ways to collaborate and connect to colleagues within each working day only adds fuel to this. Although we have seen employee productivity levels increase over the last year, it has affected the overall experience of work; we now all live at the office, when working from home. Employees have blurred the lines between work and home, often working beyond the scheduled hours, while also juggling personal lives and family duties.

Leveraging the right technology

Employee needs and preferences have taken centre stage and become top priority across all levels of leadership. According to a recent Citrix survey conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit, technology has been a key enabler in influencing employee engagement in most organizations. This is largely because when employees are given an experience that is seamless and personalized, they tend to feel more at ease. They crave technologies such as intelligent workspaces and analytics solutions that are powerful, intuitive, and anticipate their needs. Such technologies also help proactively solve issues before they occur, helping individuals cut the clutter so they can focus on what matters. Intuitive platforms also help employees communicate and collaborate seamlessly to help tackle and address any feelings of personal disconnect.

Ultimately, any good workplace strategy is shaped by two things: the technology you pick and how you choose to implement it.

Locking down security, without shackling the employee

Positive experiences happen when performance and security come together. Workplace expectations are evolving fast, and employees want to be able to work from anywhere and use their own devices. While bring-your-own-device (BYOD) can empower employees and make them more productive, with more remote workers and user endpoints than ever before, it also poses serious compliance, security and privacy risks for the enterprise. Organizations need to focus on offering intelligent workspaces with minimal distractions, designed keeping security in mind. These solutions should not compromise the overall user experience, but allow the organization to ensure that data, applications, and work are secure and can be managed remotely by the IT department with ease. Having a digital workspace that enables end-user computing, mobility management, and networking requirements, all while keeping security as a top priority, is one of the key drivers of an employee's success, and thereby the business' too. When technology can be utilized to provide employees with more autonomy, that is what makes work satisfying.

Employee well-being: The integral building block for the future of work

Employees are unlikely to stay focused and productive if their workspace technology distracts and overwhelms them with demands coming from a plethora of applications. Work needs to be designed around an employee experience that removes any friction stemming from clunky technology and empowers employees to work the way they want and wherever they want. Choosing the technology that suits not just your business but also the individual needs and goals of your people is an investment in employee well-being: the healthier the workspace, the stronger the workforce. When employees feel empowered by the tools they use, rather than encumbered by them, they can innovate better, focus, and deliver more value.

Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) are also extremely essential and have never been more relevant than they are today. When promoted proactively by employers, EAPs can offer a helping hand to effectively guide employees from the workplace to counselling and/or practical assistance with finding the right resources.

If employee well-being is one of the building blocks for the future of work, then smart and adaptive digital workspaces are its corner stones. Employee burnout is real and the impact can be devastating for both the employee and employer. Businesses need to push the reset button on the old way of working and gear up for the new future of work, one that is inclusive, intuitive and focussed on uplifting the experience and well-being of every employee.

Ravindra Kelkar

Area Vice President, Indian Subcontinent, Citrix

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