5 Tips to Transform Your Business in the Hybrid-Work Era How to establish trust, transparency and clear metrics for success and accountability in a remote-employee structure.
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Last year, thousands of companies were forced to adopt remote work in the interest of operational continuity and worker safety. The resulting ad hoc models weren't always pretty or perfect, but they did shine a light on the benefits of flexible work for both employees and businesses. As a result, we now find ourselves in the middle of a seismic shift that will shape how people work for years, if not decades.
Stats quickly bear that prediction out: According to Accenture's Future of Work Study 2021, 83% of global workers say that a hybrid model is how they want to work moving forward. But creating hybrid environments that feel stable and supportive of everyone, while optimizing productivity and quality of work, requires that companies establish trust, transparency and clear metrics for success and accountability.
Presenting key ways leaders can do just that.
1. Create (or update) your hybrid policy
Many companies are relatively early in their hybrid work maturity journey, and may still be struggling to figure out processes and procedures to best facilitate it. Don't feel bad if you're in that place: after all, there's no playbook for what we've been through, and every company and industry must work through challenges at its own pace. That said, there's no time like the present to stop and take inventory. What is going well? What things need to change or refined? What essential tools and resources are lacking or non-existent?
Creating an official hybrid work policy will help you answer these questions by defining clear expectations for every member of an organization and ensuring they are engaged, productive and successful — and developing it in collaboration with human resources, operations, IT, sales and marketing helps ensure that it'll be representative of various perspectives and needs.
Related: Lack of Workforce Insight Is Killing Your Business
2. Promote an equal experience
It's vital that every member of a hybrid workforce has equal access to resources and opportunities, regardless of where in the world they work. We all know that companies that focus on providing a top-tier customer experience tend to rise to the top of the pack, but now, those that are passionate about offering a fulfilling and inclusive employee experience stand to gain even more.
Whether your organization establishes fixed days for in-office and remote work or allows those decisions to be flexibly made at the team (or manager-employee) level, hybrid scheduling can be a benefit for all. Employees and managers should work together, however, to provide a continuous feedback loop that ensures balanced workloads and an equal experience at home and in the office. This is something that should be spelled out in your hybrid work policy, along with details about technology and equipment that will be provided to create a comfortable and productive environment.
Related: Employee Experience Matters More Than Ever. Here's How to Elevate It.
3. Embrace asynchronous work
Providing an equal employee experience requires giving everyone an opportunity to weigh in on critical decisions, and asynchronous communication is a necessary means to that end — in other words, being mindful that work does not happen at the same time for everyone. Documenting goals, processes and communication is essential for employees outside the office to have full context about what's going on. Asynchronous work is another area in which technology can help everyone feel included and bring company culture to employees wherever they are. When ActivTrak (of which I'm the chief product officer) made the commitment to embrace a remote-first hybrid work model, we adopted various technologies, including a team management platform and a social intranet solution to keep staff members in the loop at all times.
Related: How to Create an Asynchronous Work Culture
4. Identify (and optimize around) productivity patterns
In addition to fostering a fair and supportive work model, you also need to think about how you will measure outcomes and promote success for your hybrid workforce. Organizations that truly understand their customers and how to make them happy rely heavily on data, including signals that indicate how each person experiences their unique journey. These signals are equally important in understanding the employee experience, and workforce analytics can provide invaluable tools to help managers and employees understand when, where and how each person does their best work.
Workforce analytics can be used to identify productivity patterns and offer insights regarding software usage, cross-team collaboration, burnout indicators, workflow bottlenecks and more. For example, they could be used to help an employee tailor their schedule around the times when they are most focused (perhaps early in the morning) vs. when they may be juggling more distractions (mid-late afternoon). Building a schedule around how an individual person works, rather than according to their boss's time preferences, results in a healthier and more productive workforce.
5. Measure and evolve
One last piece of advice: This new world requires continuous discovery and engagement, of which activity data, employee sentiment, benchmarks and goals are equally critical parts. Insights are better when all inputs are brought together and correlated to outcomes, because the move to hybrid work is not a "one and done:" everyone needs a way to check in and have their work habits evolve to what works best for their changing circumstances. It's critical to have the tools and processes, as well as a foundation of trusted data, to make decisions that support individuals, teams and the organization as a whole.
Related: The Future Of Human Capital Lies In Data Analytics
Maximize employee potential and ensure well-being
Healthy, happy employees are naturally more productive. The Great Resignation is just the beginning: it's critical that organizations act now to adjust processes and acquire technology to support (and so retain) their people. Taking a data-driven approach to a collaborative planning process will help them understand the type of hybrid work that makes each of them happy and excel in their role. Trusted, accurate data shared transparently across an organization is a win-win for everyone.