Companies Must Hit a Moving Target to Build the Workplace of Tomorrow
As Covid-19 upended lives across the globe, the world was forced to shrink behind four walls. Mounting exhaustion from frequent video calls, combined with family commitments and the disorienting effect of working hours spilling onto personal time, was overwhelming. But gradually, as the world settled into the rhythm of the new normal, working from home came as a revelation for many employees.
With the pandemic showing signs of retreat and vaccination drives in full swing, companies are now contemplating the best ways to reverse the move. The crucial question to ask is this: how should the future of the workplace look?
The employees of the world have cast their votes. The ability to tailor one’s workday, virtual learning for kids, proximity to home, the luxury of home-cooked meals, and zero travel softened the pandemic fatigue when trying to balance a full-time job and the demands of family life. Liberated from long commutes to the office and greater flexibility in balancing personal and professional lives, employees are now wanting to stay at home for work and would rather not revert to the pre-pandemic ways of mandatory attendance in the office.
Over 55% of US employees would prefer to work from home at
least three days a week once pandemic concerns recede
A recent PwC survey offers validation. The survey found that over 55% of US employees would prefer to work from home at least three days a week once pandemic concerns recede. Over 34% of employees say their productivity increased while working from home. Company leaders agree. The forced experiment around remote working has shattered the inhibition organization leaders had about implementing a remote or a hybrid workplace. According to a survey of 800 employers by Mercer, an HR and workplace benefits consulting firm, 94% of companies have seen productivity levels rise since remote working became a norm.
This shift to a hybrid workforce presents organizations with a unique opportunity to reshape the work landscape of tomorrow. We are at a point of inflection and the course we decide upon will have a long-standing impact on a company’s ability to attract the right talent at an optimized cost. Competition for talent was fierce even before the pandemic hit given the rapidly changing technology landscape in which today’s in demand skills can be obsolete by tomorrow. At the same time, the benefits of remote working have made a large portion of this talent pool unwilling to relocate to the employers’ location or commute to the office. Matching talent with the job requirement in this scenario becomes even more challenging, much like trying to hit a moving target.
Instilling flexibility in policies and the overall organizational culture is imperative to balance the needs of the organization and the worker in today’s digital first world. Companies must think for the long haul and execute flexibility at scale with enhanced performance and productivity, better employee experiences, an expanded talent pool, and, in some cases, reduced costs.
Technology is at the heart of creating a flexible culture that supports collaboration across multiple work modes. A workplace, which is distributed across the home, office, and satellite offices, needs to be virtually ready. Collaboration tools, talent matching platforms, skills assessment through impactful data analytics, data saved on the cloud, access and security tailored for different working modes, and more can transform an organization into a Live Enterprise that senses, observes, learns, and acts in real time, with hyper-productivity.
Modernizing the workplace boosts several employee metrics, including:
Skills and talent. Proficiency matters more than ever in the modern, digital workplace. New updates and new software implementations require ongoing training to maintain productivity. Though selective hiring is important, in today’s complex work environment, digital literacy and cross-training are also necessary.
Engagement and productivity. When workplaces fail to modernize, they become less efficient, less relevant, and less productive. Inefficiencies and errors can depress performance, while also driving employees to look for work elsewhere.
Job satisfaction. Happier employees are more likely to stay on board for the long term. This, in turn, reduces hiring costs and contributes to a better work atmosphere. Employers can positively influence employees’ job satisfaction by, for instance, offering more workplace training to keep workers stimulated and interested.
Agility and adaptability. Modern workplaces are built around the latest business practices, digital tools, and workplace experience strategies. Implementing these ideas into the work environment enhances employee agility, which in turn enhances organizational agility.
But a transformation of this magnitude requires a tectonic shift in mindsets also. For a hybrid working set-up to be sustainable, companies must be empathic to non-business considerations of employees that traditionally have been excluded from strategic business metrics.
There is some evidence that data-based, at-a-distance personnel assessments bear a closer relation to employees’ contributions than do traditional ones. Transitioning toward such systems could contribute to building a more diverse, more capable, and happier workforce. Remote working, for example, means no commuting, which can make work more accessible for people with disabilities; the flexibility associated with the remote work can be particularly helpful for single parents and caregivers. According to Mercer’s 2020 Global Talent Trends Study, only 44% of companies systematically assess jobs for their adaptability rather than allowing flexibility to be determined by the worker’s circumstances.
Such assessments can help companies design flexibility into a job in a systematic manner, balancing the needs of the company and its workers. Employees, after all, are the intangible currency for businesses to be bartered in kind.
This article was first published by Nearshore Americas