More than two years after the start of the pandemic, many businesses are still struggling with the new workplace realities. Hybrid or flexible working is fast becoming the norm. However, introducing hybrid working isn’t a simple task. The situation is more acute in specific sectors, like the financial services sector, which needs to ensure digital resilience and compliance in hybrid work models.
Implementing a hybrid work model requires a well-thought strategy that balances business outcomes with employee demands, a culture shift and technological and business processes redesign.
The pandemic has also changed the way people view their jobs, proposing a new challenge to organisations on how to keep reshaping work for years to come. According to LinkedIn’s 2022 Global Talent Trends report, 63% of job seekers call work-life balance a top priority when picking a new job. In May 2021, organisational psychologist Anthony Klotz predicted that the Covid-19 pandemic would lead to pent-up resignations. The great resignation theory was spot on, and in 2021, 47.8 million workers in the United States left their jobs voluntarily. And in the United Kingdom, many workers are changing roles and companies as they re-evaluate their views on life, work and how to balance them. Recent data from the Office for National Statistics revealed resignations and job-to-job moves in the UK are at their highest level in two decades. According to new research by Microsoft in conjunction with YouGov, more than half (51%) of UK workers who currently choose to mix remote and office working would consider leaving their company if this hybrid option was removed. For many employees, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed hybrid working from “nice to have” to “must-have”.
What Is the Best Hybrid Work Model?
There’s no single hybrid model that works for every company. The answer will be different for every organisation and requires looking beyond floorplans and digital tools. In hybrid work models, employees have a flexible schedule and choose when and where to work from. In a recent article, Bloomberg reports that preferences vary and who goes into the office and when largely depends on where employees fall on the organisation chart. Workers generally prefer being in the office two days a week, but those whose roles require lots of interaction with people, such as managers and client-facing employees, tend to favour three days a week. In-office days also vary. Employees say they choose their in-office days based on the organisation’s needs, choosing the place where their Mondays will be most productive. And while at-home Fridays are popular, this has also created a subset of workers who enjoy the quiet of mostly empty offices. Meanwhile, many CEOs are still logging long days at the office. “There’s no limit to my work in the office,” stated one company founder.
Despite many bosses’ preference to get everyone back to the office, the potential benefits of a hybrid workplace include increased flexibility and productivity, lower costs and better employee experience. Also, shifting to a hybrid work model allows organisations to reshape the traditional office landscape and open up the talent pool to create a more inclusive environment. According to McKinsey’s research, companies with healthy cultures have three times greater total returns to shareholders. Remaking and strengthening corporate culture in a hybrid workplace requires a more thoughtful conversation about what employees need. A hybrid-work model poses challenges to information sharing and social cohesion. While virtual interactions can be unique, in-person events can help people feel more connected.
Culture and Technology in the Hybrid Workplace
The biggest challenge in scaling a hybrid workforce model is creating a culture that supports it. In a new article in the Harvard Business Review about the challenges organisations face with hybrid work and how to overcome them, Lauder Institute Director Martine Haas explains that the most common challenges related to hybrid work fall under what the author calls the 5C challenges: communication, coordination, connection, creativity, and culture.
Companies need to create dynamics for interactions where half of a team is together in a conference room while the other half is remote and avoid creating two separate organisational cultures—with the in-person culture dominating as workers benefit from on-site collaboration.
Every organisation is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. To create a robust bridge between the physical office and digital workplace, organisations need to answer questions such as who, when and why will need to come into the office or how will people effectively collaborate. Understanding your employees’ needs is vital in developing business processes and policies and implementing the right technology. The answer to these questions provides clarity and helps create a hybrid work strategy that puts people at the core and creates greater buy-in that ensures our employees are happy, innovative and productive.
Technology stacks and business processes will need to be structured to allow individual team members to quickly access the information and resources they need, regardless of where they are.
How To Optimise Your Business Processes for a Hybrid Workplace
Hybrid work is much more than just establishing which days you go to the office. It is about fundamentally rethinking how the organisations work. When we think about digital transformation, organisations often start by digitising and automating processes. However, to make the hybrid model work, organisations need to think beyond simply using digital technologies to automate processes and need to think about how to bring people into the mix, regardless of where they’re located. In an effective hybrid work strategy, you need to have a strong pulse on what types of work your employees are doing. Hybrid work might require fundamentally different organisational processes than remote or in-person work and might require that many of your company’s workflows be redesigned to empower hybrid work.
At VIP Apps consulting, we use our AMOBI methodology to map and optimise business processes. AMOBI is an iterative framework based on the concept of continuous improvement. It enables a structured, templated approach to assess initial requirements using root cause assessment, mapping, and optimising processes to identify manual or system bottlenecks, comparing the proposed optimisations to the expected benchmark and implementing successful optimisations. The AMOBI stages are: Assess, Map, Optimise, Benchmark and Implement.
Our AMOBI methodology will allow your organisation to identify key processes, focus on pain points that hybrid workers are struggling with and create simple workflows to solve everyday problems. Map out your processes, breaking them into their individual stages to ensure the process includes all the information and steps you need and then build efficient workflows for hybrid work arrangements.
Hybrid working comes with great promises, from work-life balance and higher job satisfaction to access to a greater talent pool. For the hybrid work model to be successful, the strategy needs to be employee-driven where the organisation rethinks culture, adopting a human-centric work design that creates parity between the office and remote experience, with technology and business processes in place that enable collaboration and provide a seamless user experience.
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