Coming out of a two-year limbo, employers and their employees are reconsidering their long-term vision of the “ideal” hybrid workplace.
By now, we all clearly understood the pros and cons of hybrid work. The flexibility of being able to work anywhere and everywhere and do the job just as well, with the right technologies and processes, has been overwhelmingly positive. On the other hand, there are problems with hybrid work; work / life balance, meeting fatigue and social ties.
If we move from short-term pandemic fixes to more permanent hybrid arrangements, there will inevitably be some push between businesses and teams to do things right. Flexibility and choice are gold, but so is productivity and profitability. What balance will make everyone happy? According to a recent study by Harvard Business School, is one or two days a week in the office the perfect setting? Are there more complex factors included in the Grail Hybrid Labor holidays?
These issues are revealed in the results of the latest annual report of Microsoft on the index of labor trends for 2022: Great expectations: make hybrid workwhich surveyed more than 31,000 workers in 31 countries about how they want to work.
Kochie’s Business Builders has asked Andy Malakuchi, head of Microsoft Australia and New Zealand’s device sales partner, to introduce us to key report ideas that will create hybrid jobs for long-term success.
1. Understanding the new “equation is worth it”
Employees have a new “worth it” equation that they bring to the office. The report shows that 53 percent of employees are more likely to prefer health and well-being to work than before a pandemic.
“We are definitely in line with these global indicators and, if anything, probably a little higher, being a developed country with strong technological integration in our country,” explains Malakuti.
“I would say that the key was flexibility. People have really started to prioritize family time, health and flexibility over other things. ”
Thus, for a hybrid strategy to be successful, business leaders must consider the “equation of what is worth” of their employees, and equip them with the tools they need to do a better job wherever they choose to be.
2. Pay attention to the wedge manager
Managers are critical to the success of a hybrid workplace. Surprisingly, 74 percent of executives surveyed said they don’t have the influence of resources to make changes for their employees; and 54 percent said company management did not need employees.
This is a delicate balance, especially when executives are required to return to the office and employees are asking managers for more flexibility.
“It has a lot to do with the approach and expectations of how staff should work,” says Malakuti. “It’s about understanding that staff need such flexibility to work at unusual hours, away from the traditional nine to five and in unusual places away from the traditional office. Having that kind of flexibility, but meeting deadlines is really an opportunity for a successful hybrid work environment.
“And it comes from both sides. On the part of the employer there is confidence that the deadlines will be delivered and then it is the responsibility of the staff to ensure that they deliver what they need to deliver on time and as a result they get the flexibility they need. ”
3. Determining the “why” of the office
Is your office worth the trip? More than a third (38 percent) of hybrid workers said their biggest challenge is knowing when and why they come to the office, while only 28 percent of executives have entered into team agreements to pinpoint new norms.
The solution? Business leaders and managers need to restructure the workplace with what the Microsoft report calls “radical intent”. This could mean experimenting with “team Tuesdays” or quarterly outings to bring people together, or perhaps even just adapt aspects of the physical office itself.
“Some people like to work in a quieter environment, while others lack this face-to-face cooperation,” adds Malakuti. “I think employers now need to pay attention to creating their own jobs to maintain a combination of these things. So you have quiet places in the office where people can sit and focus; or there are other areas that are areas of collaboration where people can come together in teams to discuss ideas, ideas for boards and so on. ”
This also means that the common experience extends to hybrid meetings, where programs such as Microsoft Teams Rooms are optimized for hybrid collaboration.
“As people start coming back to the office a few days a week, your teams will still have members who will work remotely,” Malakuti says. “That’s why having such a constant experience of being in the office or at home in meetings with a great team, project or clients is very important. That’s where technology really needs to be at the forefront. “
“Our role is to help our customers provide this to their employees through technology – through tools and access, through collaboration with Teams, through Intel 11 vPro®-based Windows 11 devices.”
4. Let’s talk for hours … but not for hours
Digital depletion is real. Based on an analysis of the collaboration of Microsoft 365 tools over the past two years, the average Teams user spends 252 percent more time in meetings each week than in February 2020. We also spend more time working during non-working hours and our working days are getting longer.
“There are quicker informal conversations that would normally take place in the office, which have now moved on to meetings,” Malakuti notes. “There’s a necessary level of etiquette to ensure that meetings are planned for the right reasons. So make team practice to ask “can we do this via email or chat instead of a full meeting?” Can you look for opportunities to share meetings between team members? Can you have invitations to meetings where certain people are needed and some are optional? ”
Interesting fact: meetings now start later on Monday and end earlier on Friday. While 9:00 to 11:00 is still the busiest time for meetings, the time from 14:00 to 15:00 is growing. Take note!
5. Restoration of social capital
One of the consequences of the pandemic was the dismemberment of teams. Now the positive experience of the hybrid workplace is one that recognizes how to restore social capital between teams.
According to the report, hybrid employees feel more connected to their immediate teams than those who are completely remote. However, both hybrid and remote workers cite a lack of communication with their broader teams. This can be challenging for new employees, but also for friendly workplace relationships in general.
Thus, business leaders need to take an active role in ensuring that hybrid and full-time remote workers promote social relationships at work – whether this includes informal virtual coffee meetings or inter-team experiences.
“It’s about making sure that a sense of connection with the organization and with the wider team still exists,” Malakuchi adds.
It is important to remember that hybrid work is still ongoing. It requires trial and error. This requires consultation between teams, managers and leaders. Finally, we need to reconsider how we use modern technology for productive cooperation – and, above all, happiness.
Read more in full 2022 Labor Trends Index: Annual Report here.
Want to know how to improve your hybrid workplace with modern Windows 11 devices on the Intel vPro platform? Find out more here.
This article is offered by Kochie’s Business Builders in partnership with Microsoft.