“Employee expectations are changing, and we will need to define productivity much more broadly — inclusive of collaboration, learning, and wellbeing to drive career advancement for every worker, including frontline and knowledge workers, as well as for new graduates and those who are in the workforce today. All this needs to be done with flexibility in when, where, and how people work.” – Satya Nadella, CEO at Microsoft.
The hybrid workplace is being hailed as the new employment landscape. An accelerated legacy of the COVID pandemic, the blend of work-from-home and office working has brought advantages to many – less commute time and expense, more family time, and a greater work-life balance. It does, however, also bring challenges for some including digital fatigue, isolation, and the lack of in-person creative spur.
The hybrid approach, according to the 2021 Work Trend Index produced by independent, Edelman Data x Intelligence, will nevertheless win through and 70% of talent say they’ll go where the blended workplace is on offer.
Two-thirds of business decision makers are now considering redesigning workspaces to better accommodate hybrid environments, but where and how should they invest?
After more than a year from working from home 42% of employees say they lack essential office supplies at home, one in 10 doesn’t have an adequate internet connection and over 46% say they are having to self-fund remote work expenses. Investment has to go where they will most aid work flexibility and efficiency.
Impromptu office encounters help keep leaders in the loop. Remote work doesn’t offer the in-person opportunity to chat to employees and pick up on important cues when they answer and the disconnect become apparent among the work force.
One in five global survey respondents feel their employer doesn’t care about their work-life balance, 54% feel overworked and 38% feel exhausted.
The digital intensity of workers’ days has increased substantially, with the average number of meetings and chats growing over the past year. Collaboration trends in Microsoft 365 between February 2020 and February 2021 reveal trends which continue to grow:
Hybrid strategies should address how to reduce employee workloads and foster a culture where breaks are encouraged and respected.
Some 60% of the Gen Z generation — those aged between 18 and 25 — say they are merely surviving or flat-out struggling right now. Typically single, and early career starters, Gen Z admit to feeling isolated, lacking work motivation of the financial means to set up adequate workplaces at home. In the survey they scored higher in struggling to balance work with life and in feeling exhausted after a typical workday. Gen Z also reported difficulties feeling engaged or excited about work, contributing to meetings or innovating. Yet this is the generation that can bring heightened creativity to the table. Gen Z staff need a sense of purpose and to feel their wellbeing is considered.
Collaboration via email and virtual meetings has shrunk business networks as people clung to their immediate teams for support when working from home, becoming more siloed. However, a hybrid workplace model can re-energise networks and has done so in New Zealand and South Korea as lockdown restrictions eased.
For a successful hybrid balance, leaders should look to foster social interaction, cross-team collaboration, and spontaneous idea-sharing.
On LinkedIn, women, Gen Z, and those without a graduate degree are more likely to apply for remote positions.
LinkedIn research shows that 41% of the global workforce is likely to consider leaving their current employer within the next year, with 46% planning a career transition.
How organizations pivot for the new workplace norm will decide which talent they retain and which they can attract. The challenge now is to create a flexible and empowering hybrid strategy that deals with physical office space, technology provision in offices and at homes, in-culture social shifts and wellbeing priorities. Leaders will also have to redefine employee experiences to compete for and retain talent.
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