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Finding the Balance with Hybrid Working

Written by Jonathan Sharp, CEO, Britannic

Businesses are still struggling to find the equilibrium with remote and hybrid working ensuring that productivity and efficiency levels are high, employees are not ‘quiet quitting’ and who are happy to come into the office a couple of times a week. Even though we have all been remote working at home for the past couple of years it is still new territory to navigate. The shift of power from employers to employees has created a new paradigm and employees needs are differing from employers needs. The answer is to find a balance that fulfils both the business’s and the employee’s requirements which can be achieved by designing and implementing a comprehensive employee experience (EX) strategy to engage and empower employees.

Never Going to Give it Up

What is certain is that employees have experienced the flexibility of working at home and many will not give it up. Further to the ‘Great Resignation’ last year where the pandemic forced people to re-evaluate their jobs and thousands left because they wanted more flexiblity, and in the UK, up to one fifth of workers will look for a new job this year as they are not happy (ONS). Plus, a whopping 44% of people now work from home or on a hybrid schedule so flexibility is key, and it is evident that remote and hybrid working is here to stay.

Shift In Power

Before the pandemic the Millennials and Generation Z were telling us that they wanted more flexibility on how and where they work in terms of location and hours, what tech they wanted to use and that experiences and making a difference was high on their agenda. The workplace was changing then but lockdown accelerated home working to all on a global scale so there was no choice but to change.

A paradigm shift was created and remains today where the power the employers used to have now lies with the employees. Naturally companies want to take the ownership back as they are experiencing the downsides of remote and hybrid working such as ‘quiet quitting’, the younger generation missing out on training and development and the lack of face-to-face meetings. However, there are advantages and disadvantages with everything and although companies want to encourage employees back to the office, they must be willing to work with them to reach an arrangement that the employees are happy with. Just as employees must be willing to compromise for the needs of the business and cannot be too demanding.

Time to Listen

Managers need to take the time to understand their employees’ journeys, asking them what they need and explaining their objectives concisely. They need to listen to them, and empower them by providing autonomy to make decisions, giving them the freedom to make mistakes and fail. If we don’t fail, then how do we learn? The work landscape is radically different, and managers need to devise effective strategies to manage their team providing them with opportunities to develop, and reward and recognise them when they are doing well increasing their confidence and boosting their self-esteem.

Cost of Living Crisis

The younger generations have been labelled the ones who are ‘quiet quitting’ and may have a hustle job on the side.They are not giving 100% to their main job so they have the capacity to do the other one. In reality, they may be struggling financially or with their mental health. Talk to your employees and ask them are they managing at work and at home, provide a platform for them to open up to you so you can understand what their issues and concerns are and how you can help.

Well Being

These have been testing times with post pandemic anxiety on the rise, the cost-of-living crisis and uncertain political and economic situation. Be mindful of the amount of work you give to your employees and how it can be managed, can you hand some off to an AI chatbot or automated solution to reduce their load?

Burn out is on the increase at present with 21 per cent of British workers surveyed research from March 2023 revealed that were ‘struggling’, while a further 26 per cent were ‘languishing’. We took a total of 23.3 million sick days last year due to poor mental health.

Track but Trust

Managers can deploy ‘workforce management solutions’ to track employees’ work progress which is especially useful for employees based at home or remotely, and to help stop ‘Quiet Quitting’. This will enable them to monitor their workload and can be used in conversations to ascertain if the employee would like more fulfilling tasks or reduce workload in certain areas. Be careful here not to be watching over them like ‘Big Brother’ so they feel like they can’t be trusted. It is so you can understand their role more and assist where need be.

Happy Employees – Happy Customers

Connecting the employee and customer experience is critical to a company’s success. Most of the investment and focus tends to be on improving the customer experience but improving the employee experience is as important if not more. IDC discovered that 85% of respondents agree that an improved employee experience and higher employee engagement translate to a better customer experience, higher customer satisfaction and higher revenues for their organisation (IDC 2021).

Empower with Tech

Companies need to deploy a unified communications solution for employees to communicate and collaborate with each other when they are working at home or remotely so they can have video calls, work on shared documents, and send instant messages. These solutions enable them to be connected virtually. Ensure that everyone has access to the technology they need to do their jobs and communicate with each other.

Technology provides the ability for employees to get creative on how they use it to benefit themselves and the customer. By providing them with tools that give them access to data and autonomy they can make better decisions to improve their roles and the customer experience. Empower your employees and involve them in sharing their perceptions and ideas to improve their experience and the customers. Work with them and ask them what changes in processes and what technology they require to do their jobs more effectively.

Blending Humans and Tech

Managers need to reduce fears about AI replacing jobs and ask employees what are the issues with their current roles and processes, how can they be improved? Then look at how AI and automation technology can resolve and improve them so processes can be streamlined and employees’ roles can be augmented with AI tech to assist them to make their jobs easier and more fulfilling. Managers need to champion digital technology and embrace the digital co-worker that will most definitely be a fixed asset in all teams.

Investing in Employees

By investing in your employees, developing new leadership styles, devising new management strategies and performance metrics you will improve the employee experience. Listen to your employees, act on their feedback and suggestions and encourage and foster a culture that puts employees first. Then managing and navigating the new workplace of hybrid and remote working will seamlessly come together reducing ‘quiet quitting’, leaving employees who are engaged and empowered, and giving you the power to attract top talent.