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3 things you must know about hybrid working and next generation employee experiences

Without a carefully considered hybrid working and employee experience strategy, organisations will struggle to attract and retain leading talent.

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Without a carefully considered hybrid working and employee experience strategy, organisations will struggle to attract and retain leading talent. From shifting employee values to cultural transformations, are you ready to thrive in a hybrid world?

We are at an inflection point in history where we now have the opportunity to shape what the next generation employee experience (EX) looks like. As the world transitions from a remote-working setup to a hybrid working environment, there are three key things leaders must take under consideration. The leaders who embrace these ideas will be pioneers of a more sustainable working world. Those who do not, will find themselves with a corporate culture reminiscent of a bygone era and struggling to attract and retain talent.

1. Talent - Employee values have shifted


The competition for talent now has a new player. A recent Gartner survey found that 67% of employees are reporting increased expectations for flexible working and 55% agree that whether or not they can be flexible with their time and location will impact whether they will stay at their organisations. But it’s not only a question of employees moving from one firm to another, many professionals are trading in their 9-5 in exchange for freelancing opportunities in a trend being coined as the “The Great Resignation”. A survey conducted by Upwork, one of the largest online freelance marketplaces, showed that 20% of 4,000 professionals surveyed in the U.S. are considering freelancing. Among these respondents, 73% cited the ability to work remotely or flexibly as a reason why.

The boundaries we once erected between our work and personal lives have been significantly blurred, leading to many people reassessing what truly matters to them. Organisations need to help employees find purpose in what they do and empower them by creating a hybrid workspace that enables flexibility between the office and home working environments. The ability for an employee to be flexible with their time and location must be carefully factored into an organisation’s employee value proposition, and talent attraction/retention strategies.

2. Culture - Cultural and behavioural change is unavoidable


For a lot of employees, the transition back to a home/office split will prove challenging. Many individuals, who are early on in their careers, have spent the majority of their time to date in a remote-only environment. Leaders should very carefully and deliberately plan a change management and communications strategy that reflects this need for care and attention. For example, as we start to re-activate offices globally, we should refrain from using language such as “return to work” as such statements may be perceived as “it’s time to start doing some work again”, and can be insensitive to employees who continued to work diligently remotely despite extraneous environmental circumstances. Such statements also imply that there has been a general reduction in productivity due to the shift to remote working. While this may be true in some instances, early reports found that many employees reported an increase in their productivity amongst other benefits. Take the Financial Services Industry as an example, a stalwart of traditional in-office working norms. 63% of survey respondents felt they were more productive working remotely, 70% said their work-life balance had improved, and 58% reported improved health and wellbeing.

Leaders must recognise that culture is not a constant and it instead adapts to the dynamics in an organisation. Gartner found that 76% of newly remote or hybrid-work employees say their organization's culture has improved since they started working remotely. Culture is an abstraction of collective behaviours, and behaviours are largely shaped by our environment, both physical and contextual. By creating an empowering hybrid working environment, we can shape the cultural norms and values that we want to promote and the behaviours that will reinforce them over time.

3. Leadership - Leaders need to be flexible and willing to experiment


The world is not returning to how it was and leaders cannot assume that we will return to the same culture that existed prior to the pandemic. Leaders must overcome their historical biases regarding working remotely. Yet existing remote strategies will not be enough. We must now work towards creating a more sustainable hybrid workspace that blends the best parts of in-person and virtual collaboration. We are transitioning from a reactive, remote working environment, into what must be a proactively designed sustainable hybrid working model that enables equity of experience no matter the workspace. Leaders must be flexible and willing to experiment with new hybrid working models and hybrid digital enablement technologies. Nobody yet has all the answers when it comes to hybrid working, but by adopting an agile approach, being willing to experiment and pioneer hybrid strategies themselves, leaders can help set expectations and pave the way for the next generation employee experience.

Conclusion


In order to deliver the next generation employee experience, we must first accept that the world is not returning to what it was pre-pandemic. Whether we like it or not, employee values have shifted, corporate culture has evolved and the historical biases that made us hesitant to embrace hybrid working practices in the past must now be overcome. We must also understand that this will not just work itself out. Delivery of the next-generation employee experience and hybrid workspace will require careful change management and communications planning. It’s time to start planning your next move.

To find out how we can help with your hybrid working and employee experience strategy, please get in touch.

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