Remote work is here to stay and is already a vital part of the employment mix for most organizations today. The core pillars impacting the workplace strategic decisions are safety, agility, flexibility, productivity, cost consideration and most importantly employee experience, now more than ever. While remote work seems to be the mainstay across most firms, in-person collaboration is something that most employees seem to be missing; however, both people and organizations have realized the benefits associated with a flexible work environment. The culmination of both these factors necessitates organizations to take prompt actions to transition to a hybrid workplace model. While most organizations have adapted to a hybrid work model, there are many firms that are still adjusting to it.
A hybrid workplace model provides employees with the flexibility to work remotely while also providing them with the option to work from physical office spaces. While the hybrid model presents many variations, what is crucial is ensuring seamless continuity and similar employee experience across environments. A successful hybrid model is reliant on technology along with an enabling organizational culture and effective communication as the backbone.
In the initial days of the pandemic, most firms had to undergo a dramatic shift to remote working models and readily implement and adopt various technologies and platforms as a knee-jerk reaction, most of which turned out to be redundant. Today, as the pandemic chaos is slowly giving way to clarity, organizations have realized that the right approach for their digital transformation is to plan and strategize.
Migrating to a Hybrid work environment
Every solution and every technology is not for every organization. Firstly, to achieve an effective hybrid work model, organizations need to redefine the DNA of the organizations. Identifying how the new changes would impact the work, productivity and the work culture and how this transition needs to be planned and executed. Then they need to re-evaluate their technology stack and their IT system, whose core functionalities were largely designed for a predominantly on-premise workforce.
Organizations need to evaluate the tools adopted, simplify the tech environment, standardize the tech platforms and ensure that the digital transformation imperatives are aligned with the business goals.
For a hybrid workplace model, it is imperative to ensure that all interactions of employees with each other and with the customers are seamless, immersive and relevant across all environments. Additionally, organizations would want to ensure that their current investments ensure a future of work that is flexible, agile, digital and relevant, for all stakeholders.
Based on these goals, some of the tools and technologies that organizations should look forward to investing in are:
HR Reporting and Analytics Tools
It has become extremely crucial for HR professionals to be able to analyze large amounts of data to identify workforce trends. For example, productivity analytics can provide insights on which processes organizations need to work on to enhance the experience. Effective data management and analytics systems are essential for a hybrid model as it gives HR a holistic view of a dispersed workforce.
In the earlier typical remote setup employees relied on VPN connection. VPN licensing and infrastructure does not make it a feasible option for large scale remote workers. So organizations today need to migrate their data from on-premise to cloud. This serves two purposes, i) ease of information access for employees irrespective of the workplace ii) most cloud service providers have robust security and threat alert mechanisms.
Organizations today need to invest in powerful security systems to protect against cybersecurity threats and ensure that systems are secure in an expanded exposure landscape. To ensure that their data and devices are protected firms, need to rethink security measures beyond id and password and evaluate different means such as defined conditions or additional access rules for classified data.
Business communication and collaboration suites
Instead of having multiple communication tools for collaboration, organizations should invest in quality and spend on tools that cater to all job roles and functionalities and promote virtual social connectivity. An effective communications tool will ensure that employees are not spending time across multiple communications systems and will streamline and standardize these systems.
Workplace infrastructural tools
These tools will provide capabilities to ensure safety such as sensors monitoring crowding and movement of people, allowing employees to use self-service apps to access physical facilities with a low or no-touch method like scheduling and booking meeting rooms and desks coupled with less setup time.
Productivity enhancement tools
To ensure that employees perform to the best of their abilities, firms need to invest in tools such as digital training solutions and learning management systems. Additionally, firms need to invest in proper time management tools that cater to employees across different work environments and not fixed schedules. Further to ensure that employees remain motivated firms need to relook and design performance management systems that focus on measurable outcomes and metrics.
Despite the abundance of technology options available today, the most important factor for an organization to consider and base their decision on is their employee experience. All digital transformation initiatives should be employee-centric and devised keeping in mind the employee journey across different roles, functions and hierarchies. Identifying the right mix of automation and human touch in the organizational processes is imperative, more so, to keep the employees motivated and connected to the organization. Organizations need to realize that the adoption of new tech and tools will often require behavioural shifts and this will not happen overnight. Infact, the journey to a hybrid work model will be an ongoing process that will require innovation and constant support.