These are unprecedented times, the world expected a black swan event, but nothing prepared anyone for what we are experiencing today. These experiences have had a huge impact on our lives and will also have a lasting impact going forward on the way we live, play and work. The term “work-life” balance is going to take a whole new meaning. The future is essentially going to be about “work-life merge” and “hybrid” workplaces.
Many companies are already announcing sweeping changes in the way they are going to work in the near future. Offices as we know them would surely change to watering holes or meeting places where employees will come together to connect , socialize and maybe even share ideas together for a little time. But they will surely not be the only places where employees will work all the time. This is the new hybrid workplace that is in the making!
The Changes in the way we work
We have seen changes in the way we work in small ways over the last decade. Flexible working hours, work from home policies, part time or weekend workers, gig workers, crowd sourcing, project based workers and many such different workplace models have been experimented with over the last decade. However, the new age and the new situation will need consistent solutions to engage, manage and develop workforce on an ongoing basis.
Currently there is an unprecedented acceleration of digital transformation in business that is on. This means a new way is needed to manage the people impact resulting from this. Companies are looking for digital options to connect deeply with employees who now are working remotely and may continue to do so in the near future. This puts the responsibility of ensuring employee performance squarely on the shoulders of the managers and team leaders.
The Emerging challenges
While working remotely was a luxury during the pre-pandemic times it is probably the only way that is possible in the current scenario for companies who need to maintain social distancing and comply with rules & regulations put in place. While this was largely acceptable in the initial stage by employees and employers, it now has started to show cracks in this arrangement.
Employees have concerns about being overworked, feeling isolated, not being sure about how their performance is being viewed, there is a lack of security around remaining employed by the company, being unable to take time off and many such concerns.
From an Employers perspective, the challenges are around ensuring uninterrupted productivity, maintaining quality, being able to innovate, gap in communication, implementing new technology and being able to connect deeply with individuals and teams and hence retaining people.
Intelligent tools in Hybrid Workplaces
Companies will experiment with multiple models of work to figure out what works best for them. What this will demand is an environment which can manage multiple ways of work and yet be able to deliver support, empathy and motivation to a diversely located remote workforce, as managers & team leaders struggle to ensure that their people are engaged and have the necessary tools.
The future belongs to a world of multiple intelligent tools being leveraged for different situations. Companies will look for tools that are simple to understand, fast to implement & reliable in terms of the data they capture and process. These tools will have to be Analysis Driven, AI Enabled & Completely Digital. They would integrate the workplace digitally and ensure that business managers, team leaders & team members are able to communicate, collaborate and connect consistently. The very nature of these intelligent tools will help managers be better at leading & motivating teams, enabling them to deliver higher productivity and impacting business results.
Intelligent tools: the secret sauce for success
While productivity and collaboration tools will form an essential part of the intelligent tools set, people management tools would be the core of the technology framework. These would be the secret sauce for success in a hybrid workplace.
Companies will invest in intelligent people management tools across the whole employee lifecycle.
The objective of these intelligent tools will be to build managerial capabilities using AI and big data that will help them connect deeply with their teams, monitor them to improve quality, build capabilities to raise productivity and impact business results. These people management tools could potentially be divided into three broad key areas of focus across the employee life cycle :
- Recruitment & Selection
- Employee Sensing & Satisfaction
- Organizational performance & success
Recruitment & Selection
Attracting the right talent & getting the right people in, would become more critical while hiring for remote working roles. Intelligent tools like candidate assessment tests, video interview platforms and online candidate reference tools will help hiring managers screen & test candidates, saving them time & effort while identifying the right candidates with the right skills for the roles they are hiring for.
Intelligent recruitment & selection tools would predict candidate success based on their responses and help managers make hiring decisions based on scientifically validated data rather than gut!
Smart Video interview platforms will allow companies to hire even when they are not hiring by eliminating the need for the interviewer & interviewee present at the same time. These tools will combine to improve the quality of talent being hired, leading to a rise in productivity & impacting business results!
Employee Sensing & Satisfaction
For hybrid workplaces, onboarding employees remotely or in the offices, sensing how motivated they are when working and understanding what drives them to deliver their goals would become critical. Connecting deeply with people to ensure ongoing trust and loyalty for the company will become an essential part of everyday people management function. Intelligent tools will offer real time insights & communication solutions to line managers which would be customized & personalized.
Diagnostic tools like employee touchpoints, AI driven engagement nudges, pulse surveys, exit trigger identification tool will combine with powerful analytics to help line managers turn insights into actionable plans.
They will empower them to predict flight risks & know when to intervene to raise the team morale or even identify and motivate specific individuals. These tools will also build communication capabilities in the line manager by literally guiding them to take real time action, improving employee satisfaction dramatically. Every aspect of the employee experience will be connected and monitored closely ensuring an unprecedented focus on employee wellness, satisfaction and retention.
Organizational Performance & Success
Intelligent Performance Management Tools are a great way to clarify the organizational strategy and communicate the business priorities & objectives. They help in monitoring progress on a regular basis as defined by the company or line managers. The new age intelligent performance tools would be deeply interlinked with business continuity plans, succession planning and career plans at an individual level. They would do so by being consistent, non-intrusive and provide multiple opportunities for the line managers to connect with their teams at an individual level and give feedback ensuring that the focus remains on the deliverables.
The intelligent tools would provide real time dashboards and reposts enabling companies to monitor performance and productivity at an individual level. They would seamlessly integrate with the other tools to offer analytical insights which would be unparalleled and never been seen before.
These tools would easily be able to calculate ROI on almost all or any initiative taken within the area of people management. The insights provided would lead to a higher standard of managing people ushering in possible the best possible era for talent management.
It is clear that if a company chooses to adopt intelligent people management tools, the returns would be astronomical. The impact to the business would allow companies to deliver exceptional employee experiences resulting in higher company loyalty, high retention rates and above all greater satisfaction of employees. These will combine and deliver positive impact to business as never seen before! Intelligent people management tools will surely be the secret sauce to a successful hybrid workplace.