The way we work has undergone a dramatic sea change over the past couple of years. First, there was an overnight shift to remote work, where the focus was simply on ensuring workforces remained operational by providing people with the tools they needed to work from home.
Now, many organisations have been experimenting with various hybrid models, and employees are embracing the flexibility of deciding where, how and – in some cases – when they work.
With the ability to go into the office again (and often a mandate to do so), business leaders everywhere face the challenge of balancing the need for continued productivity with employee expectations that the office will provide a flexible and innovative experience – and one that’s also worth the cost and time spent commuting.
But, with four in five UK workers stuck in pre pandemic office spaces, a lack of investment in sociable and collaborative workplaces may be holding UK employees back from returning to the workplace. By leaning into what employees’ value most about the office, business leaders and employees can find common ground.
Meeting employee expectations
As hybrid work has become more common, not everyone agrees on how it’s going. Our findings pointed to the fact workers need a better reason to go into the office than an employer mandate, with 50% of employees only go to the office because or when they are required to.
Employees have come to crave the flexibility that comes with hybrid work, but business leaders remain keenly focused on keeping productivity high, and many feel that’s best achieved back in the office. However, one thing is clear: energised, empowered employees are what will give organisations a competitive edge at a time where the wider business environment is volatile.
Factors such as escalating pressure to attract and retain top talent, a growing skills shortage, and the highest rate of open vacancies since the late 1990s – with certain sectors struggling for staff – have coalesced to make employee engagement a top priority for businesses everywhere.
From our research, we identified three key steps which business leaders and change managers need to take to make the reimagined office a reality:
Make employees’ needs central to business strategy
With a change management strategy that considers employees’ needs and reasons for using the office. Not only will this ensure that devices deliver on what they need to, but also enhance the employee experience.
Accept and address the hybrid paradox
If employers want to encourage greater in-person presence, it starts by understanding that people value flexibility and human connection and letting go of a one-size-fits-all approach.
View devices as a productivity powerhouse
Not just as a technical necessity – the devices which employees use have significant impact on their morale and lead to better productivity and business outcomes. The right devices can also enhance accessibility and create more inclusive experiences for people with disabilities and those working from remote locations.
Change is never easy, and technology is no panacea. But the right tools, combined with effective change management for supporting the people side of change, can help businesses adapt to the new reality and set them up for success in the future.