CEO of LiveTiles Karl Redenbach analyses the world of hybrid working and why empathy and empowerment are integral to a healthy team
The rapid acceleration of the digital workplace has been one of the defining shifts of the Covid-19 pandemic. But what have we really learned? And what do we absolutely need to leverage and evolve?
Among LiveTiles’ global community of customers – which comprises approximately four million workers who use our solutions to connect, engage and create on a daily basis – we have identified some very clear trends from the last two years:
- Those who were already on a digital transformation journey were in an advantageous position to absorb and then capitalise on the rapid pivot to digital.
- Timelines for project delivery moved at warp speed from three years to three months, even three weeks in some cases, as organisations realised that the old rules need not apply, that this was a make-or-break moment and opportunity.
- The issue of organisational culture and employee experience came to the surface as a business-critical priority directly impacting everything from employee retention (and recruitment), wellbeing, diversity and inclusion, and even brand authenticity.
- Digital tools were being leveraged at an unprecedented scale to unleash a more liberated, empowered digital employee, untethered from the physical location of an office, and released from the grind of daily commutes.
- The importance of a more empathetic leadership became more evident in the virtual workplace. Employees needed to be better seen, heard and understood. This became a key part of nurturing belonging and combating the potential for loneliness or isolation.
A new dawn
Gone is the improvised world of often ill conceived solutions. Instead, leaders have become increasingly aware about the importance of the entire employee experience. Specifically, how this impacts customer service, a company’s bottom line and their ability to survive and thrive in the new hybrid world of work.
As we enter a new, post-pandemic phase, it is time to reflect on what gains we have made, what we have learned, and what we must double-down on if we are to lead more sustainable and resilient organisations.
Here are some of the most important learnings we have made, backed up by research in a Global Employee Experience Pulse Check we carried out with 7,000 workers across seven countries.
- Flexibility is now highly valued as much as the salary. 86% of our global customer base is committing to a hybrid model of work and research consistently shows that more than 80% of employees across all sectors and age-groups want a more flexible work model so they can lead healthier, happier, more productive lives. This is arguably one of the more lasting outcomes of the Covid experience and the mix between employees’ desire for a healthier work-life balance and the rapid evolution of digital workplace tech means this shift is now readily achievable, and making it happen sits atop the agenda for leaders everywhere.
- 43% of employees have issues with feeling ignored and invisible. The message is loud and clear – we need to transform the experience of work and get better at seeing, hearing and understanding employees. It is no longer about the employee life cycle but all the moments that matter in the professional and personal worlds of your people. Mapping and automating these moments and leveraging tech for good to support managers and employees alike is now an essential element of delivering a fit-for-purpose employee experience.
- 37% of employees are actively looking for a new job. This has catapulted employee retention to the top of the agenda for many organisations, often seen as even more challenging when managing virtual or hybrid teams. Getting the right blend of people and tech is as much a cultural as technical challenge. What we live by at LiveTiles is to “be where the user is” – remove all the noise and distraction and the need for constant app switching. Start the journey to a more personalised, humane and employee-centred experience when it comes to setting up your communication and collaboration platforms.
- There is a massive win and opportunity to show that your organisation values diversity and inclusion, not least by engaging frontline workers, recruiting remote roles and elevating a more authentic employee voice as part of your brand while heightening the sense of belonging those employees need to enjoy their work, and remain committed to the organisation.
- Technologies that help staff stay healthy, be productive and remain secure will equip organisations with a digital capability that is vital to thrive in the new world of work. During the peak of Covid-19, with lockdowns and isolation, employee wellbeing became more pressing. Surveys have shown that HR automation grew drastically over this time, not only with performance-management tools but as a way to measure staff sentiment and wellbeing with regular check-ins and pulse-checks becoming the norm.
With more than 80% of organisations determined to shift to a hybrid mode of working it is clear that the secret ingredient to making it work will be the blend of employee experience and digital workplace tools and data. This type of connectivity – both in terms of collaboration, communication and camaraderie – is here to stay. As we enter a post-pandemic phase which is more employee centred, we value leadership that is more empathetic, and celebrates the importance of diversity, inclusion and a healthier balance of work and life.
Getting “flexible” right and making “hybrid work” work for you is essential – it is not a one size fits all approach. According to a recent Microsoft report, 67% of staff desire more in-person work, not less – so as businesses transform to a hybrid model or downsize office space, they need to be mindful of the needs of all staff and teams. The shape that this takes is a work in progress and is going to require a careful balance of good governance, digital workplace tech and physical work spaces.
Hybrid working has empowered employees and injected much-needed energy into organisational cultures while also giving rise to more wholesome and human-centred values. Having an informed and open approach to hybrid working will ensure everyone optimises the incredible opportunities presented by digital workplace innovations, future-proofing organisations and putting to rest the tired “let’s get back to the way things were” mindsets.
At LiveTiles we are excited about the fast-moving, employee-driven evolution of work, and how people interacting with technology can enjoy a revolution that brings about better outcomes for employee wellbeing and sets organisations up for a more sustainable and successful business model. We are committed to being at the forefront of shaping incredible employee experiences and will continue to share our observations and research so that everyone can benefit.