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Employees are embracing a hybrid work model; Are employers ready to provide it?

By Peter Jackson

Business leaders around the world may want to return to the office, but employees have other plans.

In fact, a recent study by Cascade Insights highlights that most employees expect to be given the flexibility of a hybrid work environment for the foreseeable future - embracing the realities they've become accustomed to, while leaving the past in the rearview mirror. 

Amid all the chatter and noise surrounding return to work, however, it can admittedly be difficult to business leaders to see the "forest for the trees" when it comes to both understanding and activating against a hybrid work model.

Below are three key insights that can help any business leader chart a path to hybrid work, while helping employees navigate through this new and exciting transition.

Leverage the zero-hour workday

Even before the pandemic started and the definition of work/life boundaries began to change, I was always a proponent of what I call the "zero-hour work week." In many ways, gone are the days of the traditional 9-5 workday that keeps people in an inflexible box and dictates when they should and shouldn't be working. Instead, I believe that work-life balance should be fluid, meaning that employees are free to work on tasks when they need to and when it's naturally conducive to their lives.

Now more than ever, leaders need to give their employees the leeway to work productively on their own schedule - and ensure they have the right technology to do so. Who knows, you may even find that flexible working schedules can even promote productivity in the process, showing your teammates that you both trust and believe in them.

Strengthen virtual communication techniques

Email, instant messaging and video conferencing are all useful tools but I'm sure we can all point to a time when the information or attachment we're looking for is buried in email and chat threads. The distractions and time wasted searching for information is a constant struggle. As for video conferencing, "screen showing" simply doesn't fit the bill. Sharing links, switching presenters, and pulling up documents derail otherwise productive and collaborative conversations. It's with this in mind that 67 percent of employees complain that spending too much time in meetings hinders productivity at work.

Teams don't just need a better way to communicate, they need a more efficient way to create and collaborate. Rather than sharing screens, leaders should consider new virtual collaboration tools that reimagine virtual communication - bringing team members together behind shared goals and objectives.

Reimagine typical workflows for the new normal

I'm a firm believer that tool sprawl and context switching are the root cause for most productivity bottlenecks and costly miscommunications. In short, it can be difficult, if not impossible, for employees to maintain focus and momentum when they're constantly having to pivot between tools. Just consider a recent Okta study, which showed that an average business deploys over 88 applications for employees to utilize.

Particularly when working remotely, companies need to address "application overload" challenges in their workspaces, consolidating workflows - including meetings, comments, decisions, interactions, and more - onto one, easy-to-use platform. In doing so, not only can business leaders eliminate distractions and bolster productivity, but they can also make their employees' lives easier. It's truly a win-win scenario.

Admittedly, there's no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to hybrid work. Companies will need to individually analyze their current work environment and then decide how to bring their processes into the new normal. That said, there is one universal truth when it comes to the future of work: it's changing forever. Employees everywhere are embracing a hybrid work model and as business leaders, we must be willing to adapt if we hope to survive.



Peter Jackson 

Peter Jackson is a serial entrepreneur and advisor with a broad and deep knowledge of technology, business, and financial markets. Before Bluescape, he co-founded Ziploop Inc. (acquired by SNIPP in October 2017), served on the Boards of Eventbrite, DocuSign, and Kanjoya; took Intraware to IPO, and was President/COO of Dataflex (NASDAQ. DFLX) following its acquisition of Granite Systems, among other achievements.

Published Thursday, September 09, 2021 7:34 AM by David Marshall
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