The Changing Working Landscape – Hybrid Working Is Here To Stay

The workplace is changing more rapidly and more extensively than it has for decades due to the impact of COVID. Overnight many employees have been able to work remotely outside of the office setting for a prolonged time. The changes have been made possible by the growth and advance of mobile digital technology.

Digital technology has been the chief enabler that is allowing this shift of where work is carried out and the lockdowns have helped change work attitudes of both employers and employees. A recent Boston Consulting Group (BCG) study of 2,000 UK employees revealed that 67% of those working remotely since COVID-19 want to be able to split their time between the physical workplace and home working in the future.

In 2020, almost 90% of UK adults owned a smartphone, and many used them for work purposes during the lockdowns. The ongoing improvements, with mobile coverage, means that the opportunity to work online anywhere in the UK is fast improving, and indeed this now extends to overseas locations. At the same time, the cost of digital computing services is falling, whilst its capabilities are ever-increasing, in terms of speed, reliability, and security, which means that employers are now not reliant on the office infrastructure to do their work. In addition, data analytics and process automation have already changed the way many people do their jobs, often with the benefit of adding value to their employment.

This changing shift in where and how we work requires changes to the way how managers and businesses reward employees and how they performance manage people. The challenge for business leaders now is balancing employee needs and aspirations around how they want to work going forward with the broader business objectives. Business leaders need to take hold of these changes and define how the new ‘everyday’ works for the business, its people, and customers.

 

Employment Law & Duty of Care considerations 

It’s important to make sure that your organisation is ready for managing hybrid/remote working in terms of its Duty of Care to employees and its customers. The most obvious questions are around the application of employment contracts and do they need to be varied to allow for changes in work locations. Remote work has increased passive data collection by employers and the challenge is how this information is to be used for performance management. For instance, the collection of virtual logging/clocking in and out, computer/phone use, email/internal communication/chat, location, or movement and how this information is used in evaluating productivity and performance evaluations, ratings, rewards.

In this new world, managers need to ensure that employees understand how employees will be performance managed. The key point to make here is around transparency, clarity of the measures is the key to building and maintaining trust. Employers need to articulate the benefits of any new monitoring KPI’s, and HR should set and enforce employee data ethics principles for their teams and their organizations.

Another key area is to ensure that you have up-to-date policies that manage data as your hybrid workers will be connecting to your network regularly from beyond your office firewall and sensitive customer data may be passed between colleagues using consumer-grade internet connections. This means that the tools you equip your hybrid workforce with need security built-in that matches or surpasses any on-premises equivalent. You should also ensure that it is hosted in secure data centres with advanced multi-layered security measures including full end-to-end encryption. Plus, the data centres themselves must satisfy the most stringent security standards.

 

Reward and Recognition 

The challenges of hybrid working offer an opportunity for employers to rethink how they reward and acknowledge superior performance. Traditionally companies complete annual reviews, appraising an employee only after they have waited for a long 12-months. This resulted in improved performance post appraisal, but the challenge has always been about how do you maintain performance and ensure consistency through the year? The answer is, why not appreciate them on a daily, weekly, monthly basis?

An appraisal does not mean to always give a monetary increase or by letting them have an asset such as a car. Much more can be achieved through regular feedback by for instance a little tap on their shoulders with a smile saying, “Well done”, “Good job”, “We are proud of having you”, “You did it amazingly” and so on … Managers, colleagues should not wait until the end of the year to express appreciation and support for a job well done.

Recognising and rewarding great performance and achievements can be done more often and the advance of digital communication and reward platforms allows businesses the means to implement this easily and quickly. Digital benefit platforms can enhance the touchpoints with colleagues and raise superior performance awareness right across a business with immediate effect. No longer do you need to have a static performance board near the CEO’s office or canteen, but you can promote and communicate great work with the touch of a button. The results will speak for themselves, the instant recognition of work, and instant impact will keep an employee’s morale in high spirits. Empower people by putting the right tools in their hands.

 

Fostering Creativity and Efficiency 

The BCG research also found that 70% of those who have been working remotely felt they were able to be as productive or more working from home as they were in the workplace. However, there is a split between which tasks are best suited to which location. Nearly half (46%) of UK employees working remotely feel that collaborative tasks are more productive in the workplace, but over 50% find that home, where there may be fewer distractions, is a better place for thinking and planning.

A key challenge for many employers is managing employee responses to the pandemic in terms of the lockdowns and the new hybrid working environment. Some employees have found the new work environment more humanising during the crisis whilst other have found it dehumanising with the loss of personal contact. That is why investing in a benefits platform that has an array of communication tools be it emails, bulletin boards, reward and recognition awards do aid the communication between employees and line management.

The challenge for businesses is to how to harness this new working environment to re-imagine the future of work to increase competitive advantage and empower their people to high performance. The aim is simple to shape a new efficient creative future.

Discover more about balancing home and office working.

 

Wellbeing Support

After three national lockdowns over the last two years, it’s clear that businesses across the UK still have a lot to learn about their new everyday working environment. Amid all the hype around flexible working, and providing employees with laptops, the focus is shifting to how managers need to engage, motivate, and manage people.

Businesses need to think strategically about the working challenges – it’s about making sure that the business is set up to overcome all the wellbeing issues. Remote and hybrid working has resulted in employers having to provide greater health and wellbeing support as employee access to NHS health services have become more difficult. Evidence to support this trend comes from research by GlobalData, which have found that one-third of UK SMEs have increased mental health support since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Of 2,000 UK SMEs surveyed, GlobalData found that 25.7% had increased the mental health support available for staff, while 8.7% had it increased it significantly.

While just over 60% of SMEs had neither increased nor decreased the level of mental health support for employees, 4.1% of firms decreased support and 1.1% decreased support significantly.

The types of services cover such support as immediate support through having access to counselling support be it either digital or F2F. Alternatively, there are options to provide online reference material including videos. Proactive support can also be accessed through wellbeing assessments to achieve better mental and physical health. All this support aims to boost employees’ levels of motivation and help establish new health habits that result in a more resilient workforce.

 

Wojciech Dochan

Co-founder & Managing Director

Bravo Benefits

www.bravobenefits.co.uk