Leveraging human potential in digital work environments

How do you manage people when your workforce is dispersed and employee expectations are at an all-time high and growing?

Even before the pandemic, businesses were already grappling with these challenges as technology, digitization and the arrival of Millennials and Gen Z were changing how, where and when people worked. COVID-19 ramped up the urgency for organizations to do things differently – including managing people.

As the pandemic is shifting to endemic, organizations across industries are preparing for a longer term work-from-anywhere mode. Gartner predicts that by the end of 2023, 40% of organizations will move to blending virtual and physical experiences to increase productivity and expand customer reach.

Workers are in demand and flexing their power

A new normal is already happening as businesses work to further define hybrid culture and establish flexibility protocols for their organizations. What exactly does it mean to “return to the office”? Is the traditional definition of a nine-to-five, five-day work week still relevant? What is required to maintain a hybrid office environment that supports true collaboration and work from anywhere? Getting it right – meaning hybrid work must be engaging for employees and productive for the organization –  is essential. Not offering hybrid, flexible work arrangements is not an option, as many organizations have recently learned.

In the era of the ‘Great Resignation”, workers are flexing their power as one of the tightest labor markets in recent memory is forcing organizations across industries to step up. For managers, this means adapting and providing hybrid experiences that drive results. It’s no easy task but, according to new research from Gallup, it is the only way forward.

Why hybrid work environments are the future

Gallup surveyed 140,000 U.S. employees over the past two years and shared the following findings:

– 53% of employees expect hybrid work arrangements to continue going forward.

– 46% of employees who are working either fully remotely or in a hybrid model would leave their current job if their employer stopped offering remote-work options.

– Employees don’t want and expect a hybrid work model: Nine in 10 employees prefer some degree of remote-work flexibility, Six in 10 specifically prefer hybrid work.

It’s clear: As much as people enjoy the conveniences working from home affords (especially cutting out the stresses of commuting) they like the idea of coming into the office to see colleagues in person. Still, they do not want to return to a traditional office. They want an environment where they can maintain the freedom they’ve grown accustomed to while staying connected to their team in person and virtually.

Supporting people wherever they are

Now it’s up to managers to maintain culture and drive performance when people are working from home, on the road and in the office. The key to unlocking human potential in this new paradigm is to fully embrace the moment and give people the tools they need to communicate and collaborate in a way that feels like they are in the same room and that accommodates their preferred work style.

This will require enabling a truly digital work environment in the corporate office, the home office, and anywhere in between. Solutions include everything from laptops and tablets to portable monitors and interactive displays with cloud-based whiteboards to shared work drives and advanced video conferencing capabilities.

Here are three steps to get started:

Step 1: Define what flexibility means to your organization

Flexibility goes beyond schedules and where work happens. It’s also about how you work. Some people prefer a phone conversation to email; text over chat. As a result, there is no one-size fits all approach or a singular best-in-class hybrid model. It will depend on what you do and what works best for your people. Understand what the organization needs, touchpoints between teams and functions, work flows and talk to your people about how they like to work and what they need to be productive. Create a plan/framework and prepare to revise and improve as you go forward.

Step 2:  Communicate more, set clear goals and measure

Over the past two years, successful managers have ramped up outreach and adopted a different mindset as to what communication can look like. This is not about micromanaging; it is about relationship building and engagement and using culture to support flexibility, well-being and performance. Today’s knowledge economy is shifting away from clocking in and clocking out and managing by presence to focusing on KPIs, deliverables and results. This is how you measure effectiveness in a hybrid work environment

Step 3: Provide the right tools to deliver results

Collaboration tools and seamless all-in-one connectivity is essential. Today’s USB-C technology is becoming standard across desktop and interactive monitors, laptops and desktops, tablets and smartphones, providing high-speed two-way data transfer with capability to transmit audio and video and deliver power over a single cable. Video-conferencing monitors have integrated webcams, microphones and speakers to capture high-definition video and help make virtual meetings feel organic while democratizing participation for everyone – those on site and those participating virtually.  Interactive displays are critical for today’s conference rooms, providing cloud-based whiteboarding technology that allows people to connect, create and share content in real time wherever they are. Ultralight portable monitors allow people to be productive anywhere, providing easy dual monitor set ups for mobile and hybrid workers

Ensuring the success of recruitment and retention strategies within a hybrid work ecosystem has become a top priority for today’s enterprise. Candidates are looking for and seeking out companies that support a hybrid work culture and provide them with the digital collaboration tools that will allow them to reach their full potential. Employees today have endless options to seek out positions that meet their demands for hybrid work and flexbility. An organization that remains stuck on rigid nine-to-five in the office rules, risks losing their existing and prospective talent – and they certainly won’t get the best out of their people or build a thriving workplace culture. The good news is that the tools and technology that drives today’s hybrid organizations forward, have never been more accessible.

About the Author

Jeff Volpe is President, Americas for ViewSonic, a leading global provider of interactive and collaborative visual engagement solutions for enterprise, education, consumer and commercial markets.

Featured image: ©Insta_photos