While 2020 is likely to go down in history as the year of ultimate disruption and change, the full extent of the transformation of our world is only beginning to emerge.
The pandemic has compelled sectors that were on the brink of adopting a hybrid work culture to finally succumb in the interest of maintaining business continuity. Corporate workplaces everywhere are taking stock of their performance in the year gone by and rejoicing at the fact that hybrid workplaces did not mean a loss in productivity after all.
A study by Boston Consulting Group revealed that 75 per cent of employees who have transitioned to remote working or remained remote during COVID-19, were at least as productive in performing their individual tasks as they were before the pandemic struck. About half reported that they were at least as productive on collaborative tasks that normally would be performed in conference rooms.
Employees appear largely predisposed to working at offices, although several would like to have the flexibility to decide when and how frequently to do so.
Tech will have a say
Technology has been the single biggest enabler in allowing the world to pivot and carry on with business, perhaps not as usual, but definitely in ensuring a smooth transition. Our study in October indicated that only 15 per cent of employees wanted to continue to work from home once restrictions were lifted.
Employees were keen to adopt a hybrid work model that allows them to work out of office when they need to and from home for the rest of the time – a 3:2 scenario weighted in favour of office. They also underscored the need to invest in state-of-the-art tech, particularly video-conferencing facilities, to make this hybrid workplace a seamless and efficient reality.
Hybrid is the future?
This is one of the key questions human resource teams are trying to answer as the pandemic waxes and wanes in severity. Will all of the technology we have at our disposal enable us to get work done at speed from our hybrid workplaces, so that we can utilize the rest of our days more productively and achieve that often elusive work-life balance?
Or will we find it becoming a millstone around our necks, an electronic leash that we are unable to break away from and one that adds to the workplace stress through shaping an always-on culture?
The jury is still out on that one, although moderation, as with everything in life, might be the answer to achieving a productive hybrid workplace and to overcoming work-from-home fatigue, which has become a living, breathing monster.
What is a good middle path that employers can adopt to ensure productivity is maintained while their employees continue to remain engaged and happy in this hybrid workplace? Because no longer is anyone questioning the correlation of those two terms – engaged employees lead to enhanced productivity and vice versa.
Making it work
Taking a break to recharge from a stressful situation with apps including Google Chrome’s Break Timer, that like other timer apps, allows workers to customise the length of their work and break periods, is a helpful hybrid working tool.
Employers need to give employees back control to experiment with working from their own personal laptops, tablets and smartphones, allowing them the flexibility to work and connect in ways that best suit them. Today, there are multiple IT platforms capable of supporting external network devices, and meeting room technology.
To make the hybrid working model a success and ensure it does not add to employee stress, businesses will need to invest in new technologies, and redesign or at least reconfigure their office spaces.
As we advance into the futuristic workplaces in this brave new world, the trick is to remain engaged. And allow myriad tech solutions we have at our disposal to eliminate the need to stay always-on – as well as the fatigue that comes with it.