In the past few weeks, we’ve seen Google, Salesforce, and other major employers say that remote work is now a fixture within their operations. This isn’t surprising as COVID-19 vaccinations are progressing at a solid pace, especially in the US, so most businesses adopt a hybrid workplace model as they execute their return to the office (RTO) strategies.
Organizations had always balked at rolling out company-wide remote work because they worried that productivity would plummet without direct managerial oversight. The global work-from-home mandate changed all that and proved these naysayers wrong as many employees increased the number of hours they worked because they didn’t need to commute to their offices. However, employee engagement proved to be difficult to sustain as remote work persisted.
Connection And Care
Employees operating from their homes don’t feel the same personal connection to their employer when they don’t go into the office surrounded by their colleagues. Businesses need to rebuild emotional bonds with their employees to avoid churn and burnout. Workplace culture must be adapted and entirely rethought. Organizations can’t just rely on weekly Zoom happy hours to create a sense of belonging and purpose for their employees. Employees need to be heard, seen, and feel like their managers are looking out for their health and well-being. It’s a huge responsibility.
These issues also extend to the physical workspace. There are significant logistical challenges involved in return to office (RTO) strategies. Simple questions can serve as stumbling blocks if not adequately planned for, including:
- Who gets to come back to the office?
- How often?
- Where will they work?
- Who can they meet?
A complete spring cleaning of the employee experience is required depending on how an organization wants to operate in a post-pandemic world. Smaller, younger companies are going to avoid investing in office space and go online entirely. More mature businesses will rely on a blended approach so people can connect and collaborate in person. There are no tried-and-true models to look at, so many organizations will be experimenting and refining their approach based on their workforce’s needs.
The Digital Expansion Of Employee Experience
In today’s virtual workplace, business leaders are learning that data is becoming the new gold. They’ll need insights on many aspects of the business to understand their people and their needs.
Cybersecurity is an excellent example of how businesses can use new digital tools to provide personalized training and support for their employees. Everyone is a target for cybercriminals, from the CEO to a junior associate fresh out of college. Hackers understand that remote workers are overstimulated, distracted, and generally bored because they talk at a screen for a good chunk of their workday. An employee only needs to slip up once, and they’ve potentially compromised their entire organization.
Cybersecurity is everyone’s responsibility within a hybrid workplace. What businesses can’t do, however, is apply a one-size-fits-all approach. Whether they are a millennial, Gen Z, or Gen X, people are susceptible to different types of attacks based on their understanding and familiarity with the digital workplace and their organization’s cybersecurity policies. Businesses must customize their approach to determine who does and doesn’t need help in specific areas. Individual attention and personalized coaching can help steer people away from risky behaviors and protect the overall business from cyberattacks.
This concept of “personalization” can be applied across many facets of the employee experience. What’s important is that businesses show that they value their employees as human beings, not just as productivity robots. Whether it’s a one-on-one phone call from an executive to applaud exemplary work or making tech investments to make it easier to deliver quality work, businesses must go out of their way to prove their faith in their people and help them stay committed and productive.
Workplace culture as a concept has fundamentally changed. Businesses have to re-engage their people, rebuild trust, and help them deliver in flexible ways. Creating a deeper bond with employees means that we have to move away from standard recipes and embrace more personalized solutions.