Companies must make a “more conscious effort to look at clever ways of keeping people connected” by using multiple channels to reduce the risk of employee disconnect and creating talent vacuums, according to Dani Saadu, global director of talent at Collinson.
“Having the right technology and platforms is absolutely key so people feel they can work from anywhere and be included,” he says.
Businesses should look at interchanging the use of technology platforms, such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom, based on its functionalities to maximise employee connectivity and engagement, adds Saadu.
Almost 36 percent of employers said reduced staff interaction was a challenge of homeworking during the crisis, according to a report by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). Similarly, 21 percent cited staff motivation and engagement was also a challenge.
Iana Dimitrova, CEO of OpenPayd, said perpetuating the office buzz with everyone working in different environments has been a challenge. As such, keeping the lines of communication open with all members of staff has been critical.
“There is a justification for companies to invest in good digital collaboration tools,” says Saadu. “Tools that tell you when people are going to be in on certain days and when you’re most likely to catch certain groups of people.”
Last week, KPMG launched a learning platform using Microsoft’s cloud services to support businesses in the hybrid working world.
“The new world of work requires different skills to align with changing workforce dynamics, challenging the way we think about learning,” said Robert Bolton, head of global people and Change Center of Excellence at KPMG. “Organisations have had to rapidly pivot towards virtual learning and find a way to better integrate learning into our day-to-day work.”
However, businesses should be cautious of technology burnout. In a recent report by Advanced, 32 percent of professionals say there are too many distractions from alerts and messaging tools and 17 percent say their productivity is being held back by having too many business apps.
Hybrid working strategies
Companies should focus on human-centric flexible working strategies and be prepared to make mistakes, says Saadu. “Flexibility and adaptability are key.”
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“If you try fit everything around a fixed rigid plan that must be implemented regarding hybrid working, then you won’t get the best of your people. It won’t be flexible; you won’t create the right culture and you won’t maximise efficiency.”
Saadu says there is a growing business case for the use of satellite offices in the future to help maintain connectivity between employees.
Employers are at risk of groups of talent excluding themselves and working solely at home with the introduction of flexible working policies.
“Companies have to deepen their understanding of true diversity beyond personal attributes,” said Dimitrova. “We need to consider how domestic set-ups, income levels and access to office tech and the right furniture, for instance, can impact upon someone’s ability to concentrate and maintain proper levels of wellbeing when working from home.”
Employees who joined the workforce during the pandemic, commonly named the ‘Covid Generation’, are more likely to be less engaged, having not been able to build meaningful relationships with fellow colleagues – something companies should monitor closely, warns Saadu.
“The difficulty, long term, [could be] a real lack of trust and rapport building,” he says “It’s going to be harder for people to be able to influence and persuade people to work collaboratively with [others] because they haven’t formed that connection.”
Saadu says typical working hours of nine to five are not as necessary in the hybrid workforce and companies should consider basing workdays around deliverables.
“I am a strong believer that there should a focus on your output, not time at desk or time online. There should be a clear agreement on what I should be delivering over a specific period of time and forget about my hours or how long I am online, as long as I deliver my output.”