18 months on from the start of the global pandemic, the world is starting to consider what the future of the work ‘place’ may really look like. Hybrid working seems to have taken hold as the term being used by industry-leading vendors and organisations of all sizes.
But what does it actually mean? Does anyone really have true experience of hybrid working and, most importantly, why should we care?
Let’s start with the last point first.
There is a lot of talk about returning to normal or going back to the way the world was before. However, the question is: should that be the ultimate goal? If it is then that means five days back in the office, long commutes, less time with the kids and likely a decline in employee wellness.
The impact of the pandemic has not been all bad when it comes to employee work-life balance and wellbeing. So, we should be careful about how we define the return to normal and look to find the right balance.
What’s hybrid working anyway?
Getting the ‘hybrid’ part of the return to the office is going to be a key component of ongoing employee experience. We have already seen the revolt that Apple caused with their blanket return to the office mandates. Employee experience combines an organisation’s ability to attract, drive productivity from and retain the best talent. This is important as we know that this talent is going to define the ability to differentiate and compete.
If getting hybrid working right is going to be key to success, we need to clearly understand what we mean by ‘hybrid’. Over the last 18 months, no organisation has been experiencing hybrid. Instead, we have been undergoing enforced remote working, something very different to hybrid. Anyone who has found themselves sat at the kitchen table or on the sofa for hours each day will agree with me!
True hybrid should enable users to seamlessly work from any location at any time, while removing barriers that can impact experience and engagement. Complex IT systems, legacy apps, poor performance (to name a few) are all technical elements that will drive frustration, while reducing productivity.
A user’s workspace should be consumer-like, simple to operate and always running at peak effectiveness. Modern technology can enable such experiences, while also increasing an organisation’s overall security posture.
But this is not just a technology challenge, it extends much further into the organisation.
The magic number of three
At Proact, we believe organisations need to combine three core concepts to ensure they offer employees the best experience:
- The right technology platform to support frictionless work from any location at any time
- Drive corporate culture to enable staff to feel safe and protected, allowing them to innovate
- Provide the right places and spaces back in the office that support collaboration
Technology is the underpinning element that will enable an organisation to define its culture to fit the new ‘normal’. Exactly what that is, I don’t think anyone fully understands yet.
It’s going to take trial and error, but I do believe that those organisations that start the journey and engage their user base will excel and differentiate.
In the end, your users are your most important asset and your approach to hybrid working will have a significant impact on talent attraction, productivity and talent retention. All of which will impact how successful your company is.
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