Here is an exploration of the importance of placing employee experience at the centre of hybrid work plans, focussing on what this means from an organisational perspective, the areas HR and businesses leaders will need to prioritise their efforts and the tools available to ensure a smooth and successful transition.
Now, as we prepare to bring employees back into the fold, businesses need to recognise that employee expectations have changed, and the purpose of the office needs to evolve in order to remain competitive and attractive.
We recently discussed the key areas which business leaders should focus their attention when introducing hybrid working with Emma Dutton, Leadership Development Expert of Leopard Learning and Sue Warman, VP People of AICPA and CIMA.
Emma defined employee experience as an individual employee’s perception of their journey with an organisation and emphasised the importance of keeping this central to any change processes.
In practical terms, this means businesses need to be aware of shifts in employee expectations and respond to them accordingly.
These shifts cover two primary areas which can prove disruptive to the success of change processes if neglected:
Working through COVID19 has changed the mindsets of employees, and there can be no return to previously established norms without risk. Employees expect the freedom and support necessary to decide for themselves where, when and how they complete their work. Not adapting would risk losing existing talent, narrow the talent pool available and serve as a negative differentiator when hiring.
To enable employees to think critically about their workload and make decisions accordingly, key elements of the workplace and its surrounding policy will need to change.
First and foremost, new patterns surrounding the physical demands on space will emerge as employees become more purposeful in their usage of office space. The pandemic, whilst demonstrating that productivity can be maintained remotely, has increased awareness for the need of collaborative and creative spaces.
Furthermore, Zoom fatigue has become a serious burden for many, and businesses have struggled to recreate the social aspect of office life which is central to maintaining and defining corporate culture.
This is why organisations need to ensure that they have the right spaces available for their employees to utilise.
Before the pandemic, employees on average had very little agency in their working lives. Only 29% of employees were able to work remotely in some capacity before COVID19. Now, employees expect far more freedom and Sue and Emma emphasised the importance of gauging employee sentiment as an ongoing measure of success in hybrid work environments.
Keeping employee experience central to hybrid working means that managers need to keep their finger on the pulse of employee sentiment, and have systems in place to react accordingly.
Ensuring that social distancing and occupancy limitations are followed and clearly communicated to employees is priority number one as businesses start to re-open offices. It is fundamental that the office is a controlled environment where HR and facilities teams are able to respond quickly to any changes.
Teams need to start thinking now about how they plan to control occupancy levels and reassure employees that the office is safe to return to.
When discussing the purpose of hybrid working arrangements, organisations need to create a framework that provides flexibility and support for employees. A negative individual experience could have a detrimental impact on support for workplace changes.
Businesses need to ensure that they are providing a fit for purpose and safe workplace and that employees can easily and quickly access those spaces.
Here are some tools that can aid HR and Facilities team to enable change and manage space efficiently as employees return to the office.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to office space and teams will need to ensure that they are providing the appropriate variety of spaces for their employees to choose from. Measuring the usage of your assets enables HR and Facilities teams assess which spaces can be repurposed and which are most popular.
Furthermore, collecting workplace data allows teams to build departmental and role based mobility profiles which can be leveraged to tailor shift patterns and rotations based on forecasted space usage.
Additionally, monitoring occupancy enables teams to identify any spikes in occupancy and respond accordingly to ensure that the workplace remains safe.
Central to hybrid work environments is the ability of employees to access the space they require, based on the task at hand. Booking systems facilitate this, allowing individuals and groups to decide for themselves when is best to enter the office and which space is most appropriate.
Additionally, a centralised point of control dictating which spaces are available is a direct communication tool which HR and Facilities teams can leverage to ensure social distancing measures are followed as spaces can be withheld and released as safety guidance changes.
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