Ever since the coronavirus invaded our lives and lifestyles, it has completely upset the applecart of employee-employer relationships. As lockdowns came and went, whole new corporate-world realities took centerstage.
The story of the post-pandemic employee is the story of remote jobs, of hybrid work and of a digital revolution working at breakneck speed towards welcoming and cementing that new reality.
As the dust begins to settle after a tectonic disruption to the corporate world order, we can see that the future of work has finally arrived. The new normal is here - the notion of traditional, office-centric workspace is now at odds with the whole new idea of a “flexible future” carved out by the pandemic.
It’s a brave new world where modern workspaces are being reshaped by the fast-changing contours of technology, and at the heart of this change is this grand (and perhaps permanent) shift to hybrid work.
Employees In Pole Position?
The pandemic has made an immensely disruptive impact on work environments. It has openly thrown a challenge at the face of corporates around the world, making them rise up to challenges never seen before. A lot of that focus is on HR and management that are now having to grapple with the new challenges. That’s because perhaps for the first time since the digital revolution dawned upon us. Employee expectations have evolved and corporates are taking note of this mindset shift.
This gigantic change in employee mindset was recently laid bare by a Microsoft Work Trend Index Report. It revealed that as much as 73% of the workforce is now planning for hybrid work.
This whole new hybrid work approach can have far-reaching implications, given that the employees hail from vastly different geographical backgrounds.
The trend is tell-tale. Whip your magnifying glasses out and simply check out what’s happening on LinkedIn these days. Remote job postings on the platform have seen an exponential 5x increase in post-pandemic times.
Or simply take Microsoft Teams as yet another example of the new trend. The world-favorite app has seen the number of weekly meetings shoot up two times since February 2020, when office-going life had come to a grinding halt.
Embracing Hybrid Work: The New World Order
An entirely new hybrid work culture is emerging. It’s a kind of world in which employees are calling the shots, and expecting more freedom and flexibility. Unsurprisingly, many enterprises are grappling to devise a proper response to the dramatically changed scenario. Many of them haven’t been able to figure out a well-oiled strategy to deal with the new world order of work.
This is where organizations will have to step-in and address the gaps. There is a caveat here — many companies are trying to retrofit old policies of working to the new realities. Old wine in new bottle doesn’t always tickle the palate.
It’s time for organizations to embrace the change and enable flexible and adaptive work environments to meet the expectations of employees. The big challenge for enterprises is to make the office-home connect real, seamless and natural.
However, that requires organizations to go beyond simply providing training modules and tools to “go remote”. It’s much more than that. It’s about aligning every function - from HR, IT, marketing, sales and manufacturing - with the new trend and new mindset of employees.
Enterprise CxOs need to look at this challenge as an opportunity, and should try to capitalize on it. The way forward for them is to better connect people in the office with people not in the office by empowering them with more intuitive and improved remote technology solutions.
For example, firms should focus on meeting room solutions with the scope for breakout rooms where people can join in and discuss anything freely – bringing them closer than they are – and this remote workforce can be seen and heard as clearly as those present in the office.
The basic approach should be to foster more inclusive, collaborative, and interactive meetings for everyone. It demands more immersive meeting experiences that will enable us to essentially ‘be there’— from anywhere in world and at any point of time. It might sound as audacious as space-time physics, but that’s what the new reality has to look like.
Connecting The Physical To The Virtual
The need of the hour is a digital workplace built entirely on the cloud that empowers your employees to stay connected and collaborate in ways that’ll feel almost real. And it’s not limited to video and video conferencing. That has been around for a while. Its road ahead is to empower people with an engaging and a constant meeting room experience powered by group chats, annotations, whiteboarding, audiovisual screen-sharing, robust moderator control, noise reduction, virtual background and more.
Final Thoughts: Setting The Agenda
Working in a post-pandemic workplace is complex and challenging simply because we are in uncharted waters. The onus is on leaders to set an example for the workforce by being flexible and open to revolutionary ways of working. That requires renewed focus and smart investment in technology to foster improved teamwork and seamless collaboration. The farther their employee is, the more managers need to help them stay connected. Adapting to the new normal of hybrid work is not only the best way forward, but perhaps the only one.