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The Future of Hybrid Work in Knowledge-Based Businesses

I'm an accredited journalist working at the intersections of science, food and public health, and a certified nutritional practitioner.

The year 2022 will be all about hybrid working. As companies adapt, the importance of maintaining good team dynamics in the new workplace is coming into focus.

the-future-of-hybrid-work-in-knowledge-based-businesses

Shifting Work Dynamics

As restrictive measures are easing up and the competition for talent is still raging, a non-return to the old office normal is now almost certain. Several global surveys back this up, showing across the board that hybrid is what employees want.

Two-thirds of the working population (65%) had their daily location changed due to the pandemic in 2020. Working from home remains popular in 2022: 79% of people required to work from home want to continue doing so, at least part (57%), if not all (22%), of the time.

Employees are in a strong position to negotiate. A study conducted by Future Forum found that 93% of knowledge workers want a flexible schedule, 76% want flexibility in where they work and 56% are open to a job change.

Employers understand this imperative quite well. Other research by the World Economic Forum found that 84% of employers are ramping up the digitization of working processes to move almost half (44%) of their workforce to operating remotely.

The structural organization is only one aspect of this move. A further third of all employers intend to reinforce a sense of community, connection and belonging among employees through optimized digital tools and to go the extra mile to care for the well-being of their workforce.

the-future-of-hybrid-work-in-knowledge-based-businesses

Shaping the Future of Work

The broad consensus that the future is hybrid and that more people will spend more days working from home means that companies have become much more comfortable hiring further out from a company office.

While the extra trust and flexibility afforded by a remote working policy benefited productivity and morale, there is scope for disagreement on the details. How many days, and which ones? And will it all be fair?

Enabling teammates working from home to be on equal footing is a tough challenge for many reasons.

Top talent will opt for companies that provide the best infrastructure and IT support packages for remote working. Another priority will be creating or developing a forward-thinking workplace culture and leadership with continued innovation.

Debates also loom over the monitoring of remote workers to help ensure the holistic management of all stakeholder experiences.

the-future-of-hybrid-work-in-knowledge-based-businesses

Rethinking Hybrid Work Monitoring

The employee monitoring software market will reach $4.5 billion by 2026. Many of us read “employee monitoring” and think of Big Brother surveillance. Companies need to redefine the parameters of hybrid work monitoring.

Businesses are trying to make sure their employees have all the support they need to work optimally from home and maintain a level of security in light of today’s pervasive and rampant cyber threats.

As this market grows and expands, we will see features integrating other outcomes, such as facilitating team wellness and positive dynamics, monitoring productivity while preserving privacy, coordinating equipment availability and tracking the use of resources, ensuring safety, and providing better meeting room booking systems for in-office days.

Office scheduling tools also provide an opportunity to rotate the roster of employees coming to the office week by week to promote engagement, more diverse experiences and richer connections within a team.

Tracking devices like OccupEye, which is a heat-and-motion sensor, are already being trialed by large organizations. The sensors assess office space usage to help reduce costs by managing energy consumption or identifying opportunities to further tweak flexible work environments.

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Investing in a weekly staff survey is another critical trend to help ensure that employers can monitor morale and react early to address any issues.

the-future-of-hybrid-work-in-knowledge-based-businesses

Adding Team Dynamics to the Equation

If we want to build stronger teams, we also need to consider how effectively we communicate and broader team dynamics.

Creativity is the heartbeat of many knowledge-based businesses, and so much of that has to do with face-to-face chemistry and serendipitous interactions in the office.

Isolation is a reality for many remote workers, and the feelings of loneliness that go along with it rarely breed creativity and innovation.

We should all collectively make a concerted effort to replicate the level of open exchanges happening in an office and integrate meaningful conversation into everything we do.

This could simply take the form of a company assigning projects that individuals might have previously undertaken across teams to spark new ideas and greater connectivity.

These new hybrid forms of work should also promote renewed social interactions. A few ways to achieve this include:

  • Redesigning the office and bringing in hotel-like and food-related services
  • Utilizing free-flowing spaces instead of cubicles
  • Acquiring platforms for organizing and managing workplace culture services

Many companies have reduced their real estate but will still need to host occasional real-life seminars, training or events. New services are emerging to connect local professionals with owners willing to turn their property into workspaces or offer a hybrid events model.

the-future-of-hybrid-work-in-knowledge-based-businesses

Context-Rich Communication Tools

One obvious challenge stemming from hybrid work environments is the ability to work together. Relying solely on videoconferencing is not enough and is why we are now seeing the emergence of so-called “context-rich” asynchronous communication tools.

Trends like “metaverse-like” virtual offices and natively hybrid B2B events are here to stay; they spark different forms of creative inspiration.

Employers should think about the retooling of employee engagement, not only for managers to have control over their team(s), but also to provide adequate informal mentoring from colleagues.

We will see the emergence of more and more tools enabling data-driven analytics to measure and improve team member engagement, as well as solutions providing digital coaching to a broader audience, not just C-level employees.

Refining how we communicate as a team also effectively tackles the universally felt emotional challenges and negative emotions brought up by the shift to remote work in a world in transition.

Mental health support platforms and services are no longer an option for employers; they are necessary for everyone. Surveys suggest half of employees feel burned out due to working remotely, and 60% of Gen Zers declare mental health resources essential when selecting an employer.

Many B2B solutions allow companies to provide both digital therapies and access to therapists to their employees. Solutions offering preventive self-coaching and meditation go a long way toward caring for your workforce.

The new realities of hybrid working require a shift to considering total experience — a business strategy that better integrates employee experience to serve remote team members’ needs.

Sources

https://futureforum.com/2021/06/15/the-hybrid-how-to/

https://slack.com/intl/en-gb/blog/collaboration/workplace-transformation-in-the-wake-of-covid-19

https://demos.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Post-Pandemic-Places-Report.pdf

https://www.economist.com/the-world-ahead/2021/11/08/ten-trends-to-watch-in-the-coming-year

https://avc.com/2022/01/what-is-going-to-happen-in-2022/

https://sifted.eu/articles/uk-tech-2022/

https://www.industryarc.com/Report/19332/employee-monitoring-software-market.html?utm_source=ABnewswire&utm_medium=Pressrelease&utm_campaign=Paidpressrelease

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2022 Camille Bienvenu

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