Driving productivity in a hybrid workplace
Many UK companies have created hybrid working models that are being rolled out this month, bringing employees back for two to four days a week, presenting a new challenge for leaders as they balance remote and on-site teams.
According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2020, 78 percent of business leaders anticipated a negative effect on productivity from remote working during the pandemic. Surprisingly, to many businesses this difficult period demonstrated the resilience of their office workers and the success of pivoting to a hybrid model, highlighting the need to maintain a healthy corporate culture in the long term as we return to a hybrid workplace.
Focusing on the bigger picture
Knowledge workers productivity is difficult to measure, but the two key types of data to quantify it include self-reported data, or asking people if they feel productive, and worker activity data. When organisations first switched to remote working, many were surprised to see that these standard metrics of productivity remained high. One year into remote working, Microsoft’s Work Trend Index survey showed that self-assessed productivity of more than 30,000 global remote workers remained the same or higher. On the other hand, data shows that 54 percent of remote workers said they felt overworked, and 39 percent reported feeling exhausted one year into the pandemic.
Productivity is an important measure, but in the changing work environment, it’s not enough to be guided by simple measures of productivity. Whilst it might be tempting to equate high levels of employee activity with success, this approach could lead to missed opportunities to drive sustainable innovation. To drive long term success, leaders need to expand how they think about productivity, with focus on well-being, social connections, and collaboration. Research points to the need for leaders to create a new definition of productivity in the hybrid workplace — one that not only factors in how much work gets done, but how people work when the boundary between work and home no longer exists.
No ‘one size fits all’ approach
Determining which tasks are best accomplished remotely and which are done best at the office is essential for teams to thrive in a hybrid work setting – however, everyone is different. There are significant individual differences in whether and how remote work can be effective, depending on employees’ tenure at a company, where they live, their gender, race, or role. Even individuals who work in similar contexts have different experiences.
Addressing individual employee needs requires bridging the gap by developing both, leaders and workers with the skills and resources they need to reignite motivation and drive productivity. In the new hybrid workplace, leaders are being forced to rethink their working models, cultures and company values. At the same time, employees are rethinking not only how and where they work, but also why – and this new approach is forming a more dynamic relationship between employers and employees.
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