Hybrid workspace, a mixture of remote workers and in-person workers sharing ideas, meeting spaces, gathering for morning discussions but from different locations is a new reality that corporates are waking up to. While big tech firms have already adapted to this new conditioning of human resources and have started investing in inclusive technology, it is a recent development that has been pushed in by the pandemic and will need adaptation and acclimatization of technology to be comfortable for both the employees and the employers.
While the flexibility offered by a hybrid workspace and its related culture is exciting, the innovative technology underpinning the transformation will have to be accepted and utilized by the entire workforce. The strategy to make hybrid workspace a sustainable reality will depend on training the workforce, updating the technical expertise for them to access the offerings suitably and also ensure that the technology offers freedom along with suitable prevention of data sharing, so that both the employers and the remote workers can happily collaborate.
Working from home or the concept of hybrid workspace is a very recent one. Even a decade back remote workers were treated as insincere to work. Teleconferencing and video-conferencing were the only possible ways to connect to each other together. Employee satisfaction through these means of cooperation was also not optimum. Business owners and managers has also feared that collaboration would fall to the wayside and productivity would decline. However the recent pandemic experience has shown that the concerns are mostly unfounded.
According to HR consulting firm Mercer, several months into the large shift to remote work spurred by COVID-19, it was found that 1 in 3 have their staff working from home in 2020. Prior to the pandemic, just 1 in 30 companies had at least half of their staff working remotely. Also, of the employers surveyed, 94% said productivity has remained the same or increased since employees began working remotely.
It is interesting to see how the technology changed to take charge of this behavior. While human behavior may have changed with the demand of the pandemic and understanding the positive nuances of working from home, today the technology solutions allow teams to come together no matter where they are located. Instant outreach through text, chat, video calls while working in a project and applications like slack, G Suite, UberConference, Google Drive, Zoom, DropBox, Skype, InVision, Trello are just a few of the applications making life easier. Also apps for protection of data that is being shared or stopping further sharing by employees are there.
Solutions that make everything from conference calls and project planning to video chatting and managing the books simpler are being launched to make life easier for remote working. The challenge for the employer is to decide on the secure method of work and provide all-inclusive channels to every remote worker.
There are platforms that integrates with leading collaboration platforms and filters video, audio, chat, and documents as they are being shared, flagging potential compliance and security violations for later review. Digital parity will imply having access to the same conversations and opportunities for advancement, whether an employee is in the corporate headquarters, working from a small home office, or logging in from a cabin at a beach. And security of data will remain one serious issue, as we are often using files in sharable formats.
With the outreach of technology and requirement of specialized persons that is leading to an emerging gig economy, remote working is here to stay permanently. And the best way to deal with that is to define hybrid work policy and work related safety measures. Also at the backend updated HR policies and talent processes is a must, ensuring equal status to onsite and remote employees.
Remote working policies, safety standards weaved in KPIs and awareness about expectations will remain the key to get best results out of a hybrid workforce. Employers need to work out a balance between protecting the business interests and creating an environment where employees feel trusted and valued. Employees in turn will have to understand the fine line between monitoring and spying that businesses need and should be aware of monitoring software that is implemented in each remote device. Secure remote access technology will become a key to a sustainable hybrid work atmosphere.
As preferred working mode is transformed to digital interactions compared to face-to-face meetings, privacy becomes more important for the content of discussion. Any digital meeting, discussion can be recorded. While AI watches can flag off any rule violation by employees, the major challenge will remain in training the staff on all the technology inputs that have to be balanced and information safety. The transition to managing a remote workforce might be daunting, but with the right technology and hardworking employees, it can be transformed into a seamless process. However strong the technology might be, the trigger of remote working and hybrid work environments will remain trust.
As the sentiment runs, mankind is being forced into the largest work from home experiment and it has not been easy to implement. It will need an amalgamation of technology and trust to bring out the best of the situation.