Remote, hybrid, in-office—the conversations about where we work are ongoing.
There’s been a lot of recent news about return-to-office mandates and almost as much corresponding coverage about employee pushback. We’re now three years removed from the World Health Organization declaring COVID-19 a global health emergency and the resulting work-from-home structure for many organizations and employees. As recently as last year, 61% of workers still chose not to work at their traditional offices, according to a Pew Research Center study. The “Big Return” or “Return at All” remains at the forefront of employees’ minds and also provides an opportunity for organizations to determine and reshape their cultures.
The pivot towards hybrid and remote work settings empowered many to be more productive and take charge of their work-life balance. It also allowed for the much-needed adoption of collaborative platforms and technologies. The Appspace 2022 Digital Workplace Trends and Insights Report found that 32% of respondents hope to stay in fully-remote positions long-term. Additionally, 63% of employees are more willing to work with companies offering flexible workplace options.
Organizations have two options: To ignore their employees’ feedback or listen to their needs. Keeping a flexible workplace culture can go a long way in boosting efficiency, team engagement, and satisfaction. Internal teams want to feel heard, and with many industries still facing talent shortages, those that listen will have the upper hand in talent retention and sourcing.
Here are five reasons why executives should prioritize the evolution of remote and hybrid work environments.
Enhances Engagement and Performance
Business leaders want to drive employee engagement and performance when making decisions. Workplace flexibility allows individuals to work more without traditional office distractions, reduce turnover, and boost profitability. Those who wish for flexibility are also happier in their everyday roles, thus improving engagement and reducing the odds that they will look for new opportunities.
Of course, this flexibility must be paired with an emphasis on digital transformation. With 56% of employees unable to locate digital documents while working remotely this year, executives must implement unified and easy-to-use communication tools to improve hybrid and remote experiences.
Creates an Innovative and Agile Culture
Organizations must remain agile and adaptable to the ever-changing market, economy, and world as a whole. This sets companies up for success when new market shifts and challenges occur with a proactive rather than reactive strategy. Getting stuck in the rut of a single work style makes it significantly more challenging to pivot as needed.
Additionally, in-person, hybrid, and remote environments provide work arrangements suitable for collaboration and independence. From virtual brainstorming sessions to giving workers the time to analyze their thoughts and present them confidently, there is more room for innovation to strike when we make space for independent and collaborative workstyles to thrive.
Appspace’s 2022 Digital Workplace Trends and Insights Report found the biggest challenge in remote work was a lack of camaraderie with coworkers. Although 47% of respondents mentioned this social struggle, the hybrid workplace offers a variety of opportunities for employees to socialize – especially with the right technology.
In hybrid work environments, organizations can tap into technology tools, like modern intranets and employee apps, to create communities and channels for social sharing in work environments. Even using emojis and filters in group and one-on-one meetings can create connections and add fun and humor to virtual meetings that you often expect only from in-person meetings.
Workplace experience technology, preferably in one platform, is an especially great opportunity for global brands to create employee connections across various regions and geographies to strengthen teamwork and help their respective companies succeed.
Attracts and Retains Top Talent
Companies that say “yes” to flexible work environments will expand their talent pools without the constraints of the standard brick-and-mortar office. Similar to my previous point, workplace flexibility gives HR teams the freedom to hire the perfect candidate, no matter where they are based. Geography no longer plays a role in limiting talent, and with the global talent shortage continuing to show its prominence, this is essential to keep in mind.
Supports a Healthy Work-Life Balance
Remote and hybrid work environments give employees the autonomy to focus on their physical and mental health. This means allowing them to work at their most productive times while also having the freedom to schedule doctor’s appointments, take a lunch break, or hit the gym. Working parents have significantly more freedom to play a present role in their children’s lives with work-from-home and flexible hour options, and a thriving home life leads to happier, healthier employees who are more productive and capable of creative thinking and problem-solving.
Giving workers the space to complete their work responsibilities and care for themselves is a win-win for employers. The past several years have demonstrated the importance of seeing employees as individuals, with their own unique set of needs. The days of a one-size fits all workplace are clearly behind us – at least for organizations that want to remain competitive. Supporting employees’ well-being, with flexibility and empathy, will go a long way in building trust and driving retention and engagement.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chief People Officer, Appspace
Holly Grogan is Chief People Officer at Appspace. In this role, Holly is responsible for driving the company’s growth and profitability through human resources & talent strategies. She has spent most of her career building People & Culture strategies for high-growth companies while creating great places to work environments. Holly is on the Board of Directors of Think Big for Kids, a non-profit helping break the cycle of poverty by providing middle and high school students with career opportunities, mentorship, and job readiness.