TalentLearning & DevelopmentCreating a future-proof workplace: hybrid working, inclusion and the acceleration of digital skills

Creating a future-proof workplace: hybrid working, inclusion and the acceleration of digital skills

For long-term and sustainable change in the world of work, organisations must ensure their business promotes high levels of morale to overcome the challenges of hybrid working

More than ever before, employees across all industries are looking for greater flexibility in the workplace, while pushing for a more purposeful and rewarding work/life culture.

This has proved challenging for several employers, who are now tasked with leaner teams as well as leaner budgets – but with the expectation of greater results.

“Company culture has witnessed its biggest shift in the last two years,” says Jannica Lintumaki, People and Culture specialist at Sympa. “While several organisations are now up to speed with the ‘new normal’ and the digital age of working, the challenges around communications, culture and an engaged workforce remain intact.”

Striking the right balance

Hybrid working, diversity, talent retention, and digital adoption are fundamental values for businesses to successfully create a multigenerational workforce.

But striking the right balance between managing teams and supporting employee growth has its challenges. “Transformation is ongoing, and businesses are continuously developing new ways of working to build their workplace of the future,” says Lintumaki.

“Keeping the communication and culture alive in a hybrid world is a whole new challenge,” she adds. “For example – several employees have changed roles during the hybrid era, and managers are now tasked with onboarding them digitally, which presents new challenges around successfully embedding them into the company culture.”

Lintumaki believes employers can address these changes by implementing strategies which ensure communication is constant and not sacrificed when working remotely. Regular check-ins, testing out new communication workflows, setting clear and measurable goals, and gathering constant feedback can employees understand how their work contributes to the wider mission, as well as keep them engaged.

“Be open with your workforce, and use the feedback to find the pain points where improvements can be made,” says Lintumaki. “Then action those points.”

Acceleration of hybrid working

The popularity of hybrid working has changed the way we approach the world of work – research from Buffer shows 97.6% of remote workers would like to continue working remotely, while 32% say the ability to have a flexible schedule is the top benefit of remote work.

With more work happening outside of the office than ever before, what does this mean for organisations and how they manage their workforce?

“Three immediate topics come to mind,” says Wai-Bin Lai, UK country director at Sympa. “Digital transformation, employee wellbeing, and retaining key talent. These topics consistently came up as the biggest challenges in the hybrid working era.

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“The pandemic has forced leaders to accelerate their digital transformation strategies – with workforce resignation at an all-time high, finding and retaining talent has proven to be critical for companies’ survival in a hyper-competitive marketplace.”

Wai-Bin Lai says HR managers should rethink and restructure their strategies, build an internal rewards system, and nurture the development of younger and more diverse leadership candidates that can effectively lead teams in a hybrid setting.

“The competitive talent market has forced organisations to scale in both directions, where there is now a shift towards faster, more flexible appraisal models based on well-defined targets and continuous feedback.”

Pace of technology

Digital transformation has accelerated the use of technology within the workplace and has enabled businesses to become more agile and productive in an increasingly demanding and competitive marketplace.

The biggest learning curve, however, is employees are still an organisation’s most valuable asset, and, without an effective management strategy overseeing the pace of digital acceleration, employees will not adopt new platforms and processes.

“Businesses are beginning to understand that technology is no longer a bolt-on addition to their business functions or a productivity hack,” says Wai-Bin Lai.

Instead, he says that technology is now baked into the DNA of all business and, is fundamentally shaping the way these businesses function at a fundamental level.

“From processes to behavioural and productivity gains, digital transformation is still creating new job categories while the trend lines for productivity and growth still generally point upwards.

Addressing the talent & diversity gap

A successful business strategy hard codes the prioritisation of employee mental and physical health, as well as incorporating diversity and inclusion into company policy by, for example, offering spaces where these topics can be discussed.

“How an organisation interacts with its customers and workforce reflects the internal values and ways of working,” says Wai-Bin Lai. “It’s vital to create a safe environment where empathy and flexibility nurture cultures, and where everyone experiences equal opportunities.”

Wai-Bin notes companies which foster inclusive workforces are better placed to empathise with their customers, and therefore able to produce appropriate products and services.

As business leaders look to scale their operations, building inclusive company culture with better oversight of diversity will help companies promote an open and collaborative workforce, as well as outperform their less diverse competitors.

“Creating a supportive culture centred on peer and leadership support, open communication between teams, departments, and management, and well-defined mission, vision, and value statements are imperative for success,” adds Wai-Bin.

“Businesses with diverse workforces can craft the most well-rounded, deeply thought-out offerings that offer equal value to a wide range of use cases.”

Setting long-term goals

The knock-on effects of newer technologies and hybrid working have pushed businesses to look to the future and create internal strategies which promote more strategic decision-making.

Deploying a communication platform which ensures the right people have access to the right information at all times, and defining team members’ roles to assign ownership of processes and tasks, will help businesses utilise technology to scale effectively as they identify important tasks and eliminate the grey areas that can cause friction between teams and business functions.

Identifying the key areas within the business which need development and continuously monitoring the progress will also help organisations remain agile, global and transparent.

“I believe the wake-up call for business leaders is now being heard,” says Wai-Bin Lai. “Instead of doubling down on getting things back to the way they were before, they’re now embracing the new world of work before they left behind.”

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