We already know that in 2022, a focus on inclusivity is reinforcing the charge that all people must be treated with fairness and respect. Accompanying this realization is a whole new sense of what is considered acceptable behavior and what is not—but what exactly does that look like for hybrid employees?
To help you find out, we combed through some of the latest research to learn more about what workers are thinking when it comes to a hybrid environment—and how to make it work for your own organization.
To start, we learned that according to a recent study by Accenture, a majority of workers (83%) prefer a hybrid work model, but a variety of factors influence their ability to thrive.
Why is hybrid so appealing? Accenture says it brings together the best of both worlds. Those who had a hybrid work model during COVID-19 had “better mental health, stronger work relationships and experienced less burnout than those who worked entirely onsite or entirely remotely.”
Knowing so many employees prefer this type of working environment, the question stands: where do we go from here?
Jabra surveyed 2,800 knowledge workers in six key countries to find out what makes employees happy during this time of rewiring our workspace. They found that employees prefer autonomy in the hybrid setting, and that the technology they use directly impacts their experience.
Workers with full control over their work arrangement and schedule, unanimously reported a better work experience overall–sometimes with significant differences–than those with limited or no say in where and when they worked.
These differences are most visible in their research when it came to feeling a sense of belonging, productivity, trust in leaders, work-life balance, and mental well-being. At Kantola, we know that each of these factors, though important on their own, collectively can make or break an employee’s overall experience.
According to Harvard Business Review, in order for organizations to make the transition to hybrid a successful one, they’ll need to design work arrangements with “individual human concerns in mind, not just institutional ones.” That requires companies to take a step back and look at their inclusion efforts through a new lens.
For example, as Jabra confirmed, having the right technology can make or break the user experience when it comes to meeting, collaborating, and working in general. Ensuring every worker is enabled to work in the best, most efficient way possible is one way to streamline your employee experience in a way that puts inclusion first. And, according to research from McKinsey, without an inclusive environment, even an organization with a diverse employee population will “probably struggle to improve its long-term performance.”
What the experts are saying about the future
Based on these findings, we know that hybrid work is here to stay. We know our employees want autonomy and we know they’re craving inclusion. So how can we merge the two? Here are the four biggest takeaways we found in the research:
- Gallup suggests hybrid team engagement can far exceed on-site engagement when managers proactively check in with their employees multiple times per week. As flexibility increases, managers need to increase communication about work priorities, progress and handoffs between team members.
- According to Jabra’s analysis, IT decision-makers need to “not only equip meeting rooms with video conferencing technology that connects in-office workers to remote and hybrid workers elsewhere, but also to provide individuals with the necessary personal collaboration technology to be able to connect virtually with business partners.”
- Accenture believes in providing resources that are meant to nurture an employee’s wellness and productivity. Challenges in the workplace—and in life—cannot be entirely eliminated. What organizations need to focus on instead, is providing the right resources, tools, and training to their people, both onsite and remotely.
- Lastly, Workhuman emphasizes the importance of “rethinking” the office. Every leadership team will need to unlearn the idea that one-size-fits-all when it comes to how work gets done. As Workhuman co-founder and CEO Eric Mosley puts it, “the key to designing flexible work is separating what needs to be done together from individual work. Companies must dismantle their outdated routines and redesign them to prioritize flexibility, agility, and collaboration.”