There is a subtle shift in employees’ minds. It is no longer about “place”; it is about “purpose.”
While the shift may be subtle, the implications are not. As companies look to build agile workspaces and workplaces to weather the pandemic, HR leaders need to reinforce the sense of purpose across all workspaces, including the home.
These are some findings from a Poly report titled “Hybrid Working: Creating the ‘next normal’ in work practices, spaces and culture.”
The report drew on the knowledge of key experts in the future of work, workspace design and psychology. It aimed to find out what hybrid working — what Poly calls working in the new normal — means to employees.
"Looking beyond the first phase of workplace transition to adopt Remote Working, we are now witnessing a shift towards a new way of work — Hybrid Working. Businesses that stand to thrive in this 'next normal' will be those who prioritize human connections and collaborations as they look to reinvent current work practices, spaces and culture for their employees," said Pierre-Jean Châlon, senior vice president for Asia Pacific at Poly.
3 trends of hybrid working
The report sees hybrid working introducing three trends:
● New working patterns: New working policies that bring employees flexibility on when and where they work.
● Outcome-based working: Taking the onus off the hours and location, to being productive and delivering results.
● Optimized investment: Looking beyond the company office to create collaborative, technology-enabled personal workspaces anywhere
Tom Cheesewright, applied futurist and contributor to the Poly report, said: "Even before the pandemic, the nature of work was changing because the nature of business is changing. Today, few can claim that the technology is a barrier to changing practices, but the lockdown has highlighted the need for investment into the cultural and behavioral components of flexible work.”
He noted that work fulfillment will play a larger role. “The future is a flexible working environment that caters to the needs of all employees, giving them the most fulfilling work experience and in return allowing them to maximize the value they return to the organization.”
Building hybrid working spaces
In the report, Sarah Susanka, architect and founder of Susanka Studios explored why creating the best environments for employees to be productive and collaborative will be vital to the new hybrid working era. As a result, the report sees three global trends for hybrid working spaces that will emerge in 2020 and beyond:
● Home offices will be given as much attention as the kitchen — ergonomically organized and crafted into places that inspire
● A prevalence of co-working — organizations will invest in co-working spaces outside of cities to attract talent. Group collaboration and social connections with colleagues and others will lead to cross-fertilization of ideas and innovation.
● Cityscapes will change — Will we continue to see high-rise office buildings? The city as a structure will stay as apartment living means the city is integrated into people's lives; restaurants are an extension of their kitchen and gyms their workout space.
Managing cultural change
Megan Reitz, professor of leadership and dialogue at Hult Ashridge Business School in CITY, believes that businesses need to 'hardwire' fundamental habits into their teams' culture to bring hybrid working teams together and ensure employees can speak up. The report argued that work cultures need to be:
● Inclusive — diverse teams do better, but you must be able to harness and appreciate difference.
● Inquiring — 'one-size' management doesn't fit all. Employees will respond differently to hybrid working and managers must learn the skills to inquire, be curious and ask questions.
● Purpose driven — we are seeing a well-overdue widening of purpose, and this focus on impact will serve as a compass in times of change and make for a more meaningful workplace.
Driving technology-enabled change
As organizations respond, redesign and reinvent their business models, technology will play a fundamental role in enabling the shift to hybrid working.
“As teams become more disconnected physically and connected virtually, technology becomes the key that bridges communication between and across teams to optimize work efficiency and productivity,” says Châlon. “To stay ahead of the curve, businesses will need to respond, redesign and reinvent their practices and meet their challenges head on, adapting to whatever changes they face.”
Photo credit: iStockphoto/Chinnapong