Four Strategies For Creating Great Employee Experiences In Hybrid Work Era

Not ensuring great employee experiences in hybrid work era could be detrimental to corporate profitability.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>(Source: Unsplash)</p></div>
(Source: Unsplash)

Despite recent "back-to-office" battle cries from the top management, hybrid workplace adoption is on the rise. Worldwide, 83% of employees prefer hybrid work models over fully office-bound arrangements. Since many employees might move on in the absence of such facilities, the onus is also on the chief information officers to ensure great hybrid work experiences.

Neglecting hybrid work facilities for your users can also be detrimental to corporate profitability. International Data Corporation’s recent predictions indicate that G2000 companies can lose revenues by 20% in 2024, resulting from job attrition and underperformance—due to ineffective hybrid work models.

A shift towards hybrid work experiences that collaboratively harness employee strengths to meet changing business requirements is the need of the hour. An "individual-first" approach to hybrid work is key for success on this front.

From a macro standpoint, reevaluation of the people, process and technology pillars is essential to craft outstanding hybrid working experiences. Depending on your workplace's unique traits, even concepts like self-organising teams can prove handy.

To start with, eliminate the common fallacy that hybrid work models just accommodate your employee's capabilities to work from a remote location. The objective is to deliver a consistent experience irrespective of their location—at office, home or elsewhere. While a made-to-measure strategy based on your business objectives is ideal, the following strategies can go a long way on this front. 

Strategy #1: Analyze, Reengineer, Repeat

Ongoing monitoring, measurement and analysis of how employees experience hybrid work facilities are essential to improve the overall experience. Here, keep in mind that HR (or even IT teams) may not be the best reference points.

Forrester Consulting provides ratings of existing technology by HR managers and employees:

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The technology is easy to use. (Source: ForresterConsulting)

The point where synergies of IT and HR teams come together is in improvement of hybrid work experiences. This is to identify better parameters, methodologies, tools and analytics that measure employee satisfaction levels from enterprise technology. Many of these assessments may be real-time or diagnostic in nature (hint: look beyond the old survey tools).

For instance, many businesses create specific employee personas to identify suitable hybrid work arrangements for those roles. Others might use methods like A/B testing to compare the user engagement levels in application interfaces. Such ongoing optimisation is useful for:  

· User interface refinements 

· Process reengineering to suit hybrid work requirements 

· App consolidation and performance tweaks 

· Connectivity optimisation 

· Endpoint management 

· Migration to cloud infrastructure 

· Retirement or replacement of unsuitable apps

Realignments for better hybrid work experiences extend to physical office locations. IDC expects that intelligent space and capacity planning solutions to redesign office spaces will be in use at 55% of global enterprises by 2025. These solutions use advances in indoor GIS mapping, analytics and AI to optimise workspaces.

Strategy #2: Community Experiences Drive Collaboration 

Creating communities at work significantly improves employee engagement and outcomes from each interaction. Hybrid work options can deliver outstanding community experiences far superior to those in traditional enterprise collaboration settings.  

Many community experiences may be unplanned, "water cooler" moments. Today’s business users prefer such conversations due to their exposure to mainstream community platforms.

Creation of communities at work requires more than just weekly emailers, virtual townhalls or intranet posts. These conversations between employees go beyond just calendar-driven, face-to-face meetings. A case in point can be collaborative authoring and review of sales proposal drafts over chats for faster turnarounds, instead of protracted email threads.  

Workspace experiences in hybrid models must be highly customised to each employee's specific needs. Models like Gartner’s Human-Centric Work Design can be useful references on this front. 

Individual-focused workplace practices that encourage collaboration with colleagues require a top leadership-driven approach. Complement these with technology that appeals to new-age users conversant with mainstream social media. The constant community-oriented evolution of platforms like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Slack or Basecamp is an indicator of this trend.  

When clubbed with suitable hybrid work policies, community building in the workplace significantly elevates the overall working experience. Popular collaboration platform capabilities that can be used for inhouse community building include: 

  • Huddle rooms 

  • Virtual whiteboards 

  • Online mentoring programs

  • Leaderboards—both virtual and physical 

  • Virtual meetups

  • Social learning platforms 

  • Polls

Strategy #3: Relevant Information, On Demand 

Work arrangements of a more autonomous nature are the hallmark of successful hybrid models. This calls for the allocation of more responsibility and decision-making capabilities to employees.  

Insufficient information access during remote access can be a dampener. For example, these might be in the form of inaccessible application silos, access restrictions or even unavailable network drives. Hybrid work models must focus on consistent digital workspace experiences independent of the employee's location or endpoint device.

Design the organisation's information flows such that it facilitates informed decisions. Information exchanges with third parties like partners and vendors may also be required in certain businesses. This calls for customisation, optimisation or augmentation of the existing tech stack. Upgrades to remote connectivity and endpoint security are must-haves. 

Enterprise search solutions that index and retrieve relevant information, both structured and unstructured, from across the business significantly enhance user experiences. Powered by machine learning, natural language processing and AI, such tools enhance productivity and knowledge management. Robust controls present in these tools ensure access to only the authorised users.  

Find the fine balance between security, compliance and productivity to ensure optimal work experiences. For example, making core applications "mobile-first" is a strategy followed by many organisations to improve information flows. This ensures consistent application experiences, access, security and performance irrespective of the employee's physical location.

Strategy #4: Self-Service Capabilities, Higher Productivity 

Higher levels of employee autonomy must be accompanied by work quality improvements. Use of automation and self-service capabilities go a long way on this front.  

Automation of mundane, repetitive tasks significantly enhances hybrid work experiences. Such initiatives free up your employees for more engaging, higher quality assignments. For instance, robotic process automation is ideal to streamline time-intensive tasks like vendor onboarding, physical form verifications and data entry.   

No-code applications provide another avenue for users to create or personalise applications and workflows. For example, these solutions can be used by business users to customise workspaces and information dashboards.  

Self service capabilities provide a way out of this conundrum. A notable example can be modern contract lifecycle management solutions that feature self-serve capabilities for business users. These solutions allow employees to create initial drafts of fully compliant contracts, which saves time for users and legal experts. Since these capabilities are integrated with Microsoft Word, users can request and assemble drafts with a single, familiar application.