Hybrid working and the company culture glue
There has been a huge shift in attitudes to how, where and when to work, but businesses cannot afford to lose sight of the importance of their company culture to get the best out of employees. Here’s how tech can lend a hand.
Ever since the most severe restrictions from pandemic lockdowns began to ease early in 2021 there have been increasing reports of companies adapting their flexible working policies for good. Atom Bank announced a shift to a four day week without any reduction in pay, for example, while a London stockbroker firm offered unlimited holidays to avoid burnout. A number of SMEs are even abandoning traditional office space altogether and going fully remote.
A survey by the Financial Times found that 73% of women and 63% of men expect to still have a hybrid arrangement of three days a week or fewer in the office once all covid-related restrictions are gone. It would seem that not offering such options will soon become a serious deal-breaker in the talent market.
Offering employees greater flexibility when it comes to arranging their working routines is not only a good PR move, but also it is closely linked with benefits on wellbeing, job satisfaction and productivity. According to another survey by the CIPD, employers think those working from home are as productive as other workers, with 28% believing increased homeworking has increased productivity and 37% not believing there has been any effect at all on pre-pandemic efficiencies.
Offering employees greater flexibility when it comes to arranging their working routines is not only a good PR move, but also it is closely linked with benefits on wellbeing, job satisfaction and productivity.
So good news for productivity and, of course, the multitude of work-enabling technologies which have facilitated this development. But what then happens to cohesion, team spirit and company culture? Afterall, this could be described as the glue that actually holds a business together. In that respect, surely any workforce where employees are disparate through these hybrid approaches will be at a disadvantage? Thankfully, this is not the case.
Minimising the noise
Whatever option a business takes to enhance its flexible working policies, just as technology has aided the functional aspects of working remotely, so too can it aid in bringing employees together for cultural reasons. Acknowledging the differences between technology for functional applications and those for cultural purposes, however, is what will make the difference in a successful switch to hybrid working.
Keeping employees engaged and connected with one another can be very challenging and is why many HR departments are adopting dedicated employee engagement platforms to support them in combating feelings of disconnect. This is because tools such as Zoom, Skype or Slack do not offer enough of a distinction between employee engagement and working channels – they are now simply ingrained as instant messaging tools used for the day-to-day aspects of getting a job done. Trying to use them for engagement purposes can actually stunt the development of a strong company culture, since culture is about so much more than just functional communication.
By having a dedicated engagement platform instead, HR departments can minimise the noise and give employees a clear pathway to the features and functions that will help connect and unite staff in a much more motivational way.
By giving all workers the tools and technologies to create a more connected experience, companies can see better employee satisfaction and overall company culture and business outcomes.
Employee engagement platforms enable communications that help reach both employees and business leaders, allowing them to access and share relevant updates that could be of use either before or after work hours. Fatigue management systems, for example, can flag employees who may be at risk of burning out. Other systems offer notifications for staff to share feedback on wellness issues.
The development of company culture-focused platforms has reinvented the way teams communicate, as well as collaborate. These digital tools can help teams foster a stronger sense of community and when used effectively, technology can create environments in which employees feel challenged, motivated and engaged. To stay competitive, innovation and creative ways to use technology are needed to build and improve company culture.
Investing in your team
Another example of helpful technology are virtual training programmes which provide employees with an ecosystem of tools, knowledge and support to demonstrate their commitment to a positive working culture. Such technological advances have made training and skill development programmes much more compelling, as well as economical. Examples are rich video, video streaming, audio and other shareable content which can quickly and effectively train and up-skill workers and create a rewarding and therefore more positive culture.
While the pandemic acted to force the hand of many employers in moving towards more hybrid working, it really stemmed from employees wanting more flexibility in the first place, both in terms of location and working hours. This is only possible with technology that supports this move.
Choosing the right digital approaches for delivering employee engagement strategies to staff, wherever or whenever they are working, will ensure that company culture and positive corporate identity can be maintained during this move. After all, these changing working practices are clearly here to stay.