7 ways to meet staff expectations in a hybrid workplace

20 Oct 2021

In a digital-first world, remote or hybrid working models are becoming the norm. As businesses work to stay sustainable in unpredictable conditions, even global enterprises are offering work from anywhere opportunities to keep and attract skilled staff. Here are 7 ways you can keep up with the market and protect your business from employee churn.

  1. Prioritise health and safety

    Research shows that employees rank health and safety as a top five concern - and 86% of employers are already planning on enhancing workplace safety1

    Whatever business you’re in, health and safety policies and processes that protect your staff and your clients are non-negotiable. It goes beyond a safe, clean and healthy work site - if workers can be anywhere, their health and safety is still your responsibility.

    Depending on where your business is located, you’ll need to stay across restrictions, lockdowns, and employment law that covers vaccinations, travel and your duty of care for work from home staff.

  2. Offer genuine mobility and flexible work policies

    The yo-yo effect of Covid-19 has pushed flexibility on where and when we work to the forefront. Pre-pandemic, the promise of flexible workplaces wasn’t always realised as companies feared a drop in productivity or a disintegration of teamwork and collaboration.

    The good news - 78% of staff2 say they’re just as productive (or more productive) when working remotely. To make it work, leadership needs to:
    • demonstrate they trust staff and lead by example to work remotely
    • keep an eye on success metrics rather than visibility in the office
    • invest in creating a workplace culture where remote work is an everyday option
    • avoid micromanagement - 31% of staff say they experience greater scrutiny via virtual management3
    • encourage breaks during remote work - ABC research found that only 26% of workers were encouraged to take short breaks in the working day4.

    Culture is key. In practice, this can mean a commitment to mobile-friendly applications – more than just your email and calendar – but customising key business apps to be mobile-friendly. Mobile versions are no longer a ‘nice to have’ or an afterthought, they’re non-negotiable.

  3. Invest in tools to equip and empower employees

    People are adaptable - especially from the Millennial workforce onwards that were born digital. Staff have adapted to remote technologies and they expect employers to do the same and lead the charge towards user-centric technology.

    Don’t assume the tech that worked on-site is up to the job for remote work - your people may need different hardware, apps and technology policies to be successful. Think about their tech needs beyond a phone and a laptop. If employees are attending virtual meetings, do they have an internet connection up to the task? How is their camera? Lighting? Sound quality? Virtual communication won’t always be perfect, but it’s a business imperative to give people the tools they need - 84% of employees5 are looking for better digital tools.

    If you’re not sure what technology could assist your staff as they work from their spare bedroom, home office, or the kitchen bench - ask them. Creating a staff feedback loop that has some tangible impacts will help staff feel heard and stay on track.

  4. Nurture a new mindset in your IT leaders

    There’s an age-old battle between what IT decides and frustrated users. It’s understandable that staff may need to work within mandated software and apps for the key apps and needs – but don’t let policy be so stringent that new tools are disregarded.

    Ask staff what’s working for them. If they’re using something new, be prepared to listen and learn to understand the gap in capability they are trying to fill. Forcing your IT department to dictate use and enforce outdated policies creates a divide with staff. Reposition your IT team as a service centre with customers – your staff.

  5. Don’t shy away from supporting mental health

    We’ve touched on hygiene and health - but there is a silent epidemic that has the potential to devastate the workforce. In late 2020, 29% of employees6 described themselves as being left “depressed” by the Covid-19 pandemic.

    Not every employee will have the same family, living or personal circumstances; mental health support may look different for each individual. For some staff, it’s having flexibility to care for children or elderly family members - for others it’s about having access to an employee assistance program that offers free, confidential counselling and support.

    The pandemic has made it impossible for most of us to separate our work and our personal lives - if your business can step up as a support for the whole person rather than monitor them via productivity or absenteeism - you are one step closer to ensuring their wellbeing and their loyalty.

  6. Bite the bullet and allow use of personal devices

    No one wants to carry 2 versions of every device around. As the line blurs between work and life, offer employees choice on bringing their own device (BYOD) or going all in with company hardware configured to allow for personal use without compromising data security.

    This may mean some tough conversations with your IT team - endpoint security is not to be taken lightly. But without a change in this policy, you may find your skilled teams looking for a role where work is simplified and the grass is a little greener.

  7. Shift your thinking on training and skills development

    Upskilling and career development can’t take a backseat forever to managing change and staying productive from anywhere.

    Shake off the idea that upskilling staff is preparing them for a new job somewhere else - you can’t retain every employee in this competitive environment, and you shouldn’t want to. Focus on making everyday working life easier and you’ll keep the best of the bunch.

Keeping up with change or lagging behind? Let us help you power up your hybrid workplace.

Hybrid Working

1 https://www.ey.com/en_gl/workforce/how-employers-and-employees-are-envisioning-the-reimagined-workplace
2 https://www.capterra.com.au/blog/1818/remote-working-statistics-consider-2021-remote-work-policies
3 https://www.capterra.com.au/blog/1818/remote-working-statistics-consider-2021-remote-work-policies
4 https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-03-24/two-thirds-of-australians-want-to-keep-work-remotely-pwc-survey/13270024
5 https://www.ey.com/en_au/workforce/how-employers-and-employees-are-envisioning-the-reimagined-workplace
6 https://www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/2020-03-14-gartner-hr-survey-finds-more-than-one-quarter-of-the-workforce-describes-itself-as-depressed-as-a-result-of-the-covid-19-pandemic