The pandemic changed how we think about a lot of things, including how we work in our office buildings. For many, the workspace went from being a location to a concept. It went from being defined by desks to being defined by apps. We no longer need to travel to the office—now, the workplace comes directly to us.
This change hasn’t been frictionless for every organization. Pre-existing processes and established corporate cultures made the transition to a remote, and then eventually a hybrid, workforce tricky for many companies. But how we adapt to the reimagining of what the workplace is (and should be) will define how we work for generations and distinguish the winning companies from the losers.
Companies are starting to think about the physical workspace as an extension of the digital workspace, not visa versa. That means incorporating digital workspace solutions like video conferencing, shared docs, cloud-based databases, and collaboration platforms into the physical workplace. Hybrid meeting technology like individual cameras provides remote workers the same presence as those in the office. These solutions are only part of the effort to change the way we work. Organizations also have to adapt their processes to fully embrace hybrid work.
As to how employees work, an organization’s managers may need to re-strategize their management styles. For instance, one of the hardest adjustments has to do with trust. Managers who are used to seeing workers in an office can become distrustful that their employees will put just as much effort in remote and hybrid scenarios as they would in the physical office space. This is a normal reaction for someone tasked with managing others. But, as a recent Gallup poll found, focusing on the amount of time spent working can often be counterproductive. The organizations that experienced the least amount of employee dissatisfaction and burnout point their focus on supporting employees, not tracking employee work hours.
“The path to performance excellence is built on trust and relationships, not increased monitoring or arbitrary metrics of busyness. Employee engagement captures the intrinsic motivation of workers when they feel supported and connected to their team.”Gallup Research
The Gallup report goes on to say that performance excellence is built on trust and relationships, not increased monitoring or arbitrary business metrics. Tracking employee engagement, rather than just output, captures the intrinsic motivation of workers when people feel supported and connected to their team. Great managers generate trust through relationships and motivate their staff to work harder instead of just looming over them to ensure they are doing their jobs. The report also advises companies to reengineer their performance management systems and retrain their managers to become proper developmental performance coaches.
As managers become “performance coaches,” they must find new ways to measure performance. A study by MIT found that the companies that had the best performance were the ones that excelled in two key areas: responsive leadership and employee connectedness.
“Companies that invested most heavily in both employee connectedness and responsive leadership reported an average of 76 percent (of a possible 100 percent) on our combined industry-related performance measure,” the report said. “In contrast, those with the lowest combined scores reported an average performance of just 48 percent.” Better communication techniques and more supportive management styles can help companies raise their scores in both categories and hopefully perform better as a whole.
As much as remote working solutions are spilling into the workplace, our work is also crossing the boundaries of our home life. Remote and hybrid work can create more engaged, and therefore more productive, workers, but it can also lead to burnout if companies are not careful. The same MIT study also pointed out the dangers of a highly connected workforce. “If unresolved, all of this connectedness can lead to employee burnout,” it said. “Employees may feel unable to fully disengage from work or possibly feel tracked by their company. This growing problem of burnout and being constantly ‘tethered’ to work by mobile devices, email, or other digital formats results in lost productivity and high turnover for companies.”
The future of the office hinges on what the future of work will be. We have likely not yet landed on the final iteration of our post-pandemic work world, but we do know a few things about it. We know that it will be both in-person and remote. We know that it will be powered by collaboration and productivity solutions. We know that it will require a change in traditional management styles. And we know that if we are not careful, it can cause the kind of burnout that is not healthy for workers or the organization.
Our lifestyles and work habits are evolving, and the business leaders who proactively support that evolution with adaptive processes and technologies will be stronger for it.
Reimagine work to elevate your people and productivity
Business leaders are wrestling with tough questions right now: Do we return to the office, or implement hybrid or remote models? What is best for our employees, customers, and company? What model is most productive, employee-friendly, and suitable for our unique company culture and ways of working? Whatever we choose, how can we make it successful? What will this choice mean for our tech stack, policies, hiring, real estate, and more?
Join Zoom for a free half-day virtual event exploring these questions and more, as you look for the answers that will empower you to create a successful remote, hybrid, or co-located work model going forward. The Work Transformation Summit promises to inspire Zoom partners to learn more about how they can use Zoom to transform their organization’s definition of work starting now.