Success in the hybrid work era hinges on communication

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It’s time to embrace that the future of work is location agnostic. According to IDC, “intelligent digital workspaces” that deliver a single, new integrated technology experience to employees are becoming the status quo as teams continue working across locations, time zones, and devices.

About the author

Dorian Stone, Head of Organizations Revenue, Grammarly.

To successfully usher in new hybrid models and succeed in the digital workplace, organizations must revisit technology investments and reinvent operations with agility. However, one overlooked factor prevents leaders from driving growth and embracing these new realities: poor communication.

Two years into remote work, ineffective communication is widespread in the workplace—and it’s significantly costing businesses. According to a new study of business leaders and knowledge workers from Grammarly and The Harris Poll, U.S. businesses lose an estimated $1.2 trillion annually due to poor workplace communication—or approximately $12,506 per employee every year. That’s the equivalent of over 5% of America’s GDP.

So how can businesses evolve this potential threat into an opportunity? If done properly, reimagining communication with the help of AI and automation will allow organizations to deliver a new workforce experience—and redefine productivity and engagement in the new era of work.

Meet new demands by overcoming the cost of poor communication

Effective communication is the backbone of any hybrid work strategy—essential to keeping teams productive, in sync, and engaged in a dispersed environment. However, many leaders have historically overlooked the impact of communication, considering it a soft skill that they cannot address through investments or that does not translate directly to results.

The reality is that poor workplace communication has direct and far-reaching effects on the ability to achieve business goals. Not only is the monetary loss unignorable, but over nine in 10 business leaders also say poor communication impacts productivity, morale, and company growth, contributing to increased costs, missed or extended deadlines, and reputational erosion. One in five business leaders has even lost business or deals due to poor communication.

The cost of ineffective communication is more apparent now than ever with the increasing technological complexities that have become standard in our new hybrid work reality. With increasing globalization, higher expectations for workplace flexibility, and an emphasis on the employee and customer experience, leaders must lean on technology more than before to keep pace with new demands.

Now is the time to revisit strategies to stand up the hybrid workplace—and those who address these challenges now will gain a competitive advantage.

Redefine productivity through employee empowerment

One critical element for success in a hybrid landscape is optimizing the employee experience—especially as the Great Resignation shows no signs of slowing down. Businesses must equip teams with the right tools and resources to adapt and scale.

Employers recognize the need to better support employees; most business leaders (57%) cite employee satisfaction and retention as a top priority this year—ahead of team productivity and customer satisfaction. But nearly three in four (72%) also say their team struggled to communicate effectively this past year, and leaders (88%) and employees (63%) alike wish they had better tools to do so.

When interactions break down, it causes frustration and a lack of confidence that in turn affect output, growth, and the customer experience. Yet, while platforms like video and messaging tools have largely addressed the “what” of communication, not enough attention has focused on the “how”: balancing speed with more quality, empathy, and consistency.

Engagement is now closely linked to productivity, and leaders need to fundamentally rethink how they communicate in a hybrid environment to deliver new experiences. Investing in more efficient, empathetic communication will make all the difference in empowering teams to rise to new challenges and quickly achieve business results.

Revisit technology with an eye to automation and augmentation

Early in the remote work shift, businesses rushed to deploy all kinds of new productivity and connectivity tools—often inadvertently causing digital overload among teams. Leaders must now be more intentional about technology investments as employee experience has become a critical business driver.

In reworking their toolkit for a hybrid future, the focus should be on reducing complexity with solutions that refresh and optimize existing systems and interactions. In particular, new AI, automation, and augmentation technologies are emerging that can work invisibly alongside employees wherever they are. These technologies—what IDC calls “digital coworkers”—can expand and enhance human capabilities, so much so that leaders can consolidate other investments all while improving the employee experience.

Whether an intelligent chat tool that helps with efficient customer responses or an AI communication assistant to finesse interactions across the board, these types of technologies can also help improve communication without requiring sacrifices between speed and quality. By enhancing productivity in a way that empowers the human at the center, leaders can boost employee satisfaction and retention while delivering a better experience for customers.

A look ahead

In the face of ongoing change, success will come down to reducing inefficiencies and friction points that exhaust teams and frustrate customers. By thoughtfully curating technology investments and re-envisioning their approach to communication, leaders will build the right foundation to underpin the hybrid workplace—and position themselves well to meet new operating realities.

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Dorian Stone, Head of Organizations Revenue, Grammarly.