The future of hybrid work: Reimagining employee experience

hybrid working
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Over the past two years, the world of work has changed dramatically, perhaps irrevocably, but one thing is certain: flexible work is here to stay.

On the topic of hybrid work, experts have warned against the risk of generalizing hybrid work and argued that ‘one size fits one.’ Companies will lose talent if they think they can go back to pre-Covid workplace rules, because candidates want flexibility. The future of hybrid work now requires companies to reimagine the employee experience and decide what hybrid work should look like.

Research shows employees crave more in-person time with their team but wish to keep the flexibility of remote work. And every person is different – 58 percent of employees who plan to spend the most and least time in-office are doing it for the same reason: more focused work.

remote working

(Image credit: Shutterstock / Creative Lab)

In fact, research revealed that while Covid-19 triggered the ‘virtual age’ of the working world, we are now entering the ‘personalized age’. This new phase of work is essentially all about maximizing convenience and performance, well-being, and productivity. For hybrid work environments to be successful, devices must help people be productive, and enable collaboration with the right balance of power and performance. They also need to be versatile enough to work in different environments, while remaining highly secure.

Technology undeniably plays a fundamental role in the ability of employers to deliver on the requirements of the ‘personalized age’. Whether employees are in the office or working remotely, the digital employee experience is the new employee experience. With flexibility becoming the new reality, it demands technology that powers everyday tasks wherever employees work.

Employees are no longer tied to their desks

With offices opening back up, organizations across the UK are continuing to experiment with hybrid work arrangements. Microsoft’s annual Work Trend Index report found that while 73% of employees want the option to continue to work remotely, 67% want more in-person engagement which further demonstrated just how varied people’s working habits and environments are. The job for employers is to think about how to incorporate flexibility into the way they run the business.

An important lesson of the past two years is that managers embody and instantiate the culture for every organization. Managers are a critical bridge between evolving employee expectations and leadership priorities. If empowered, they hold the key to unlock the potential of hybrid work. Equip them with the resources and training they need to manage the transition. While policy is set at the top, leaders need to decentralize decision-making and empower managers and IT decisions makers (ITDMs) to make change on behalf of their employees’ individual needs.

Empowering workers with the tools they need to work smarter will help organizations to create an inclusive and resilient culture which helps to attract and retain talent. The link between high-powered devices and impact on employee experience and satisfaction in the hybrid working world is clear. The key for organizations and their IT teams is to recognize the individual needs and workstyles of their workforce, securing the right devices and infrastructure investments to make the most of the opportunities that widespread hybrid working has provided.

Enabling hybrid work through adopting the right technology

Technology is seen as essential to those working remotely and having the right technology is essential for workers to do their job effectively. Connectivity, IT infrastructure and communication tools were found to be the most important resources that allowed workers to continue to be effective in their work whilst working remotely. Device Decisions revealed that while most UK employees with a work-related, company-owned device (61%) feel their current device adequately supports their role, one in three (34%) feel it could be better, more powerful, or better suited to working on the go. For hybrid to work, a tech refresh is due. 

Many may have learnt, through this remote working experience, that digital transformation is no longer something that can be postponed but that it is an area of business that requires immediate attention and investment. Organizations cannot tell people to work remotely if their technology infrastructure and processes do not allow employees to do so effectively. Additionally, it is not simply about supplying the equipment but also ensuring a workforce is digitally capable of using the provided tools to their full potential which may require upskilling efforts.

In fact, more than half (55%) of ITDMs report their organization are planning to invest in new devices in 2022 (among those devices listed in the survey). It may seem obvious but having the right hardware can make all the difference to hybrid working and how productive and effective you are, wherever you are.

Surface Portfolio Product Manager, Microsoft UK

Chris Lorigan, Portfolio Product Manager, Microsoft UK.