Will Blended Working Take Over From Home Working?
Home-working was recently created for our workplaces through necessity, but blended-working for our employees maybe the future, more long-term normal. In this article, we look at ways to listen to your staff to create a blended working environment that improves your business across the board.
As organisations, we begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But what’s on the other side for our new blended workplace? Can we expect the same perceived environment and behaviour that we’ve just left behind, or should we prepare for completely different arrangements?
Our effectiveness of support for employees, regardless of location or structure, will ensure psychological benefits through motivation, satisfaction, and competence in all our behaviours.
As leaders, we should be preparing for the unknown and unprecedented change. We need to look forward positively, reviewing flexible employment, and the digital, social and personal impacts of these. Do not throw the baby out with the bathwater, but rather galvanise your existing labour resources and grow into the new landscape together.
We believe the future brings with it positive opportunities to adapt and grow and to do better than before. Much of our ability to do this will depend on how we approach learning and how we can best apply it to innovate within our organisations. Nothing must negatively impact our employees, so ensuring our teams share their experience, differences, behaviour and consequences with us, we are able to build a blended working environment with a strong foundation for a great company culture.
The purpose of this article is to highlight some of the areas we may look at and reflect upon to ascertain whether we’re doing well or what may have a little room for improvement. We’ve tried to narrow this down to 5 areas for consideration.
Adopt a Learning Culture Throughout the Workplace
The world is changing faster than ever, and with it comes a need to understand what opportunities those changes may bring.
Before the pandemic, we assumed that working from home would encourage ‘cyberslacking’, but many studies have seen productivity increase. Our staff have all been extremely resilient in adapting from a traditional working environment, to digital, remote collaboration.
Companies should actively encourage individuals and teams across the organisation to embrace experimentation and risk and acknowledge that there’ll be unexpected events. Becoming comfortable with these realities empowers organisations to manage change in their stride and to almost be entrepreneurial in their approach to work, or intrapreneurial as the case may be. A communal approach of this type also enables better communication. It relieves pressure on any individual who may take sole responsibility for new initiatives if they can share proposals with others they feel are adaptable and forward-thinking.
This workforce’s empowerment lessens the burden of managing and anticipating the workforce’s future in the ever-changing labour market. Research shows that 85% of jobs expected in 2030 don’t yet exist. Will’ your guys’ be able to adapt and thrive? Will they be able to take your organisation into an unknown future with confidence? Promoting a culture of learning and growth within the organisation improves your internal resources for change management and enhances a company’s overall standard in the face of change.
Your Culture is Your Strength to Blended Working
More and more, we’ve seen that companies with a desirable culture attract the best workforce.
Staff are realising that home-working is not as good as initially hoped. Merging home and work, was initially refreshing; but, the social interaction that we needed for our mental health was soon realised. From this, became a future option of blended working. Taking the benefits of working from home, and uniting them with the social connectivity achieved within offices. However, staff preference varies massively between the ratio of home-working to office-working.
With new tools such as LinkedIn and Glassdoor providing professionals with a sneak peek into what it might be like to work for a company, the best get to cherry-pick. Make your culture your strength. But, do not forget, your culture comes from your employees, following successful practices that establish their own levels of behaviour and satisfaction.
To clearly define your company’s core values and how you work sets yourself apart from your competitors. Whether it’s “better” or not is almost secondary. That it’s clear promotes clarity of direction, removes surprise, and connects your organisation with a like-minded workforce regarding how they work to maximise productivity. It sets a clear precedent for employees old and new on expectations and streamlines company processes.
Furthermore, it would help if you worked to devise your own. Company cultures are difficult, if not impossible, to replicate, so you must strive to find your identity as a company and be that culture. Slogans won’t cut it. Set out your principles to ensure a long-lasting cohesive organisation.
Empower Decision Making
A recent McKinsey survey found that organisations who make decisions quickly are twice as likely to make high-quality decisions than those who over deliberate. High-quality choices lead to better outcomes and give an organisation an edge over its competitors. These quicker decisions are made more intuitively and in the company’s interest if the culture is embedded and a learning mindset is achieved throughout the organisation, coupled with a decision-making system that touches the right people and protocols throughout the company.
This means giving the right people the necessary permissions to action what is required on a personnel level. This can be in regards to acquiring the right talent or promoting the essential training needed to upskill a division or particular management level, for example. These are traditionally long-winded processes with much red tape. Still, with clear communication lines, decision-making empowerment and the right technology, a company can be as agile in its hiring processes as it can be with its technical development. Now when decisions can be time critical, post-covid, organisations must move with the goalposts and absorb changes in a new, faster-paced world.
Your Talent Can Be Your Biggest Asset
Nailing your company culture is critical for securing the best talent, and the best companies treat their talent like their scarcest resource. For most organisations, their most considerable overhead is labour, so make sure you act accordingly towards your talent acquisition processes.
Unlike acquiring the right software or premises, talent acquisition is a far more difficult task. There are many complex variables and questions you must answer before you find the right person for the job. You have to understand what you need from a recruit. This is less difficult to achieve if your culture, values and objectives are crystal clear. So take your time to decipher the answers to these questions and create your role specifications to match.
Given the resource is an expensive one, you must also ask yourself, “Do we already have the individual within our organisation?” Internal upskilling and promotion will give a company a significant advantage in moving forward with new or changing initiatives in future. Internal hires will already know the company culture and processes. They’ll already know other personnel and can better hit the ground running. It can also be a mechanism for pushing existing employees to drive their professional development. If they can see their peers progress, then why can’t they? The by-product of which is better engagement and productivity. It also communicates assurance and confidence in the company’s professional development programmes.
Furthermore, less external hiring activity from a performing company promotes demand from outside talent. Such is the human-animal with regards to scarcity. The less supply of something good, the higher, the more lucrative a position becomes, the greater the want.
Data is Information Waiting to Become Blended Learning Knowledge
As daunting and overwhelming as data can sometimes be, every organisation must make effective decisions. Companies that hope to survive and thrive and have a long term view take data extremely seriously. Without it, you’re simply ‘shooting from the hip’. Collecting the data needed for setting the right Key Performance Indicators (KPI) to take your company forward to blended learning is not something that you should do on a whim, but that should drive all your activities.
Take Tinder, for example. A controversial choice for a serious blog, perhaps, but their core KPI of ‘swipes’ illustrates this point eloquently. Their features and promotions lean towards generating more swipes from their users, which demonstrates to the tech company the engagement levels they’re currently acquiring from the user base. Does a feature or promotion generate more swipes? Should it, therefore, be included? Although it’s a simple example, understanding this goal supports the business’s decision-making processes and somewhat guides employees throughout the organisation with such a precise top-level KPI.
With regards to hiring and employee management, you should also lay out clear goals and objectives. Are your aims to increase productivity in a specific area, reduce cost, reduce churn, grow your talent pool, expedite your rate of hiring contingency workers? Clearly understanding what will ultimately drive your hiring decisions enables faster, more confident decisions from those required to make them.