It is already the third year of the new working world. At first we were interrupted and then we improvised. And now we are in the new normal. Employers and workers have created a new workplace that is hybrid, agile and interdependent. These changes, initiated in years of crisis, are here to stay for a simple business reason: they give a competitive advantage to organizations that embrace them.
The cycle of change in business is gaining momentum. Twenty years ago, cloud computing was a novelty; by 2021, 50% of all corporate data will be stored in the cloud because of its many advantages. The same is true of today’s innovations in hybrid, agile and interdependent work arrangements: they add value to the enterprise. With a focus on the workforce, these are the most promising changes according to Eric Mosley in Forbes:
Hybrid is more than remote
The Accenturese report titled “Productive Anywhere” found that 83% of workers felt that a hybrid model is optimal. Hybrid workers had better mental health, stronger working relationships and were more likely to feel better than full-time on-site workers. Safety is just one reason: hybrid workers feel they have a better quality of life, more freedom to take productive breaks, and useful technology. It’s not just about being remote, the study finds. It’s about working in a smart, digitally mature, agile and supportive organization.
Workhuman’s recent Human Work Index survey found that 40% of people returning to the office were happy to be back for a number of reasons, the most prominent being social: people are simply happy to see each other in person again. However, remember that each employee’s needs are unique and the remaining 60% want to maintain their flexibility. That means HR must create ways to connect that transcend time and distance.
Agile is more than development
Agile began as a software development model, and its concepts are well suited to workforce management. For HR executives and managers, agile means letting go of “the way we do things around here” and designing work around people, not processes. We’re seeing a lot of this lately as leading companies create cross-functional partnerships to take full advantage of new technologies.
For example, artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing are helping managers improve their most human functions: feedback and performance management. Key human qualities in an agile environment are adaptability, curiosity, respect for others and a growth mindset. As it happens, those are exactly the qualities that are also rewarded in a hybrid environment. When employees say they want hybrid flexibility, it’s only partly about scheduling; it’s also about the ability to set up teams in a way that gets the job done.
Interdependent means more than working together
Ironically, the hybrid and agile models created by technology mean that human skills are even more important in day-to-day work. As your team becomes more responsible for managing itself, members need empathy, common purpose, open-mindedness and transparency, as well as listening skills.
Building a humane workplace like this is not a one-time initiative. It requires moving a company’s culture toward goodwill and positivity while maintaining high standards of performance. CEOs and other executives need to talk about the fact that people depend on each other in human terms as teammates, not just as skilled players in a big innovation machine.
Employees see connection in the workplace as indispensable. People need to recognize each other’s accomplishments. They need to celebrate life milestones inside and outside of work. Talent leaders need to tell the stories of those who take risks to learn and grow.
Finally, many people did not see that the pandemic would disrupt the traditional work model; we can’t even say for sure that it is going forward. One thing we are sure of is that for many organizations the changes brought new opportunities, especially a hybrid, agile and interdependent environment, because it is here to stay. It is up to us how to adapt to this new reality.