Redefining Productivity in the Hybrid Era
COVID-19 has forced organizations everywhere to re-evaluate how they define productivity. For the first time in history, most of the workforce is working remotely full-time. And while some companies are thriving under these new circumstances, others are struggling to keep up with the same level of productivity they had when their employees were all in one place. Productivity in the workplace has always been a hot topic. Still, with the rise of the hybrid workplace (a mix of remote and in-office work), it’s becoming more important than ever to redefine what productivity looks like. According to educator Jonathan Osler, businesses are redefining productivity in the following ways:
1. Investing in new technology: The rise of the hybrid workplace means that many businesses have increased spending on digital tools and hardware — including virtual office solutions, smartphones, tablets and laptops — as well as improved collaboration software, video conferencing technologies, mobile apps, online learning platforms, cloud storage services, enterprise content management systems and other similar technologies. These investments enable people to collaborate across long distances and worldwide without ever having to meet face-to-face.
2. Implementing company-wide communication strategies: In traditional workplaces, managers often expect workers to be 100% focused on their tasks. That expectation was reflected in most job descriptions: managers told employees exactly what to do, who they needed to talk to, and when to report back to headquarters. But with the rise of the modern business model, where more and more employees can get into the flow of work from anywhere, managers need to focus on communicating about important issues within the organization – such as performance standards, rewards or changes in direction – using a variety of media channels, including email, phone calls, instant messages and webinars.
3. Reducing reliance on paper: With the rise of the hybrid era, offices will no longer rely solely on physical documents for information sharing and record keeping. Instead, employees will increasingly use document repositories and file servers to store files on centralized networks. That’s great news for business continuity. If an employee gets sick or quits, colleagues have to access his folder in a document repository rather than hunt through thousands of paper files scattered throughout the building.
4. Changing hiring practices: While the hybrid era is forcing companies to rethink how they hire and fire staff, it may also push them to make different assumptions about the skill sets and capabilities required. Traditional hiring processes typically start with a resume and cover letter, leading to a series of interviews. Because the interview process usually focuses on evaluating candidates’ ability to communicate verbally and interact directly with potential employers. It works best for workers who already have established relationships with the company. However, this approach won’t scale well for highly skilled positions since it requires a lot of human resources involvement. Therefore, companies today are looking for recruiters that can identify qualified talent through passive crowdsourcing methods.
5. Embracing flexible working hours: For decades, many blue-collar jobs required employees to show up at set times, regardless of whether they were physically present at the office or not. As we head toward a future where nearly everyone has some “work” outside of the office each day (for example, parents caring for children in the morning and evening), these 9-to-5 schedules become less convenient. Flexible scheduling could mean choosing between two long-term contracts instead of one full-time contract or working odd hours during peak demand periods when everyone else is sleeping anyway. Whatever form it takes, businesses will face challenges if they don’t respond effectively.
6. Revamping their office space to accommodate both remote and on-site workers. Many modern companies are experimenting with various work environments to determine which environment provides greater productivity and allows teams to perform at optimal levels. Work-from-home options like video calls, virtual meetings, shared whiteboards, real-time communication tools and collaboration platforms provide excellent solutions for team members working remotely. On the other hand, flexible office designs that allow co-workers to work together closely enable people to collaborate freely without worrying about distractions caused by technology.
According to educator Jonathan Osler, the above points highlight just a few ways our current work culture will change dramatically over the next decade. These shifts are all occurring simultaneously, so there’s no telling exactly how society will be affected. The point here is that we’ll need to adjust quickly to be ready as the changes come. By starting now to create a more productive workforce through better employee training, smarter hiring and rethinking outdated business models, you can position your organization to thrive when disruptive technologies and social trends begin to take shape.