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How to thrive in the future of work?

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to be sure, but a vital element that leaders must figure out early is culture if they want to embrace the future of work.

The future of work needs to be a transformational in its approach, one which will facilitate both a hybrid and flexible culture that benefits the employee and the company. A flexible and hybrid culture helps people integrate work into their life, giving people the freedom of choice when it comes to the role work plays in their own lifes. 

While this kind of transformation is unique to each company, there’s one thing these organizations have in common: they take a people-first approach. They understand that to thrive in today’s new world of work, they must listen to their employees.

This is the right direction to go, considering prevailing employee sentiments and preferences. According to the ONS, more than three-quarters (78%) of those who worked from home in some capacity said that being able to work from home gave them an improved work life balance. Giving employees some freedom of choice on how and where they wish to work leads to better worker wellbeing and are less likely to burn out. 

Build a Culture That Enables Choice
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to be sure, but a vital element that leaders must figure out early is culture if they want to embrace the future of work. This means fostering an environment that focuses on employees and gives them a choice while providing better ways for them to do their jobs and collaborate.

Successful hybrid work programs re-examine the intersection between people, place, and technology, including the time we spend working remotely versus on-site, and the tools and spaces we use to collaborate. Many now offer three working models under this program: home-based, hybrid, and worksite-based. 

This means we have a choice in how we work, and don’t all have to be in an office Monday to Friday. The flexibility to work from anywhere can be really empowering and rewarding to employees. For example, it may mean they can help care for their young children or an elderly family members during the day while continuing to deliver value to the company and its clients.

Leading with kindness and empathy goes a long way in motivating people and gaining their trust while driving productivity at work.

Communicate Expectations
As leaders develop practices for their hybrid setup, they must get communication right early on. Clarity around expectations for going into the office and attending meetings is important. I’m sure many of us have gone into the office just for the sake of it. But face-to-face meetings and engagement activities must be planned to make the most of everyone’s time.

The same is true for virtual meetings. While it’s vital to keep everyone connected, leaders must avoid overwhelming employees and leaving them with little time to deliver quality work. A recent global survey* found that 64% of respondent workers, managers, and senior executives feel burned out from having too many meetings. Around 79% of workers believe their quality of work would be better with fewer meetings.

Technology can be part of the solution too. Cutting-edge digital tools can help organizations engage their people more efficiently while encouraging greater collaboration and creativity. Immersive meeting technologies, for example, streamline work processes and offer a space for collaborative work. 

Having said that, virtual meetings can’t replace the value of meeting someone in person. Face-to-face meetings have this powerful way of helping people build connection and trust. Once that’s established, digital tools are a great way to stay connected and maintain relationships.

Ensure Equity
Now more than ever, it’s important to address questions around inclusion and equity. If employees are allowed varying levels of flexibility, it can lead to feelings of unfairness. This can harm productivity and even employee retention. 

Meeting equity, for example, has become a major issue as organizations deal with the challenge of giving everyone equal opportunities to participate in meetings, whether they join in person or remotely. Hybrid meetings tend to be less inclusive than all-virtual or purely in-person gatherings, due to participants’ different setups and locations. Typically, these meetings require a more proactive and managed approach, together with innovative tools, to give everyone an opportunity to make an impact.

One good thing that has come out of this is that many leaders are thinking about their cultures and practices, and are exploring how to become more equitable organizations. They’re finding ways to create more inclusive meetings, where everyone gets the same opportunities to engage and contribute regardless of where or how they join. 

For organizations that are just about to create hybrid practices and processes, it’s important to keep inclusion and equity in mind when designing new ways of working. And what better way to start than to listen to diverse teams and employees, and make sure their voices are heard and taken into account?

Leading the Future of Work
These are challenging yet exciting times in the world of work. Leaders have a rare opportunity to transform their organizations’ ways of working and make them more engaging, meaningful, flexible, and inclusive. 

With the right strategy and tools, and a culture that focuses on people and allows choice, organizations can harness the opportunities in the future of work.

*Survey by y BlueJeans by Verizon

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