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Optimising hybrid work models with process automation

The rise in hybrid working has reinforced to us that no one approach to work suits everyone. But similar to the pandemic that required technology to maintain productivity and efficiency, the return to the office will again require digital tech to work effectively.

During the pandemic, many businesses successfully made the transition to adapt their working environment to enable remote work by drawing on technology to drive productivity and efficiency. 

However, as employees return to the office in some capacity and hybrid working is increasingly becoming the norm, businesses will once again rely on digital tools to help them iron out the new challenges associated with a hybrid work model. Challenges include managing organisational culture, building employee engagement and driving productivity. 

The latest figures from the Office of National Statistics show that the proportion of hybrid workers has risen in 2022 while the number of employees working exclusively from home has decreased. So these inherent challenges won’t go away. 

With that in mind, organisations that wish to drive productivity and employee engagement will have to focus on optimising their hybrid work models to make sure employees can be as productive and as engaged off-site as they are on-site.

The challenge
Hybrid work plays an important role in employee well-being as well as talent retention. According to Gartner, 55% of employees they surveyed reported that whether or not they can work flexibly will impact if they stay with an organisation. Unsurprisingly, business leaders must consider investing in new tools and initiatives to better support a hybrid workforce or face losing mission-critical talent.

Additionally, if a business is overly reliant on manual processes, a hybrid work environment may limit visibility into process management, and create barriers to collaboration across teams. Working in silos can lead to process inefficiency as teams may double up on certain tasks or fail to follow through on other procedures. In fact, we know 38% of companies with over 5000 employees are still frustrated by repetitive manual processes. 

These manual processes also limit the time senior executives can spend on tasks that create higher value. The future CFO study found that 91% of CFOs have to carry out manual tasks for their jobs. Amongst their key frustrations was not having enough time to spend on strategic tasks. 

What can business leaders do about this?

Create an efficient hybrid work environment
Hybrid work models thrive in digital environments. Businesses can drive digital initiatives forward, beginning with low hanging fruit such as digitising manual processes. With process automation initiatives, process management in a hybrid environment becomes significantly more efficient. Employees are immediately empowered to manage and interact with workstreams in a new way and can quickly complete tasks that previously required face-to-face interactions, because the processes in between have been automated. 

Technology vendors have also evolved to offer low-code process automation platforms that empower both technical and non-technical users to automate complex processes and work streams such as legal, customer service, or sales processes. With processes clearly mapped out, and repetitive manual tasks automated, procedures are much easier to track.

Transform your organisational processes
Here are some important steps to ensuring process automation platforms are deployed in a way that improves hybrid work environments:

  • Start at the beginning

It is important to start by identifying the processes that are most suited to digitising and automating. Business leaders must engage with their workforce to understand the pain points around the organisation and then develop new automated processes to simplify those workflows. For instance, consider automating report submissions, expenses, desk booking systems, or remote work requests and then move to more complex workflows. 

  • Process mapping

Process mapping includes breaking down processes into individual stages to make sure what the platform pulls is the information that is required at each step. This can be challenging in organisations that lack visibility into their processes especially if these are mostly manual. Prioritise a process automation platform that has built-in tools that facilitate process mapping quickly and accurately. 

  • Recreate your workflow

Once processes are mapped, it becomes much easier to build out efficient workflows for hybrid environments. Users can connect systems and data to process management platforms to enable hybrid workers to rapidly access the information they need, making it easier to fill out forms or file reports. Complex tasks can be simplified and automated to save time and reduce human error.

As more and more employees are working remotely, there will be fewer opportunities to complete processes manually and in-person. With process automation in place, bottlenecks within workplace productivity and performance can be addressed immediately, satisfying the requirements of your employees and customers alike. 

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