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How to optimise employee experience for new realities

Employees want flexibility. They are even willing to leave the organization if they cannot choose their location and working hours. As we see this shift towards hybrid working, the importance of maintaining a high-quality employee experience, both online and in-person, becomes paramount. Let’s delve into actionable strategies to enhance Employee Experience in a hybrid work setting.

While many organizations are backtracking on remote work, most global companies still use some form of hybrid work model. There’s a reason for this: employees want flexibility. They are even willing to leave the organization if they cannot choose their location and working hours.

According to the 2023 Global State of Internal Communications survey, the hybrid work format is the most common work environment organization in 2023. Also, 53% of companies report they have an action plan for opening offices and transitioning from remote work to a hybrid model.

As we see this shift towards hybrid working, the importance of maintaining a high-quality employee experience, both online and in-person, becomes paramount. Let’s delve into actionable strategies to enhance Employee Experience in a hybrid work setting.

  1. Enhance Interaction: Foster Virtual Water Coolers

The challenge with remote and hybrid work formats is recreating the spontaneous conversations and unplanned meetings that occur in a physical office. Steve Jobs highly valued such team interactions and even designed Pixar’s offices to encourage these random encounters. 

Alternating between online and in-person events is crucial to ensure everyone can participate in meetings comfortably. For instance, our company recently organized an online quest where participants, although physically in different parts of the world, were grouped into teams in real-time to conduct a detective investigation.

During this event, we got to know each other and even shared some time over tea, virtually. These informal interactions foster a sense of community and belonging among colleagues, which is invaluable in non-traditional work settings.

  1. Craft Seamless Hybrid Events

Organizing an engaging offline event was once a highlight in the past, but in today’s world, it has become increasingly challenging. Now, it’s essential to blend online and offline activities, creating a space where colleagues can communicate seamlessly in both physical and virtual environments.

For instance, this year we organized an online radio event for Valentine’s Day. Colleagues requested their favorite songs, sent greetings and messages of affection to their teams, which the DJ then announced live. The host also led quizzes and awarded prizes. We paired this online activity with an offline party at one of our offices.

This approach allowed everyone to participate in the corporate event, either online or offline, embracing the best traditions of events designed for hybrid teams.

  1. Codify Your Culture: Refine the Code of Conduct

One of the challenges of remote and hybrid work environments is the difficulty in fully absorbing the spirit of the company’s culture and staying aligned with the team.

Therefore, it’s vital to place significant emphasis on work ethics and both offline and online communication within the Code of Conduct. While this set of principles may not solve every problem or offer a one-size-fits-all answer for every scenario, it can help to establish the ethos guiding the company’s business practices and how the team interacts on a daily basis.

  1. Build a Culture of Transparency and Accountability

This point might seem less obvious in a discussion about Employee Experience, but in my view, the system of reporting and transparent communication within a company are crucial for effective hybrid work in the long term.

If people don’t feel a sense of equality and fairness within the team, they quickly lose motivation. In a distributed team, opportunities to learn about organizational happenings, what colleagues in other departments are working on, and who is contributing to the company’s successes are scarce. Having a well-established internal communications function is beneficial, but it’s not a complete solution: research indicates that, on average, a third of employees don’t read news from their employers.

Transparency and clarity regarding areas of responsibility can be enhanced through special events. For example, the All Hands format, where department heads discuss achievements and outline plans for the upcoming period, can be particularly effective.

  1. Personalize Benefits: Beyond Schedule and Workplace Flexibility

With the new paradigm of hybrid work, the approach to the benefits system also needs to be rethought.

For instance, Innovecs office has a gym available for team members, but this may not be convenient for those who visit the office infrequently or live in other cities. To address this, in our benefits system, every employee can compose an individual benefits package. This way, colleagues can choose compensation for a gym membership in their city.

Another example of this flexibility is allowing team members to choose a gift for milestones like work anniversaries or weddings.

From my experience, and in line with market trends, I’ve found that creating an exceptional Employee Experience requires double the effort for hybrid teams. However, by understanding employee priorities and urgent needs, we can focus on developing specific programs and initiatives that significantly enhance the work experience within the company.

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