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Recent studies show that hybrid work came to stay in the world of corporations, but 72% lack a clear strategy.

AT&T has launched a new survey on the future of work. The study, conducted on behalf of AT&T and Dubber Corporation Limited, was composed of 303 United States-based respondents, 87% above director level, across five key industries, with more than one-million employees represented and 34% with companies over $1 billion in revenue.

The survey was created to gain insights from senior executives regarding current and future work models, challenges posed under new working models and technology accelerants to aid change in the way that businesses conduct work out to 2024. The results were – for us – not a surprise: 

Hybrid work isn’t without challenges 🛠

Disruption has empowered many organizations and workforces to make rapid decisions to adapt to change more easily. But this came with its cost:

Employees complained, for example, that they were forced to commute three hours roundtrip to work in a cubicle, only to find that the folks they need to collaborate with aren’t even in the office.

Wouldn’t you feel frustrated, sending emails and jumping on Zoom calls in the office by yourself when you could have stayed home – saving money and gas?

We get your point. However, results reveal that this is not a lack of alternatives, businesses lack to find their best hybrid strategy because they are not taken care of. The survey found that many workers are now feeling the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. They are finding it hard to adapt to the new ways of working and are concerned about the lack of oversight. But the good news is that we’re learning quickly where the biggest obstacles lie and how to minimize them in advance.

Employers should not expect work environments and practices to snap back to a pre-pandemic reality. 

A new study from Ceridian found that 27 per cent of organizations are currently working in a hybrid model, while 34 per cent are working remotely. Not all of them are lacking culture, so what are they doing differently?

➡️ They respect the “5C challenges”: communication, coordination, connection, creativity, and culture 

Some companies, managers, and employees have been familiar with the five Cs for a long time because they’ve worked with geographically distributed, virtual teams for many years, others have to learn from these challenges:

🟠 Communication can be difficult when you have a remote team.

We’ve all had to adapt to a new way of working, and it can be challenging to get used to. When employees return to the office, they realize that their video conferencing systems aren’t fully up to the needs of hybrid working, if they can even remember how to operate them. Then there are the other practical difficulties hybrid work presents. Should everyone be able to access the same resources from their own home or should they all have to log in from separate computers? Communication is a challenge in remote and hybrid teams because some people are more comfortable speaking up over screens than others, and that’s in addition to the power, status, and language differences that already create barriers to communication in work settings. If you go to a flexible workspace, which is in general a great choice, make sure to keep the conversation between your teammates alive. The start up at.café offers new ways to schedule real-life interactions across teams. Together with our partners, we realized that hybrid work cannot stand alone – we have to empower people to connect, collaborate and socialize.

Another Highlight of the AT&T study shows that 76% of businesses don’t have the right key performance indicators (KPIs) to support hybrid working models

🟠 Collaborative work involves coordination

The benefits of working in hybrid teams are well documented, but the challenge is to manage the risk of faultlines emerging between those who work in person and those who work remotely. They may not be able to express their thoughts and feelings clearly because they’re not used to talking to you about things that matter. Supported by the survey result that there is a tension between what employees want and what organizations prefer.

🟠 Connection is more than a network

The challenges of connection are not limited to problems with technological communication and logistical coordination. There’s also the even bigger problem of social connections, and how they can be endangered or lost entirely when working remotely. We know that professional networks and mentoring relationships are important for advancing in the workplace, and that building and sustaining these are particularly challenging already for women and minorities. We also know from research that personal connections are socially sustaining and important for our psychological well-being. There is a risk that the hybrid working model could create a “dominant class” of those who feel like they are central to the organization and strongly committed to it and an “underclass” of those who feel peripheral and disconnected not only from the work but also from the social life that creates meaning and bonds employees more closely to the organization. The consequences can be less happy and less committed employees who are more likely to search for opportunities elsewhere.

🟠 Creativity is endangered by hybrid work

100% of respondents believe a hybrid work model will help attract young talent, but what do we do with the concern of lack of workplace innovation, and why is this? Talking in the voice of, we believe that this can be solved by offering access to a diversity of flexible workspaces. Collective creativity and individual creativity should be fostered in the same way. Working together, alone – is one of the main motifs of coworking space. Whenever you feel to brainstorm with others or your team colleagues you can. But if you need some calm time alone, this is fine as well. Just be aware that too much time alone can be dangerous, too. It can lead to depression, anxiety and even suicide. Working alone for many days or weeks may not be conducive to creativity. There is evidence that social interactions and spontaneous conversations with colleagues, seeing random artifacts in each other’s cubicles, and even the changes of scenery involved in going from home to work may be important for creativity.

The future of work will be more permanent than temporary and organizations will need to hire more people than ever before to fill roles that are now being filled by hybrid workers.

🟠 We must establish a culture

Insufficient oversight and cultural shifts were identified as well as barriers to successful hybrid work, but respondents believe they’re not insurmountable. With investment in strategy, building culture remotely and the application of technology—specifically AI—in critical business use-cases, firms can transition to a successful hybrid-first work environment.

The survey found that insufficient oversight and cultural shifts were identified as well as barriers to successful hybrid work, but respondents believe they’re not insurmountable. With investment in strategy, building culture remotely and the application of technology, specifically artificial intelligence, in critical business use-cases, firms can transition to a successful hybrid-first work environment.

As companies continue to expand, they must find ways to keep their talent engaged and productive. This includes hiring new employees, training them, and integrating them into the company’s culture. The risk is that the lines between those who work together in person and those who work remotely can become blurred. A payroll and tax solution can help organizations manage compliance and deliver a consistent pay experience for employees, but the same effort has to be done when it comes to implementing a hybrid work solution. and others enable this transition of fast-growing and forward-thinking companies 🧑🏼‍🏫

Are you one of them?

Carlo Ciliberto

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