While the undulating waves of the pandemic keep diminishing, ongoing expectations for a massive return to the traditional office haven’t materialized. Instead, with many employees less habituated to the physical office, businesses are paying increasing attention to hybrid work models, combining elements of the traditional workplace and remote work.
In fact, a Gallup survey in 2022 gave strong indications that a hybrid work schedule will be the predominant arrangement for many occupations going forward. Among “remote-capable” employees whose work can be done at home, about 53% anticipated a hybrid arrangement, while 24% predicted that they’d be working exclusively remotely.
As hybrid work gains greater adoption, leaders must make sure that offices of the future accommodate the changing needs of employees working from home as well as the office. What are the biggest challenges ahead, and how can they be solved?
The Challenges for the Hybrid Office of the Future
Challenges for the hybrid office of the future include easing worker stress, keeping employees onboard, promoting career advancement, and providing a secure and smoothly functioning online work environment for employees both at home and in the office.
- Worker well-being
Another report, Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace, reveals that stress has reached an all-time high, with 44% or employees around the world saying they experienced a lot of stress during the previous day. What may be even more troubling is that fewer than 25% percent said they felt their employer cared about their well-being.
- Employee retention
According to research by Executive Networks, 83% of CHROs report a significant talent retention issue. Top factors affecting retention include stress, employee burnout, lack of visibility into career advancement/development, work-life balance issues, and compensation.
- IT help desk snarls
The IT help desk can be a big struggle for businesses and their employees, especially in a hybrid environment. After all, work-at-home employees can’t exactly stroll down the hall for assistance from IT if their laptop or phone goes awry. But online trouble ticket resolution for internal users is still complex and time-consuming at many organizations.
New IT self-help features are available, but until workers find that a self-help feature can save them a ton of time, they will not magically turn to it. To be effective, features need to be easy to use and offer personalized assistance. By alleviating employee frustration over help desk issues, companies can help raise worker satisfaction all around.
- The widening skills gap
A total of 87% of businesses responding to the McKinsey Global Survey respondents said they are already experiencing skills gaps now or are expecting them within a few years.
According to another research, 82% of employees and 62% of HR directors believe that workers will need to reskill or upskill at least once yearly to stay competitive and address the skills gap.
Embracing the Hybrid Office of the Future
No two hybrid workplaces will be alike. Businesses, though, can choose from an increasing range of technology solutions to help them face the specific challenges facing their organizations.
1. Harness chatbots for smarter hiring and faster response to employees
It’s only common sense that employees who succeed in their jobs experience greater satisfaction. Businesses can widen their talent pools for a greater choice of job candidates through the use of recruitment chatbots.
Chatbots have been shown to substantially lower candidate abandon rates. By answering questions from candidates, the bots free up time for HR pros to focus on the strategic areas of their jobs. After workers are already onboard, leaders can also leverage chatbot technology to meet employee needs quickly, responding to their queries immediately. The bots can be configured to auto-resolve issues around HR benefits or tax documents, for example. Chatbots can chime in anytime and anywhere — whether the worker is at home or in the office — directly within Microsoft Teams or Slack.
2. Streamline IT support
Lack of adequate IT support can be another stressor, especially in environments where team members spend much of their time collaborating online. The addition of AI-enabled helpdesk capabilities can amplify the benefits of traditional automation with what’s called intelligent automation. For instance, businesses can add additional smarts to automation by integrating historical data. Use of predictive analytics can help address technical issues before they impact businesses processes and outcomes.
To deliver greater convenience to employees, businesses can use new technology to smoothly integrate easy-to-use and personalized AI-enabled IT self-service into collaboration platforms like Slack.
3. Build employee skillsets through LXPs
Employer-sponsored learning opportunities can help keep workers from exiting a company for other pastures. These days, trainers deliver eLearning through a variety of specially designed technologies that provide highly personalized learning.
The capabilities of those environments, combined with the unique types of experiences delivered to the learner, create learning experience platforms (LXPs). Today, LXPs are a growing part of the learning ecosystem. The “openness” of LXP architecture means their advantages can be leveraged by a much broader audience than before through integration with countless corporate and third-party tools.
4. Offer online platforms for wellness
Taking a holistic approach to employee well-being and embedding it into the fabric of the company can’t help to make it clear that the employer cares. With the rise of the hybrid workplace, it’s especially important for resources to be available online.
Technology is now available for providing 24x7 professional mental health counselors and wellness coaches — along with a host of legal, financial, and dietitian resources — all in a single platform.
Taking the next step
In hybrid workplaces of the future, leaders must ensure employee well-being in both office and remote environments. This means leveraging new technology to achieve greater intelligence, personalization, and ease of use across job hiring platforms, employee self-service options, employee career-building tools, and much more.