August 19, 2021

What’s Next: How the Lessons of the Pandemic Will Steer the Future of the Workplace

While many of us are more than eager to shake off the weight of the pandemic, many of the lessons we’ve learned throughout the past year and a half will prove incredibly beneficial as we grow into the post-pandemic future.

Now that companies are quickly shifting to hybrid and in-person environments, leaders must not forget everything they learned during their brief but transformative remote work stints. This period should forever be revered as a time where human adaptability prevailed when the going got tough.

As the workplace continues to evolve, what can we expect to see? Now is not a time for complacency. By evaluating the past and learning from it, HR leaders can embrace the future of work.

Remember What You Did Right in the Remote Workplace

The initial shift to working from home presented a multitude of hurdles unlike we’ve ever seen. HR teams needed time to arrange strong lines of communication and cultivate a powerful sense of virtual community, while leaders had to engage remote workers and boost productivity levels. Over time, the kinks were ironed out, employees adapted to the lifestyle change, and business continuity was ensured.

Executives and HR professionals should look back to their wins in building robust remote workplaces as they plan for the next phase of work. What tools proved most functional in maintaining office communication? How often did managers have check-ins with their employees? What did your team need to be productive at home? The answers to these questions can help you craft a strategy to support individual success even as we shift to hybrid and in-person work arrangements.

Building a Company Culture for the Hybrid Workplace

It’s no secret that company culture is a driving factor in retaining employees and attracting new candidates. Fostering a flourishing culture requires that HR teams and company leaders continuously reflect on what employees value and how the organization can uphold those values.

What does company culture look like now that you’re bringing people back to the office in some capacity? It’s best to get creative in your approach. Start with anonymous culture surveys to gauge overall employee sentiment, get a sense of what employees need, and identify areas where culture and employee values don’t align.

As you work to build the right culture for your hybrid workplace, you must ensure that all employees are included in the effort. Both hybrid and remote workers should be equally engaged by the culture you build

Staying Agile After COVID

There’s no denying that one of the pandemic’s most vital lessons to us all has been the importance of agility. Noth organizations and their employees needed to be incredibly agile to keep up with the ever-changing demands of the pandemic economy.

An agile work mindset means being flexible, inviting change when it happens, and adjusting your work style to the moment. What can employers and employees do to preserve that agile frame of mind within a hybrid or in-person work environment?

HR and management should work together to ensure employees receive the training they need to adopt and perpetuate agile mindsets. Rethink employee development methodologies and processes, with an eye toward removing outdated elements and inspiring efficiency. Collaboration and communication are also key components of organizational agility today, and since technology is the facilitator within the transformed workspace, it’s vital to critique and refine your tech stack as necessary.

The Employee Well-Being Crisis Isn’t Over Yet

The past year and a half has been agonizing for many. Workers found themselves navigating a tricky work/life balance as their homes became their workspaces and the pandemic cut them off from typical social outlets. While many companies took the initiative to offer new well-being benefits, many employees nevertheless feel overwhelmed and burned out.

The well-being crisis won’t simply disappear as we shift to hybrid workplaces, so HR professionals must continue looking for innovative ways to help employees combat stress. Consider, for example, offering mindfulness training sessions to help both hybrid and remote workers learn new stress management strategies. Focusing on engagement and communication can also help boost employee morale by cultivating a community within the organization. And remember: Supporting employee mental health is just as good for your business as it is for your workers. After all, employees who feel good do good work.

Matt Thomas is president of WorkSmart Systems.

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Matt Thomas is the president of Indianapolis-based WorkSmart Systems, Inc., which he founded in 1998. He is active with the National Association of Professional Employer Organizations (NAPEO), and he has dedicated more than 20 years to the PEO industry, dating back to his early career with industry leaders ADP and NovaCare Employee Services.
http://www.worksmartpeo.com/