The world of work has changed forever. Even as an influx of workers are expected to return to offices this September, many will not be doing so full-time.
In fact, the Office for National Statistics found that 85% of those currently working at home want to return to work on a hybrid basis. For months now, the hybrid working vision has been heavily discussed in the media – a model that promises to give employees the best of both worlds, improve their work-life balance and allow them to work from anywhere in the world.
However, a recent survey of 2,000 UK hybrid workers from Scalable Software, has revealed that the reality of hybrid workers’ experience is not yet living up to the “digital nomad” utopia. Instead, the research has unveiled potentially serious wellbeing issues on the horizon, as well as risks to efficacy and productivity, and dissatisfaction with digital experience. In the face of this, organisations must find new ways to measure and optimise the hybrid worker experience to ensure the model continues to deliver benefits for employers and employees alike.
The Impact on Employee Wellbeing
Gartner recently found a concerning disparity between employees and those leading companies when it came to homeworking. Whilst 80% of executives felt they had the technology to effectively work remotely, just 66% of employees said the same. This worrying trend was reflected in Scalable’s research, which found that many employers are failing to provide employees with the right technology. The result? Hybrid workers are wasting 6.96 hours per week, each, due to a lack of technology and technology that simply doesn’t work. Of course, time is money in business, and this amounts to UK PLC losing a huge £2.1 billion each year. However, while monetary losses are of course concerning, there is also a sizeable human cost that employers cannot overlook.
Not having access to the right technology and dealing with poorly designed workflows add time to tasks. This means that simple, routine work can become dragged out. As a result, hybrid workers are currently working an extra 2.2 weeks a year. This seriously increases the risk of burnout and shows just how much a poor digital experience can impact on employee wellbeing. The thinktank, Autonomy, found that homeworking over the pandemic has led to an “epidemic of hidden overtime”. If left untreated, this problem could reduce job satisfaction and even lead to employees leaving their organisations.
Digital Experience is Everything
On top of these wellbeing issues, many employees are not satisfied with their current digital experience. In fact, almost half (49%) said they felt that IT treats most of their workforce the same, without understanding how they work as individuals. Almost a third (32%) of respondents felt existing tech was already better than new deployments, and 23% said the user experience wasn’t good enough. As such, this failure to engage employees could reduce uptake of new technology, in turn negatively impacting digital transformation efforts.
Additionally, a poor digital experience can also drive employees to leave their organisation. Almost a third (30%) said a substandard digital experience has either made them want to leave a job or has contributed to them leaving a job. With the world of work currently experiencing “The Great Resignation”, organisations cannot afford to lose skilled staff simply because digital experience isn’t up to scratch. IT teams have been indispensable in enabling organisations to keep operating smoothly despite the challenges they’ve faced, but it’s clear that more must be done when it comes to providing for employees.
Hybrid Work is the New Standard
There’s no doubt that spotting and rectifying technology or wellbeing issues is harder when the workforce is dispersed. However, with hybrid working here to stay, organisations must act now to prevent wellbeing issues and improve the digital experience. Organisations need a new lens through which to measure the impact of hybrid work, and take data-driven decisions that help employees thrive.
Sophisticated workforce analytics offers deep visibility into individual user experiences, whether they are in the office, at home, or on the other side of the world. This data can bridge the gap between IT and HR, the teams responsible for delivering workplace technology and for ensuring employee wellbeing. By analysing the experience of workers at a granular level, with a variety of data points, HR and IT can identify and remove barriers to success. Understanding employees’ digital journey empowers IT and HR to optimise the hybrid experience, support wellbeing, and stop time and money being wasted.
As hybrid working becomes a mainstay of 21st century life, adopting a new approach to measuring and optimising the employee experience will be critical to success. Happy, motivated employees are what drive businesses forward. The organisations that recognise this, and prioritise their workforce, will be the ones to thrive in the new working world.
By Mark Devereux, CTPO, Scalable Software.