As we continue to grapple with the complexities of in-person vs. hybrid vs. remote work, employers are faced with an equally pressing challenge: how to embrace and utilize technology in a way that supports success and well-being in any work environment. Setting employees up for success, be that with technology, managerial support or effective onboarding is critically important to the success of the employee experience – or the career journey that an employee takes within an organization.
How Technology Impacts the Employee Experience
Technology opens up many possibilities for employees and businesses alike. As we experienced in 2020, organizations that had effective technology in place were able to almost seamlessly continue operations while employees were forced to work from home. There was no time before that reinforced how critically important technology was to a workforce. Bad technology not only meant a bad employee experience – but it meant bad business.
As we’ve moved beyond the chaos of 2020 and hybrid or remote work environments have become accepted, workforces have become decentralized. As a result, according to HBR “the traditional emphasis placed on in-office perks is quickly diminishing.” Remote work is here to stay, and spending money and resources to incentivize employees to come into the office is often rendered useless. The perks of the “old days” like the office ping-pong table, kegerator, and catered lunches are now replaced by work-from-anywhere flexibility and home-office equipment.
And still, “Microsoft found that after a year of working from home, 42% of employees say they lack essential office supplies at home, and 1 in 10 don’t have an adequate internet connection to do their job.” Companies that promote hybrid or remote flexibility as a part of the employee experience should also work to provide proper resources to support that flexibility. That might look like a monthly reimbursement for expenses like internet service, or an automatic delivery of equipment when someone joins – like monitors, headsets, and perhaps even a standing desk. In other words – companies should put their money where their mouths are.
The Importance of Collaboration
As businesses become more comfortable operating in a remote or hybrid work environment, they’ve relied on technology to fill the gaps left by not being in person. Opponents of remote work believe that in-person collaboration is critical and that virtual interactions will never be as collaborative or as creative as they are in-person. While there will always be value in spending time with other people in person, advancements in technology have made collaboration far more attainable than they were even a few years ago. The reality is – many people prefer to work remotely, at least some of the time. When colleagues are begrudgingly in an office, their willingness to be collaborative and creative may be reduced.
Supporting the Workforce with Technology
Businesses that are willing to invest in technology should first take the pulse of their employees to understand how to best support them. Some colleagues might suggest that not every meeting is on video (Zoom fatigue is real!). Perhaps colleagues are exhausted by the sheer number of meetings on their calendars – in remote environments, the tendency can be to schedule everything to replace those impromptu in-person conversations. No matter what – understand where your employees are at, and then research the tools to best support their needs.
While there are many technology resources that can support work productivity and communication, many organizations are searching not only for those – but also for those that will support engagement. “An all-in-one employee engagement platform that helps connect everyone in the organization with no barrier can be of great help while working remotely.” Engagement platforms can provide organizations with easy-to-use survey tools and recognition platforms, as well as streamline communication across teams.
Once technology tools are selected, it’s just as important to develop processes and expectations for how that technology is used. In order for it to be useful, employees must understand how and when to use certain technology, and any organizational or team norms for doing so. This should be reviewed in onboarding and refreshed throughout the employee journey. Technology can be hugely impactful to productivity and engagement – but only when it’s used as intended!
When it comes down to it – organizations will need to embrace technology to support their remote and hybrid work cultures. Take time to understand the needs of your employees, make wise investments and set expectations for how that technology is used and your employee experience will improve immensely!