Mark Devereux at Scalable Software explores the effect of hybrid working on revenues and suggests that organisations need to take a data driven approach to managing it
We are well into September now, and the month is expected to see a post-summer influx of workers heading back to the office. But work is never going to look the same as it did pre-pandemic.
The Office for National Statistics found that 85% of homeworkers want to return to work on a hybrid basis. For many months now, the media has been awash with the dream of hybrid working, a model that gives workers the best of both worlds.
However, the reality of hybrid workers’ experience is somewhat at odds with the vision of happy-go-lucky “digital nomads” logging on from wherever they are in the world. A recent survey from Scalable Software of 2,000 UK hybrid workers has revealed the potential for serious wellbeing issues and productivity losses unless the employee experience is optimised.
The speed with which digital technology was rolled out to enable remote, and now hybrid, working, was impressive. But as the crisis period comes to an end, there are gaps to be addressed. Organisations need new ways to measure and optimise the hybrid worker experience to ensure the model continues to deliver benefits for employers and employees alike.
Poor digital experience impacts revenues
One of the core issues is that employers are failing to provide their employees with the technology they need. UK hybrid workers are struggling with access to the right technology, with a considerable knock-on effect on their ability to do work.
Our research showed that in total, hybrid workers are wasting 6.96 hours per week due to a lack of technology or technology that doesn’t work. Of course, time is money for businesses, and so this equates to a significant cost. In fact, UK PLC is losing a whopping £2.1bn each year.
This has been reflected elsewhere. Gartner, for instance, recently found a concerning disparity between employees and those leading companies – whilst 80% of executives feel they have the technology to effectively work remotely, just 66% of employees said the same. This is clearly not sustainable.
Organisations cannot continue to lose billions due to inadequate technologies and poor experiences. Moreover, the impact of poor digital experience doesn’t just stop there. There is a sizeable human cost to consider.
Businesses must combat burnout
Poor digital experience also has a concerning impact on employee wellbeing. Not having access to the right technology, dealing with poorly designed workflows, and a lack of user-friendly applications all add time to tasks.
This means that simple, routine work can become lengthy and gruelling. As a result, hybrid workers are being forced to work an extra 2.2 weeks a year. This, of course, seriously increases the risk of burnout, reduces job satisfaction, and could see a growing number of employees choose to leave.
The problem has been recognised by many. The think-tank Autonomy found that homeworking has caused an “epidemic of hidden overtime”, and economists have pointed to “The Great Resignation” that businesses are currently experiencing. Something has to change. Organisations cannot afford to lose skilled staff simply because the digital experience isn’t up to scratch.
There’s no doubt that spotting and rectifying technology or wellbeing issues is harder when the workforce is dispersed, but organisations must act now to cut out this waste and to halt the “mission creep” of work into home life before it has a detrimental effect on wellbeing.
Hybrid working is here to stay
It’s clear that organisations need to change the way they are approaching hybrid work, because the model is here to stay. While they don’t hesitate to monitor the user experiences of customers, many employers are not investing the same amount in understanding the experiences of their own employees.
This is where the change needs to happen. Organisations need a new lens through which to measure the impact of hybrid working 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 somewhere else in the world. This data helps to 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.
The organisations who recognise that happy, motivated employees are the key to business success, and who prioritise them, will be the ones to thrive in this post-COVID-19 working world.
Mark Devereux is CTPO at Scalable Software
Main image courtesy of iStockPhoto.com