Thriving in the Hybrid Workplace

Published on 08/04/2021

Survey report:
THRIVING IN THE HYBRID WORKPLACE

How to keep your employees happy, productive and loyal

As offices reopen with a blend of in-person and at-home work, companies realize that the future of work is hybrid. Work has expanded from the office and into the home — and it’s here to stay.

But are employers doing enough to maintain company culture and team development in the new blended workplace?

We asked 1,039(*) newly-remote workers to find out how the switch affected their connection to their companies, their co-workers, and themselves. We wanted to uncover which company tools empower remote workers by boosting team cohesion and filling the socialization gap created by the shift to at-home work.

(*) 1039 respondents that were qualified by having been switched from office to remote work since March 2020 lockdowns/ pandemic declaration. Answers collected from 8 to 19 March 2021

One thing is clear: to thrive in the hybrid workplace, employees want tighter bonds with their co-workers. Relationships boost productivity and increase satisfaction. Establishing and maintaining these interpersonal links isn’t easy to do virtually. Even so, with a dash of creativity and a sprinkle of imagination, it’s entirely possible.

As we’ll explore below, many employees actually report being more productive, happier and connected during remote work. How are market-leading companies achieving this work nirvana? To thrive in the hybrid workplace and keep workers connected and collaborative, companies must try new tactics. It comes down to bringing realworld interactions into the virtual realm with activities that blend games, fun, socialization and informal bonding.

To see how to set up employees for success, encourage team engagement and nurture company culture while working from home, read on. Here’s what we found in our first Hybrid Workplace Empowerment survey.

EMPLOYEES FEEL CONNECTED TO THEIR CO-WORKERS (FOR NOW)

Common thought is that workers feel isolated while away from their co-workers. The surprising reality? Many employees feel more connected than ever!

Although the pandemic has forced workers into their homes, most likely for good, they feel more connected to their co-workers than ever. 55% of respondents said they feel closer to their team since spending a year working remotely compared to just 26% who said they feel alone or more isolated from their team.

Companies spend a fortune on building their culture whether it be on architecture, design or branding. But, despite all of that, we found that co-workers for the most part feel more connected than ever working from home.

60% of respondents said they feel more connected to their company’s mission and culture, a number that speaks volumes about the work companies are putting in to keep their employees connected since the start of the pandemic.

Companies are providing the tools to keep their employees connected, but as they move into year two of remote work, they must innovate to keep things fresh via competition and gameplay. As the survey found, these experiences will turn stale without innovation from HR and internal communications managers.

ZOOM HAPPY HOUR ? No, thanks

During the early days of the pandemic when no one seemed to know what to do, Zoom emerged as the fallback destination for almost everything. Birthday for your uncle? Zoom. Friday night with friends? Zoom. Zoom. Zoom.

Over the past year, 54% of workers in our poll participated in a Zoom/virtual happy hour with their co-workers as a team-building exercise. Only 25% of those workers said they would prefer this type of exercise moving forward.

Not everyone drinks, for starters, and most of us spend time in Zoom meetings (or similar)during the week. It’s just not a “fun” activity. Companies need to expand their horizons and provide increasingly unique experiences for their employees to keep them engaged with their co-workers.

Even though workers want more remote events, it’s time to get creative. Employers should provide immersive virtual experiences and would be wise to incorporate competition, according to our survey.

MORE REMOTE TEAM EVENTS? yes, please

Nearly 62% of workers said their companies have hosted virtual team-building events or activities at least once a month since going remote while 30% of workers participated in those events once a week.

Workers want more. 73% of our respondents would like these events at least once a month, and 92% of workers want team-building activities at a minimum quarterly. Only 6% of workers said they don’t want virtual team-building exercises or events.

How often would you like to have virtual team-building events with co-workers?

Moving into year two of remote work, employees want more exciting solutions and they want them more frequently. Zoom fatigue is here and it’s time for employers to invest in new ways to keep their employes engaged. Customized virtual games is a place to start.

THE «ESCAPIFICATION» of hybrid work

E-learning, PowerPoint, back-to-back conference calls…We all need an escape! Yet, employees don’t have as many options to break from the daily routine. They’re also less likely to have casual social time with colleagues. It’s all business, all the time.

As a pressure valve that connects people beyond work, there’s been a switch to virtual events. One of the emerging concepts is the gamification of the workplace, especially in team-building exercises and training. We call this “escapification” or the need for workers to shake off their routines and experience something new with their team. These activities combine the fun aspects of game playing with the casual socialization of team building.

Two of the top-five most wanted virtual activities by employees in our survey involved virtual gamification: Virtual escape rooms and virtual scavenger hunts. Employees want more competition among their co-workers.

Corporate training could also be much more fun with a gamification element. 50% of our respondents said adding elements of game playing such as a point system, multiplayer interaction, leaderboard and competition added to corporate training would absolutely help them to learn, socialize and feel empowered in a more efficient way.

Nearly 72% of workers who switched to remote this year said they would like to have some of their corporate training modernized with digital games and more specifically 68% said they would be excited to play virtual competitive games such as a virtual escape room with their colleagues.

WORKERS WHO LIKE EACH OTHER, WORK MORE PRODUCTIVELY TOGETHER

Workers are more productive when they have good relationships with their colleagues. How to deepen those interpersonal relationships is a core challenge for HR — but a vital one for a thriving hybrid workplace.

More than 70% of workers said they tend to be more productive when they have good relationships at work compared to just 6% who said they are less productive when they have good relationships at work.

happy workers don’t quit

The world’s top companies are constantly training new employees and expanding skillsets of existing employees. In some industries, such as healthcare, training is a constant, as roles require significant training and experience.

For employees, their relationship with their colleagues is one of the top factors and often the most important factor in their decision to stick with an employer.

Retention is difficult when employees don’t physically see their co-workers and friends on a daily basis. Companies that succeed here offer robust schedules of virtual team- building exercises that offer many pathways to build relationships within teams and across departments.

WORK FROM HOME doesn’t work for everyone

Employees have had a year to adjust to the home office. Yet, remote work doesn’t work for everyone. It’s not surprising that there are some things they do miss about working in the office.

The biggest thing they miss, unsurprisingly, is their co-workers. The second on our survey, collaborating with those same co-workers.

Relationships with colleagues are at the top of most workers’ minds. It can’t be stressed enough how much attention businesses should place on building and strengthening those bonds between workers!

ESCAPING THE VIRTUAL ROUTINE IS key to hybrid work

One year into the pandemic, companies with thoughtful employee engagement programs are doing well at keeping their employees connected. But employees want more! To keep employees happy and earn their long-term loyalty, companies should invest in tools that deepen bonds between workers. It’s a top priority in the hybrid workplace!

By charting multiple paths for employees to escape their virtual routines, they’ll bond better with each other and the company’s mission. As they feel more strongly attached, they’ll be less likely to leave as they don’t want to abandon people, missions and values they care about.

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