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The future of workforce mobility: human, hybrid and flexible

By , VP - IT Services at In2IT Technologies
Africa , South Africa , 07 Oct 2022
Sarthak Rohal, VP - IT Services at In2IT Technologies.
Sarthak Rohal, VP - IT Services at In2IT Technologies.

Today’s workforce has come to expect streamlined processes, flexibility, and digital connectivity from wherever they may work (whether in the office or remotely) in order to facilitate productivity.

Throughout the pandemic, it was this ability to work remotely that broke social distancing boundaries and enabled new levels of productivity to be achieved, despite teams becoming more globally distributed. The past two years have had an irreversible impact on the future of work, and hybrid work is clearly here to stay. However, instead of resisting this change, or attempting to go back to pre-lockdown working arrangements, companies should embrace this as the opportunity it is.

Hybrid is no longer optional

The sudden and now sustained use of remote work arrangements will lead to a transformed employee experience, and such evolving business strategies are all opportunities within workforce mobility. The biggest drivers for these changes are increased flexibility for the business, cost containment, as well as an alignment with talent strategy that boosts employee engagement. Hybrid work is here to stay. With 75% of hybrid or remote knowledge workers agreeing that their expectations for working flexibly have increased, there is no doubt that the future is hybrid. So much so that where organisations insist on reverting to a fully on-site arrangement, they risk losing up to 39% of their workforce. This means that the need for a new, human-centric model for the hybrid environment is necessary. This demands that work be designed around employee-driven flexibility, that results in culture connectedness that is driven by human leadership.

Putting an end to clock-watching and micro-management

Workforce mobility provides the ability to work from any place, at any time, on any platform, with the user’s choice in tools.

The collaboration landscape is rapidly evolving to accommodate this new diverse workforce and their elevated expectations. A hybrid workplace model caters to employees working from the office occasionally, while working from home for the rest of the work week. Many organisations are now incorporating a hybrid workplace model, attempting to make the shift while maintaining productivity and increasing engagement levels.

Localising global change

Considering South Africa, a country where a face-to-face work environment has long been the standard, there are a few steps that companies can take to become an efficient hybrid workplace:

Employing a hybrid workforce model can increase business resilience and agility, drive competitive differentiation, and be a cost-saving tool for both an organisation and the employees. At the core of a successful hybrid workforce model is shared ownership and trust, which helps organisations break down long-held misconceptions about where and how work gets done most effectively. Ultimately, employees and employers need to work together on fine-tuning their hybrid workforce model. Successful workplace mobility strategies will need to be underpinned by the following foundational considerations:

Powerful technology platforms that enable work from anywhere:

  • Alongside traditional workplace technology, such as desktops, laptops and virtual desktops, portable devices and tablets, wearables can also be leveraged as a primary work device.
  • It is necessary to focus on application modernisation so that the full productivity application suite can be accessible through any type of device. Every user should have the flexibility to choose their own workplace devices.

Best Resource Onboarding, regardless of location:

  • As hiring increases in response to renewed business activities, it is necessary to support and elevate the virtual onboarding process.
  • These new onboarding processes must enable companies to welcome new employees while delivering the training they need to do their jobs, locate resources, and feel like part of the team.

Flexible working hours centred around individual employee productivity:

  • The work week as we know it is dead. Flexible work hours allow employees to deviate from the norm of Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.
  • By offering flexible work hours, businesses can attract and retain top talent, improve diversity and inclusion, increase job satisfaction, energy, and creativity.
  • With a flexible schedule, employees are able to customise their workdays to fit their specific needs (children, exercise, leisure, household chores, etc.). A survey by Airtasker found that on average, flexible workers work 1.4 more days each month than traditional office workers, which amounts to 16.8 more days per year.
  • There are a few challenges that come with the flexible working package, such as employee availability and communication, and overtime. These can be addressed on a case-by-case basis, until an acceptable arrangement is achieved.

Cybersecurity framework for securing data and on-demand research and analytics:

  • In addition to establishing new cybersecurity practices for data security, organisations need to enable on-demand research and analytics to guard against safety hazards such as fall detection, location tracking, hazard zones, insurance, and regulatory compliance.
  • Some of the direct benefits include workflow optimisation, regulatory compliance, inventory management and asset-use optimisation.

Transparent digital policy and process for trust building:

  • Millennial employees will soon be in the majority. By 2025, more than 75% of the workforce will be Millennials or younger Gen Z-ers with an expectation of instant access to information.
  • More importantly, by digitising processes it is possible to automate repetitive parts of business processes which can save time and allow employees to focus on more important and complex parts of their jobs.

Work environments that put employees first

It is worth pointing out that remote working did not start with COVID-19. All the pandemic did was accelerate the trend, highlighting the need for business leaders to rethink how and where work should be performed. To give effect to these changes, the company’s fleet of end-user devices must be considered within an integrated security and device management solution along with platform collaboration in order to facilitate employee-driven work environments.

With the demand for flexibility from the workforce, employees are telling what they want the future of their work to be: human, hybrid and equitable. Here, smart organisations will listen. Not only for the benefit of their employees, but because flexibility yields high returns for performance. Given that employees who enjoy high levels of flexibility are three times more likely to be high performers, businesses cannot expect to ignore the needs of their workforce and achieve desired output.

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