Strong company culture the basis of a successful hybrid work environment

Study highlights how post-Covid working dynamics increase importance of communicative leadership with an inclusive organisational culture most important once logistics and technology are addressed

Just at the very moment the UK eases lockdown regulations, businesses are planning for new workplace models which may well include a safe return to the office for some, if not all, of their employees. In addition to a technical infrastructure that supports efficient hybrid working, strong company culture is a critical component that will make new ways of working sustainable in the long term, says a Cisco study.

According to the Workforce of the future report, the pandemic has changed the way we work forever, with employees now seeking greater ownership and choice in where and when they work – blending between being office-based and working remotely. It said that as businesses establish their hybrid workplace models, they will be faced with the challenge of implementing bespoke, long-term solutions that truly transform employee experiences regardless of location, and support productivity.

UK employees spend, on average, half of their waking hours working, amplifying the importance of not only optimising office and virtual workspaces, but building strong, inclusive organisational cultures too, said Cisco. The desired experiences in the new office space range from frequent and effective communication to greater recognition and professional development.

While many remote workers feel empowered and trusted by their managers and teams to do the job at hand, the study revealed a significant minority still had concerns. One in six (16%) employees did not feel trusted to do their job from home, without extensive oversight, and just over half (52%) of the workforce thought their achievements weren’t recognised while working from home, whereas just 48% disagreed with this.

Opportunity for progression is another prominent concern, and just over a third (35%) of employees surveyed agreed with the statement that they were worried that not sitting near their manager would affect their career goals. Cisco found that communicative leadership would be paramount to overcoming the challenge of proximity, as well as maintaining a sense of stability and autonomy. As many as 84% of employees agreed that leaders must communicate more the longer they are dispersed if they are to be effective.

While just over half of those sampled in the survey (54%) said they have the full technology setup to work from home, there was still a significant proportion who don’t. Equipping employees with the right tools to connect and collaborate was found to be a key part of this journey. Cisco added that cloud-based collaboration platforms supported by artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced analytics that enable features such as facial detection, transcriptions and translations play a powerful role in bringing dispersed teams together and driving greater engagement and innovation virtually.

Also revealed in the study was that training and development remained front of mind for individuals who now, more than ever, were tasked with mastering technology in their everyday work. Excluding those who don’t know, over four in five (81%) employees consider training in technologies and digital skills to be very or somewhat important.

“People choose an employer for many reasons, but they buy into a company for its culture and its values,” said David Meads, Cisco UK & Ireland chief executive, commenting on the research. “As we continue to work from home and navigate the challenges and opportunities of shifting to remote and hybrid working, we have to be inclusive, taking everyone on the journey with us. We must take extra steps to ensure that everyone feels invested in, and technology will play a vital role in ensuring that dispersed employees and teams feel connected.”

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