Role of CHROs in Creating Edge-to-Office Initiatives for the Hybrid World
During the past one year with so, HR’s role in organizations has become much more central. Along with the CEOs and business leaders, they had to co-create structures and models to withstand disruption by being business-centric and people-focused, at the same time.
Constant up-gradation and transformation to keep pace with the changing environment was happening at an accelerated pace. The unexpected pandemic forced everyone to find viable solutions as per nature of work, type of industry, and challenges faced.
At present, amidst the scare and confusion on the possibility of third wave, normalcy is resuming on all fronts, including workplaces.
Nonetheless, a few things are unlikely to become what they were pre-covid. The new and Hybrid work models have touched every aspect of work, workplace, and workforce.
Therefore, organizations need to create edge-to-office initiatives suitable for all kinds of role requirements, that are easy to adapt to and enhancing productivity.
The New Hybrid World
Before pandemic only 6 to 10% of employees had the option of remote working, that too limited to a select few industries. Pandemic has increased remote working manifold with different permutations and combinations.
The percentage of workforce operating from office and WFH, the roles that are on remote working temporarily or permanently, the number of functions or roles where this option can be exercised etc., will be based on organizational requirement and would differ from company to company.
As per surveys, most of the employees prefer WFH as it considerably saves commuting time and provides flexibility to manage their work. Some prefer operating from home and office with scheduled roster system. Some organizations are open to their employees being based in other cities/states while on remote working, whereas some organizations have defined geographical boundaries so that employees are available to come to office in short notice.
With so many tried and tested options available for employees and employers, it is rather tricky to think of completely reverting to the old ways of working.
CHROs need to carefully consider all aspects like industry norms, business outcomes, employee preferences and then design a system that begets the best of all. A better direction for organizations would be to reap the benefits of this hybrid model that provides an edge on attracting talent, enhances diversity and inclusion, improves productivity, and which also would be the most preferred option for employees and organizations.
Workplace and Workspace
These are contextually distinct in the hybrid world and are not confined to a structure or place where work ought to happen. Workspace it is not only cabins or workstations at office but also includes home or remote locations. A more holistic and different approach is required to manage these by going beyond the physical space.
HR and business leaders believe that a hybrid workplace creates a positive experience for employees in maintaining good work-life balance and high efficiency and productivity. At the same time, employees are required to be on-site/office to carry out certain jobs.
Creating a competitive edge for organizations would be when CHROs are able to create the right mix after taking all aspects into consideration.
Health and Wellness
Once employees started coming to office, which gradually increased in number, the first and the foremost challenge was to ensure safety – not only for regular employees but also for every other person engaged with the organization that includes outsources, security, housekeeping, etc.
CHROs should introduce mechanisms to monitor health status of everyone who steps into the workplace and focus on collective wellbeing. Choosing the right methods, having appropriate tools to measure the health status as well as for deciding the frequency of such checks will define the overall wellbeing of the organization.
Data and Technology were transforming businesses and the same thing came in handy during pandemic for business sustainability. Basic connectivity implies providing the IT resources like desktops, laptops, high-speed broadband connection, suitable equipment or devices that enable smooth functioning of their work.
All these are taken care of in the office, however, CHROs, as well as Managers, need to carefully tackle ‘connectivity’ issues such as IT equipment, internet speed, access to company information outside the network, etc., for remote working staff too. They should not be at a disadvantage due to their non-presence in the office.
The pandemic also created a kind of technological edge for organizations as employees had to quicky adapt to the new ways of doing things which involved using advanced and ‘never before tried and tested technology’.
Task automation, virtual conversations using modern platforms and tools created ways of seamless conversations. Whether this phase will continue or not, CHROs should ensure that the emerging cutting-edge technology is leveraged in all aspects for creating unique employee experience and enhancing productivity like never before.
Organizational success is when people across functions and departments, internal and external can come together to communicate and connect. During complete and partial remote working, HR and Business Leaders were able to create platforms for diverse employees to collaborate and work together.
As employees started coming to office they prefer in-person conversations and team lunches in the office canteens. It also creates an edge in terms of availability or resources and accessibility of information which happens during corridor chats and water cooler talks.
Employees on remote working might feel the disconnect of being left out of crucial conversations or delayed access to information.
CHROs need to create the right balance and establish ways and means to make everyone feel included. Knowledge sharing sessions, periodic reviews, discussion platforms will provide enough opportunities for them to be aligned and to be on the same page as far as all the team members are concerned, irrespective of whether they are operating from home or office.
A leap of faith, being on the edge
We were on a learning journey that only got into a fifth gear due to pandemic. Everything is in an experiential mode. CHROs need to keep a close eye to every detail and nuance of work, workplace, and workforce so that ‘edge’ is created for employees, employers, customers, and all other associated stakeholders.
The best way to progress and surge ahead is by adapting to the changing environment, learning on the way, and making the best of what we have.