With the boundaries between work and home irrevocably blurred by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we find ourselves asking, will the workplace ever return to “normal?” If current trends are any indication, the answer is more than likely, no. Forever changed by one of the greatest disruptions to work in generations, workers across the nation – and the companies that employ them – are looking to innovation and possibility as a means of reinventing the once traditional work environment.
While it is nearly impossible to predict what this “new normal” might look like, there does seem to be a consensus on the issue of productivity and productivity metrics. Mainly, whether current metrics – the ability to track worker data and activity – really tell the whole story when it comes to remote or hybrid work. Data researchers such as Microsoft suggest it does not. As you and your organization look to the future, consider the following suggestions for expanding current productivity metrics beyond data and activity tracking.
Be Flexible. Consider the best that traditional office and remote work options have to offer and combine the most effective options to create a positive and productive hybrid experience. For example, determine which aspects of a task or assignment require group engagement (e.g., brainstorming, or problem-solving) and those that can be performed solo or in a remote environment; assign in-office and remote workdays accordingly.
Be Innovative. Encourage employees to manage remote schedules in a way that works best for their personal situation and circumstances. Focus on what must be accomplished and allow workers the flexibility to determine when and where they feel most productive when it comes to accomplishing the task at hand. Discuss new norms for communicating and meeting. Consider a short training on useful virtual meeting etiquette (e.g., how to use remote features and assign a ‘chat monitor’ to enhance and streamline communication) as well as new formats for hybrid virtual/in-person meeting attendance (e.g., how to effectively engage with virtual attendees).
Be Creative. Think outside the box when it comes to bridging the gap between remote and in-office work. To assist in cross-pollination of ideas and innovation, encourage relationship building with those outside the workers’ traditional sphere of influence. For example, encourage the practice of logging into remote meetings early to allow for a period of reconnection, sharing ideas, and engaging in small talk.
Innovation, creativity, and the flexibility to see beyond traditional notions of what it means to “work,” are key elements in reimagining the workplace of the future. How we expand and shape these elements will set new standards of productivity and success – for the here and now – and in generations to come. The possibilities for change are endless.
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