Managing a team of people working at different hours, from different locations is challenging enough but there’s an even bigger obstacle to building a happy, productive workforce – digital fatigue and anxiety.
Close to three-quarters (74%) of American and British workers have seen an increase in the use of business communication tools. They now spend nearly half of their working day (47.5%) using these platforms.
The consequences are considerable.
- 60% feel the pressure to respond quickly on these channels, regardless of whether they work from home or in the office.
- 49% link the increasing use of online communication tools with rising stress levels.
- 48% suffer from anxiety.
Many have succumbed to the fear of returning to the office, worried about their health, maintaining a good work-life balance, finding a convenient workspace in the office, and accomplishing their tasks for the day, be it working without interruptions or meeting key team members. The solution to these challenges is trifold: policy, clarity, and flexibility.
Tip #1: Don’t rely on the company policy alone
To be clear, you absolutely need one. Just don’t make the mistake of stopping there. Be strategic about it:
- What’s your long-term strategy and how does the new workplace policy fit into it?
- What’s the employee experience you’re building?
- Does it align with the business growth plans?
- Will it help attract and retain the talent you’re looking for?
Apple is a good example of a company-wide policy backfiring to a point where return to the office needs to be delayed several times. To escape a similar fate (and avoid becoming part of the Great Resignation), scratch all assumptions and talk to your people. For example, does the management understand employees’ true motivations to stay or to leave?
There are overarching principles that need to be set at the company level:
- The chosen hybrid work model, including the choice of work modes and locations available. To facilitate meeting coordination, consider setting fixed hours when people have to be available for calls and meetings.
- Curating a positive employee experience. It starts the moment a candidate applies for a job and continues to form throughout key moments and interactions every day: performance reviews, team meetings and events, the flexibility of working hours, the ease of finding and reserving a best-fit workspace in the office, etc.
- Recognizing effort and contribution, both professional achievements and other activities like helping to organize team building events. Workplace recognition provides a sense of accomplishment. It strengthens the feeling of being valued and appreciated and motivates engagement and productivity.
- Health and wellbeing support. 40% of Gen Z and Millennial workers want resources and access to wellbeing and mental health support. Few receive it. Survey your people to identify what they need the most, whether it’s self-care videos and meditation classes like at Culligan Water, or meeting-free Fridays à la Intel.
Once these principles are set in the company hybrid work policy, allow teams some flexibility in how they’re implemented, to create their hybrid work culture and routines.