Hybrid work environments are the future of many remote-capable employees, and 63% of many high-growth companies have adopted hybrid work models post-covid, as stated by Apollotechnical.com.
The world has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic for the past couple of years, which has threatened the world in terms of health, economics, and social living. One of the biggest challenges faced by workers during the COVID-19 crisis was to stop working together at workplaces and be forced to undergo work from remote environments.
During the pandemic period, several companies have implemented the hybrid workplace model for their employees. The hybrid work environment is a work model that mixes the in-office and remote work environment in order to give flexibility & support to the employees. This hybrid workplace model allows an employee to have more autonomy and to enjoy a perfect work-life balance.
COVID-19 has changed the way people do business in almost every industry. To ensure public safety, job-holders and workers, companies around the world enforce the work-from-home model. As the world has come out of the COVID-19 crisis, workplace management is yet to decide on bringing employees back to the office.
Let’s take the discussion to the next level.
Here are some current work challenges related to the Hybrid Work Environment discussed in brief
Now, companies are waking up to the benefits of remote work culture. Those days are gone when an employee needs to work from 9 to 5 during the weekdays. Companies from all industries prefer hybrid work culture; however, there are some challenges that need to be addressed before implementation.
Hybrid work environments have created a mix of options among companies around the world. The arrangement of implementing a hybrid work environment would be a daunting task for companies yet to adopt. Below are some major challenges of a hybrid work environment defined.
In-Office Culture’s Flexibility Becomes A Big Question:
Before the pandemic, office culture insists all employees work in the same place, and that leads to dependency on everyone. Now, in the post-endemic period, employees have become more independent, which leads to less flexibility. According to the Gartner survey, nearly 76% of employees have found the office culture has changed and has become less flexible and friendlier.
Lack of Communication:
Hybrid work arrangements are going to be the norm; however, technological difficulties create basic communication challenges. Lack of clear communication in a hybrid work culture will cause confusion and isolation among remote workers, as some employees are more comfortable speaking up over screens than others. And it may lead to employee morale issues as well.
Inequality In Employee’s Career Advancement:
Offering promotions or other career advancement options to employees who have more visibility or who prefer an in-office work culture is higher when compared with employees who prefer a remote work culture.
Unconscious Bias for In-person Workers:
The risk of workers with passive face time (remote working) getting low pay when compared with in-person workers (office workers) is high as their good work could go unrecognized and unrewarded. This will affect the career advancement of workers working in remote work cultures.
Lack of Good Work-Life Balance:
According to International Workforce Insights, work-life balance has improved for most people since the pandemic. However, for some employees, it negatively impacts their mental health, as the stress level of workers working from home or remote places is high when compared with in-person workers. Additionally, there are no micro-goals and micro-wins set for remote workers to avoid burnout.
Unused on-site workspaces:
In post-pandemic, workers may have the fear of returning to in-office work culture because of overcrowding in the same place and other safety measures. Workspace areas like conference rooms, hot desk areas, or other communal workspaces remain unused; which would be a waste of resources.
Unable to offer the best of benefits to employees:
According to a study, working from home reduces a person’s mental ability and physical strength, as management does not offer adequate and essential facilities to employees to set up a regular schedule to have food, medicine, and time to relax.
Lack of Collaboration:
It is impossible to find all employees in the same place at the same time in a hybrid working environment that results in a lack of synchronoused collaboration among the team. As collaboration is the key to success and quality deliveries, it is a must for businesses to re-establish an all-essential sense of collaboration across distance.
Lack of Engagement:
According to McKinsey, creating “small moments of engagement” among employees creates a positive workplace culture; however, it is near to impossible with the hybrid work culture. Nearly two-thirds of employees have friends in the office that make their job enjoyable. But, keeping up with those connections when people aren’t physically working together becomes more difficult.
Read ahead for an overview of automation at every level and department of an organization
The workplace can be defined as the physical location of a company, but now it is most likely considered a perfect mixture of technology and people. The work-from-home culture has changed earlier beliefs and provided a new space for workers.
One of the main and most important problems for companies across industries facing remote work culture is about making use of automation technology. Automation in the workplace can be an effective solution to improve productivity even among workers from hybrid work models.
Automation in marketing: Automated messages can be sent to customers as a response to their queries. It certainly helps in managing the business and having a strong relationship with customers.
Human resource automation: As a part of automation, human resource activities such as payroll, reimbursements, timesheets, and so on can be easily managed online without any time consumption.
Automation of data mining and analytics: Automation tools are highly effective in detecting various data patterns and making products. Data collected in the form of physical inputs are useful to analyze and integrate without any stress.
Automate inventory management and distribution processes: To keep track of activities such as inventory management and forecast demands and to make the managers aware of the processes, automation is necessary.
Automatic onboarding and offboarding processes: Employees can easily access data for uploading or retrieving along with various tools and applications as a part of an automated process.
A look into different types of automation
Automation in the workplace is a disruptive technology that helps businesses achieve greater efficiency. According to the “Zapier’s: The 2021 State of business automation” report around 88% of small-to-medium-sized businesses preferred to use automation processes at their workplaces to compete with larger scale competitors.
According to recent study reports published in Gartner and Forrester, investment in automation will reach $355.44 billion by the end of the year 2028. Also, about 65% of workers from various industries ‘ automated processes have helped them to reduce their work-related stress.
Below are the types of automation discussed in brief:
1. Basic Automation: It is one of the automation types used to automate simple and easy-going tasks. An example of basic automation can be set up like this: setting a reminder to make a call to the customer at a specific time.
2. Process automation: Automation is mainly used to manage major business processes by offering consistency and transparency. This would be the perfect example of process automation: Customer calls can be directly set to a specific employee.
3. Integration automation: Automation makes use of machines to perform human tasks as per the given specifications. This could be a perfect example of integration automation: Customer calls can be recorded by the machine automatically.
4. Artificial intelligence automation: Complex type of automation that involves machines that can understand the situation and make decisions. Well, for automated AI, this scenario could be the perfect real-time example; the virtual assistant can help troubleshoot a customer query.
Let’s move further to discuss how automation in the workplace has become more than obvious
Our workplace is already automated. Yes, you read it right.
Modern companies use the automation process in many ways and leverage its full benefits. There is a scope for automation in almost any business, across all domains. Remember, automation won’t replace human resources; it will free them from executing repetitive tasks and help to improve consistency.
Here are some of the ways to bring workplace digitization:
Automated Workflow: As the name suggests, the automated workflow reduces the employee’s burden and allows them to easily complete their daily routine process. An automated system can send automatic reminders to people who are about to take part in a meeting or task. Likewise, it will automatically record the entire meeting or tasks and send a copy to each participant. This improves productivity at a significant rate.
Voice Activated Automation: It enables business stakeholders to start the meeting with a word, call people instantly, and do many more activities. This influence will improve work efficiency by allowing companies to get things done quickly.
Meeting Automation: Automation in the workplace has become the perfect solution for companies to conduct meetings, as it makes things simple. With the right set of technology, meetings can be synced with calendars. This empowers employees to get their work done faster and in a more systematic way.
Virtual Assistants: When it comes to AI automation in the workplace, virtual assistants are an excellent example where one can easily understand how AI empowers the workspace. Virtual assistance collects the user’s information and provides the right information. This helps businesses stay productive. Companies manage to drive a better customer experience through virtual assistance by assisting customers to solve their problems quickly.
Let’s deep dive into implementation and use cases of the automation in the workplace
The work-from-home culture has completely changed the functioning of organizations during the pandemic. Hybrid workplaces have slowly accepted the changes that are required to work remotely from remote places. The hybrid work environment has to follow certain norms while implementing the automation processes.
Here’s the list of a few key considerations that every organization should keep an eye on for a smooth business operation.
Internal Communication: Effective communication plays a vital role in managing a business, either at the workplace or at home. It is required to develop good communication skills among the employees by planning strategies and using advanced technologies. Communication is essential to have smooth coordination between various departments and also have employees working at different locations.
Collaboration: Connectivity, both in-office and remote working employees, is needed to create an efficient hybrid workplace. There are many hybrid working tools available to enable collaboration in a location and device-agnostic manner. This will help employees everywhere receive the same collaboration experience, and workflows stay reliable while employees switch between locations. In addition, automation with cloud computing enables efficient work collaboration across platforms as a result, it boosts productivity.
Employee Engagement: Accelerating employee engagement in a hybrid workplace is challenging, but technology is the one connection point that makes it possible. Investing in the right tools and technologies ensures a successful hybrid work culture. Microsoft Viva, the first employee experience platform, brings communication, resources, learning, and insights together – empowering teams and employees to be their best, from anywhere. In fact, such a platform also helps enterprises improve wellbeing and employee connections, strengthen company culture, and foster learning.
Fostering innovation: Having innovative ideas and ways of working requires the involvement of all employees, a deep understanding of every process, and brainstorming sessions that are highly useful. Employees working in offices can easily come up with useful ideas, but those working in a hybrid work environment need more time and are also required to have effective communication skills. The human-to-human connection will always help in creative thinking.
Employees who work from home always find it difficult to get the required information on time. It is required to adapt to workplace digitization tools that ensure better communication and higher collaboration while working from remote places. Automation workspace delivers the same. In addition, it provides a lot of benefits to an organization, take a look.
Benefits of Implementing Automation in Workspace
In a recent survey conducted by PWC, more than 50% of the US population strongly believes tech developments like automation in the workplace will bring new job prospects in the near future. Automation will increase work efficiency and allow employees to work more efficiently to increase productivity. Here are the key benefits offered by automation to an organization.
Increased Productivity & Performance: Automation in the workplace frees up employees from several manual tasks and the hassles of doing repetitive tasks. Employees can have more time to focus on improving their work value. This drives innovation in the workplace and takes business to a new height with a competitive edge.
Cost Savings: Automation in the workplace reduces employees’ time spent on business workflows and tasks. This will increase productivity and also result in greater cost savings for companies.
Enhanced Safety Measures: Automation in labor-intensive environments will eliminate the risk factors for employees. In 2020, at the height of the pandemic, several companies used robots for cleaning and sanitizing floors, among other things.
Reduces Human Errors: As automation almost removes manual work, the presence of human errors is reduced significantly. This will be a win-win situation for both companies and employees while handling tedious workflows.
Getting started with Automation in a Hybrid Workplace
The hybrid work environment has become popular in today’s business world. The work-from-home option has become more of a necessity than a choice, and it has to be managed with several complexities and everyday issues.
Being always reachable and easily available for communication is thriving in today’s fast-paced world. No other working environment but a hybrid working environment supports these two: availability and easy communication. The use of intelligent devices, automation, with the help of strategic planning and a hybrid work environment, encourages employees to work remotely.
Here are the key foundational elements for implementing automation in a new hybrid work model in an organization.
1) Intelligent, intuitive workplace technology:
A hybrid working environment lets employees work on smart technology where employees can engage in work easily. This enables an organization to get the most productivity out of its employees.
Here are lists of a few workplace technologies with automation that can be used in a hybrid work environment.
– Touchless devices are implemented in several places by organizations to eliminate the possibility of touching and device-sharing activities among employees.
– The use of the Internet of things (IoT) along with advanced telemetry can make the environment alert. It is also effective in keeping track of any incidence with proximity.
– The use of digital signage at specific locations in the organization kept reminding the employees about the safety guidelines and healthcare issues.
– Organizations can use technology to get connected to smart devices such as heat sensors, CCTVs, and smart lighting devices, along with strong connectivity to IoT devices.
– Using automation devices in planning and policies helps to build a powerful network that manages automation, analytics, and micro-segmentation.
– The use of web apps helps organizations customize their business processes and allows them to improve their business by conducting routine surveys.
2) Zero-trust strategy:
A zero-trust approach adopted and practiced by the organizations to tackle the COVID-19 crisis has brought several positive changes in the organization. Under this approach, employees are free to work with their own expertise, yet the organization can watch every stage and step of work done by employees.
Here are the aspects provided by zero-trust security, in terms of automation in a hybrid work environment.
– Consistent control over the policy
– Gains more visibility across the work environment.
– Improved threat detection
– Deployment with end-to-end encryption & authentication
3) Real-Time Collaboration:
The main focus of the organization remains on employees and their safety, technically advanced devices, and physically installed components. A strong monitoring system is used to detect, respond, and improve the situation with the help of logs and reports. With real-time collaboration in the work environment, neither employers nor employees need to wait to contact each other. Employee queries and problems are solved in real-time and the employer gets work done in real-time.
Here are the lists of a few advanced technological devices with Automation in the workplace that provide real-time collaboration in a hybrid work environment.
– AI-driven devices for productivity
– Headsets for helping employees stay focused
– Video conferencing tool for a better customer experience.
4) Full-stack observability:
In an organization, the IT team often undergoes the tedious job of ensuring optimized user and application experience in a distributed work environment. The team would require full-stack observability for better visibility and desire data insight for taking actions. In addition, full-stack observability allows IT teams to work collaboratively to increase user experience and performance. This will help an organization plan its future goals.
5) Secure Access Service Edge (SASE):
For better performance and protection in the cloud, an organization requires additional security. The existing architecture will not support the organization with the needed agility while experiencing growth. This is where the SASE architectural approach comes into play. The SASE approach offers exceptional networking capabilities along with the desired cloud-native security features. This helps organizations simplify their workflow and streamline their cloud operations.
Yes! Automation in the workplace is crucial but also a gamechanger for organizations
Technology has become a part of every business venture. The use of advanced technology and the latest techniques can certainly bring positive change in the operation while conducting the business from the office atmosphere or hybrid work atmosphere.
The hybrid environment has certainly changed the mindset of employees and has enhanced employee workability. In recent years, companies have introduced intelligent applications and a hybrid work environment during the pandemic. By doing so, they easily get rid of the in-office anxiety of their employees. Also, a hybrid work environment allows employees and organizations to utilize the power of data insight to improve work through a collaborative workforce.