A diverse group of SIOP members are serving as Trend Champions for the people-related work trends that SIOP members collaboratively predicted to be the most impactful in 2023. Each Trend Champion has expertise in and professional passion for their trend subject. SIOP appreciates their service to the profession in providing quarterly updates on their chosen topics.
Find the full list of topics and links to the other Top 10 Work Trends here.
As we enter Q4 of 2023, managing hybrid workplaces has become a central challenge for organizations worldwide. Lessons from the past three quarters have shaped best practices aimed at ensuring productivity, collaboration, and employee well-being in this evolving work landscape. In Q4, the debate over whether companies should remain remote or transition to a hybrid model takes on significance as managers prioritize establishing effective communication channels to enhance team cohesion. Companies are increasingly open to hiring talent from diverse geographic locations and integrating them into their teams. A recent best practice gaining retraction is the use of Asynchronous Communication to enhance collaboration.
In Q4, effective and inclusive communication remains paramount. Asynchronous communication is a practice that revolves around several key elements, including clear communication, flexible deadlines, communication repositories, and regular check-ins. The primary advantage of this approach is that it liberates team members from the need to be online simultaneously; they can contribute to projects at their own convenience. By reducing the reliance on real-time meetings, it fosters inclusivity, benefiting both remote and in-office workers. A recent Harvard Business study uncovered a significant disparity: while 96% of employers believe they support their employees in achieving work-life balance, a striking 75% of workers feel otherwise. A Buffer study echoes this sentiment, with 20% of remote workers highlighting communication and collaboration as their primary challenges. Interestingly, 97% of remote workers in the same study expressed a preference for asynchronous communication over real-time interaction. Asynchronous communication brings additional advantages, such as enabling flexible schedules, allowing employees across the country to achieve a more harmonious work-life balance by tailoring their hours to suit their personal and professional commitments.
Moreover, it promotes diversity and inclusion by providing a platform where introverted or non-English-speaking team members can comfortably contribute. Safety tools and written communication empower them to participate at their convenience. This approach also fosters rapport among team members, as it allows for quick walkthrough videos or Slack messages to supplement in-person conversations. More technology companies are optimizing asynchronous communication tools to meet their diverse employees. A recent study by Yang et al. (2022) found that asynchronous communication has seen an increase compared to traditional synchronous communication.
In conclusion, the resurgence of asynchronous communication is a highly effective means of maintaining team cohesion and inclusiveness in the evolving workplace. It is particularly valuable for global teams operating across time zones and languages, reducing coordination challenges. Organizational Development practitioners can develop training programs and collaborate with IT teams to create technology tools for project completion.
The research released in the third quarter of 2023 has further reiterated the need for organizations to invest in technology and communication tools to support a more collective hybrid work model. According to Times of India, organizations must maximize technology integration to eliminate any disruption or obstacles that limits employee contribution. For example, integration should be crafted in technology use, workflows and meetings. Another example of how organizations are integrating technology use is the introduction of noise cancelling technologies for better audio experience and video content according to uctoday . Moreover, to support findings that maximize technology adoption for a more collaborative approach, Cio reports that organizations that offer digital collaboration to their employees will experience a 20 % increase in productivity. As a result, technology should be empowered and made accessible for employees to successfully complete their tasks, like when they worked in the office setting.
Another best practice for a collaborative approach in a hybrid work environment that organizations should consider is the need for empathetic and effective communication. Times of India, suggest that leaders should communicate effectively with their employees especially the younger professional to build that connection. For example, offering constructive-transparent feedback and acknowledging and celebrating efforts publicly during one-on-one to nurture a more meaningful dialogue between the manager and employee. Moreover, communicate with the team on availability, regular work schedule and update on project tasks. As mentioned in second quarter trend report, leveraging on communication and project management resources was very pivotal to bridge the gap in consistent communication and should continue to be implemented.
For the rest of 2023, organizations will need to leverage the gap between streamlining technology integration for employees to perform their job, while encouraging clear and consistent communication. More emphasis is needed to on both the person and the resource to increase organizational productivity and efficiency.
The Changing workforce dynamic has encouraged organizations to move to a hybrid work approach post-pandemic. Organizations are continuously looking for solutions and best practices that are suitable to employees work styles which in return will encourage collaboration within the workspace. A collaborative environment that keeps employees engaged while remaining productive. A newly published article emphasized collaboration techniques that managers can implement to keep hybrid workers motivated.
One of the frequently mentioned trends is the implementation of project management tools that will assign tasks and track employee’s progress, limiting the need to send continuous emails and messages throughout the day. Hence, regular emails will then be limited to other tasks. This will encourage employees to have more autonomy and keep track of progress on completed projects. Forbes adds that engaging employees to take responsibility builds trust and accountability, cultivating team building and promoting togetherness. In the article, I/O Practitioners also emphasize the need for managers to engage in more “trust-building” activities with employees as they navigate through the hybrid work environment.
MIT Sloan review. and deadlinenews. adds that managers should provide face-to-face meetings or social interaction gatherings (project kick-off meetings) where both informal communication and team cohesion care commenced. Employees are more likely to express themselves and share their perspectives without any formal structure to follow or kick back. As a result, a more shared understanding of the project at hand and team collaboration are initiated. For the rest of 2023, organizations will focus more on retention strategies, leaning towards intentional collaboration and inclusiveness in the “employee experience”.
As employers are transitioning away from remote work and onsite policies, the necessity to sustain a hybrid work environment is increasingly on the rise. In the first quarter of 2023, the need for employers to prioritize best practices for the hybrid approach has been a trending discussion surfacing within the workplace. A major concern of employees is to determine the best feasible approach to embrace hybrid work.
A newly published study addressed the future of hybrid work and how organizations are implementing and supporting sustainable hybrid work post-Pandemic. The study’s outcomes revealed that information and communications technology (ICT), as indicated by five key pillars: operations, culture, communication, and well-being solutions, were the best practices for supporting hybrid work arrangements. Under the operational pillar, employers are encouraged to introduce software tools (hoteling apps) to book workstations and (Monday, Trello, and Microsoft OneDrive) for effective workflow management.
The Wall Street Journal notes how Architects and Real Estate Developers are engineering innovative workspace and collaboration areas to fit the “work style” of the diverse work environment. An example is the newly open-air spaces and atrium-style area with a staircase that will function as an auditorium for town halls at Marriott International.
With the need to improve team culture, employers need to introduce tools such as Fond, Nectar, VIDIA OMNIVERSE, and Microsoft Mesh, to build connection, trust and foster a sense of psychological safety among employees. Hence, communication tools such as Virtual Reality (VR), Miro, and Mural were encouraged for better collaboration and virtual experience as the workplace is transitioning into a more metaverse environment. Employee well-being was also a major priority and employers were encouraged to administer well-being surveys, artificial intelligence, mediation, and exercises to monitor the overall physical, mental, and emotional state of employees.
With this hybrid work approach, more employees will have more preference and given impendence to choose between remote or hybrid work to suit their individual “workstyle”. The need for employers to implement the various ICT pillars will help employees adapt to the growing change of the new workforce dynamic.
Champion: Lucia Nkem
Lucia Nkem is a Clinical Project Associate and a full-time Business Psychologist Ph.D. Candidate. Her current research focuses on the impact of technological readiness and remote work resources on employee performance within the hybrid work environment. As an OD Practitioner and future work enthusiast, I have experience in survey development, Psychometrics and engagement assessment design for better employee experience as the workforce transition into hybrid setting.
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