Embracing a hybrid working environment

We’re coming up to 18 months since most individuals and businesses shifted to remote working, at least in part, if not in full. With the vaccine roll-out in the UK running according to plan, we are now looking forward to a post-pandemic working life. What will our post-pandemic work life look like…? While some organizations, such as Twitter, have made the decision to a fully virtual working environment going forward, the majority of us will have a mixture of both office-based and home-based working, and rightly so. One thing that came to light when the shift to remote working took place, was the balance and flexibility that comes with working from home. Many employees will want to keep this balance and therefore employers will have to adapt in order to retain talent moving forward.

However difficult 2020 may have been for the workforce, it certainly has set us in good stead to succeed at remote working in the future. The technical infrastructure is in place to maintain productivity and encourage communication amongst peers. Companies were forced to embrace data and analytics to aid in anticipating market dynamics and adjust to the constant change that occurred throughout the year. It’s this embrace of data and analytics that can be applied to managing this new working dynamic, a hybrid between the office and home.

During 2020, data provided clarity on what was actually happening, in a time where we were overwhelmed with information by the media. It gave leaders crucial insights which resulted in better decisions, more structure for employees, and appropriate policies. It revealed gaps which needed closing and guided IT in delivering solutions that materially improved the employee experience and maintained productivity during unprecedented times. It’s these hurdles that we have overcome during such a short space of time that needed to happen in order to cope with the pandemic and for companies to keep working throughout. Because of this transition period, we now have the option of working from home full time or a hybrid of home and office. If there is one positive thing that the pandemic has led to, it is that all of the necessary infrastructure is in place for us to have more flexibility with our working lives.

The majority knew the benefits of data and analytics before the pandemic, and the stats only continued to grow in favour of, over the past year. In 2020, Qlik conducted a study with IDC, organisations reported that investments in data management and analytics played a significant role in: driving revenue (75%), profit (74%), customer satisfaction and loyalty (75%), and employee retention (70%). Per McKinsey said that digital adoption has taken a “quantum leap” during the pandemic at both organisational and industry levels.  

2020 showed us a different way of doing things and how much we gained from it. Leaders need to continue building upon these solid foundations and enable a culture of data-driven decision-making suited for the hybrid workplace. But how can leaders go beyond disseminating data through technology to successfully embed it throughout the hybrid workforce?

  1. Collaboration, not just communication

A  mixture of office life and work from home life, as opposed to just working from home, will require even more collaboration between teams and managers across physical and digital spaces. The challenge is to encourage individuals to share their unique insights and experiences in a new digital format. With the added complication of staff members potentially moving from day-to-day, from home to office and vice versa. This constant changing and moving around will only increase the use of SaaS applications.

CIOs need to include data orchestration in their strategies to avoid creating data islands. Another hurdle they need to overcome is to ensure the data from SaaS apps is finding its way into overall decision workstreams. Make sure that when purchasing SaaS apps, they can connect via APIs so you can easily integrate your work flows.

A data workplace strategy that supports collaborative processes will provide employees with the ability to explore real-time data, more deeply, and across departments therefore finding value from it in their roles.

  1. Regular training to facilitate data literacy 

Data and data analytics technologies are constantly evolving, therefore employees need to evolve with them. Regular and persistent training should be woven throughout the company’s data strategy.

If employees cannot keep up with technologies, then as a result, individuals will not be able to read, understand, question or argue with data. This means that employees would be unable to confidently understand and articulate the data needed to make decisions.

Data literacy is the foundation for employees to share their knowledge with others and as a result help the business operate as competitively as possible. In order to achieve this, upskilling will be constant. Companies should even consider surveying employees to get a sense of what data they use, what areas they are confident in, and what areas upskilling is needed.

  1. Re-inforce data-driven decision-making

Even with all collaborative methods in place and data literacy incorporated throughout the company strategy, leaders still need to reinforce maintaining a data-driven decision-making approach for all employees across the organization. This will ensure consistency, trust and accuracy throughout the workforce. In order to achieve this executives and managers need to consistently lead by example.

One way to get your team on board with data-driven decision-making is to demonstrate the organization’s commitment to using data and analytics to benefit employees. This will drive employee engagement and serve as a reminder that data has the power to make change at all levels of business.