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"Hybrid" vs. "Flexible" Work: Can technology close the expectation gap between employees and managers?

  • Written by Daniel Fields, Executive Director of Asia Pacific Services at Lenovo

As COVID-19 restrictions eased and offices reopen, business leaders are keen to get staff back into the office. However, a significant portion of workers wants to continue some form of remote work. Just over three-quarters (78%) of workers who can work remotely want to continue a hybrid environment with working from home as an option, and so do 39% of workers who currently must work onsite.

'Hybrid work' or 'flexible work' models hit their stride during the pandemic and are fast becoming the norm in today’s workforce. While the two concepts sound similar, they have distinct differences.

In hybrid work, employees work across both the office and home environment, which allows them to enjoy greater flexibility. According to Lenovo's The Future of Work study, most workers adapted well to remote work during the pandemic and 70% say the flexibility leaves them overall more satisfied with their job. On the other hand, flexible work refers to both workplaces and work hours – employees don't have to commit to a fixed schedule and location and can decide to head into the office (or not) based on their work and life commitments.

While both options are highly achievable, they are far from straightforward. Businesses need to ensure they have the right technology setup alongside aligned company policies to make both hybrid work and flexible work possible. The good news is that there are now many technology solutions, adopted and refined during the past two years, that can help bridge this gap.

How technology is shaping the employee experience 

Whether employees are doing hybrid or flexible work, businesses are now in a much better position to equip employees with the tools to work productively and seamlessly between home and the office.

The design of the workplace and technology solutions must start with the employee in mind, which means rethinking the role of the office and the tools that will help employees sustain their work arrangement preferences.

Leaders also must ensure that employees have the tools to work remotely at ease. There are many solutions available to help businesses, but the trick is to get the right tools to meet employees' needs from virtual meeting room platforms to workplace booking platforms that enable ease of hybrid working. With the right tools, business leaders can turn hybrid and flexible work into a seamless and efficient work arrangement.

Sustaining employee engagement in the long run

In addition to the right tech, organisations must assess the effectiveness of each tool and its impact on employee experience. With Lenovo Workplace Solutions, leaders can better manage office resources by tracking workspace and IT tool usage to plan and optimise utilisation.

Leaders must also collaborate with HR teams and department heads to keep track of employees' well-being and performance. According to research by Beyond Blue one in five Australians (21%) have taken time off work in the past 12 months because they felt stressed, anxious, depressed or mentally unhealthy, this statistic is more than twice as high (46%) among those who consider their workplace mentally unhealthy.

Simple check-ins at regular intervals can help managers provide the support that works for employees' needs while also leaving room to take more preventative measures for employees at risk of fatigue and burnout. Using both quantitative and qualitative insights, leaders can adapt the work arrangements and policies to meet employees' changing needs and retain engagement in the long run.

The future of work could be either hybrid or flexible, or both – but most importantly, it's one equipped with the right technology to work for the business and employees.

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