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June 12, 2023

Inclusivity and Equity: The keys to hybrid workplace success

People are sitting on the staircase and having a discussion.

The increase in hybrid work has caused a disconnect. According to Gartner, only 24% of hybrid and remote knowledge workers report feeling connected to their organization's culture1. And although hybrid working was expected to lead to breakthroughs in employee output, Gartner reported that more than half of workers find that hybrid working has not changed, and even harmed, their productivity2.

The distributed nature of hybrid work means that employees are now attempting to work and collaborate across locations and time zones. This decreased face time with colleagues means fewer ‘watercooler’ moments that spark great ideas, the loss of camaraderie that makes working enjoyable, and the dearth of opportunities that keep workers loyal.

 

A nuanced problem is also emerging: proximity bias, the favoritism that is directed to employees who come into office versus those who work remotely. 41% of executives are worried3 – and looking for solutions to prevent such inequities in the workplace.

In every challenge is an opportunity. The upheaval from the pandemic is the chance for business leaders to reimagine workspaces, meetings points, and means of digital engagement. Through smart and reliable devices, organizations can give employees the mobility, flexibility and autonomy needed for a stronger and more resilient business.

Decoding employee expectations

It goes without saying that flexibility is the cornerstone of hybrid working. Employees want the freedom to work wherever and whenever they want. But when we drill down to the lived experience of hybrid work, we find that employees across America, Europe and Asia have a myriad of scheduling, location, communication and collaboration styles and preferences4.

Leaders must organize around these core expectations to realize the full potential that is hybrid working.

The means to work flexibly and productively

According to Gartner Report: 5 Global Digital Work Preferences That Drive Hybrid Work Equity5, most workers say that they’ve become somewhat or much more productive thanks to hybrid working. This is especially so in India (49%) and Australia (34%)6, where flexible working hours and location as well as time saved on commuting respectively have helped employees work according to their needs.

For hybrid work to take off, leaders need to jump straight in and allow employees the freedom to work wherever and whenever they want. Additionally, 40% of leaders have said that employees want improved PCs and device management to support hybrid work environments7 – allowing employees to communicate, collaborate and be productive wherever they go.

Meaningful interaction and engagement

Many people derive meaning and sense of belonging from work, yet Covid-19 largely prevented workers from meeting and engaging. As we shift to hybrid work, there is a real possibility that remote workers feel alienated from office life. In fact, Microsoft’s 2022 Work Trend Index found that 43% of remote workers do not feel included in meetings, and not enough employees are doing anything about it8.

These are statistics that companies cannot afford to ignore. Meaningful interaction and engagement at work fosters relationships and boosts employees’ sense of wellbeing. Those who have thriving relationships with their team members report higher productivity and greater loyalty to their company. For hybrid work to succeed, leaders must create space for relationships within and across in-office and remote teams to grow and thrive. This comes down to technology and culture.

Employees need the right tools for the job. ASUS hardware and software work in tandem to give employees smart and secure experiences – transcending location and time zones for effective and inclusive collaboration. For example, AI-powered two-way noise-canceling in ASUS Expert Series can help remote workers feel seen and heard, while digital collaboration tools ensure that everyone has a chance to contribute. Leaders and managers can also mindfully create practices that encourage equal contribution and bonding time.

And perhaps an idea that’s not as far-fetched as you might think – preparing for the metaverse. Already, 52% of employees are open to using digital immersive spaces in the metaverse to carry out meetings and team activities9. Next-generation hardware could support these future workloads.

Inspiring spaces to co-create

In a hybrid working world, employees are increasingly untethered from the office. What that means – when workers choose to go back to the office, they do so for every intentional reasons.

The physical office must reflect that. The reimagined office must become an inspiring space for creation and co-creation – consider large meeting rooms equipped with upgraded meeting technology to enhance hybrid meetings; breakout zones for small teams to brainstorm and collaborate; and quiet pods for individual workers to do deep work when needed.

A balance between support and autonomy

According to Gartner, 68% of workers are frequently asked for advice about using digital technology10. In a hybrid working world, employees need to have help always on hand to ensure a high level of efficiency and productivity.

Employees need to measure autonomy to help themselves in a hybrid working world – IT service management capabilities or self-service hubs could be the answer to this. But they also need a cushion to fall back on – like ASUS provides through MyASUS with round-the-clock support services in any geographical location.

This also comes down to culture, with leadership and organizations that have set out a clear set of principles and guidelines with respect to hybrid working, and open lines of communication to give feedback or seek help when needed.

It’s a mindset shift

The success of hybrid working has to start with understanding employee needs and expectations. Flexible working is inherently diverse and complicated, but with a combination of technology, culture, and commitment to inclusivity and equity, organizations can make strides towards the ideal of hybrid working – and its promises of greater flexibility, productivity, and wellbeing.

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