The always-on, always-working mindset has caught on, largely due to the rise of technology and the demand for more flexible workplaces. While initially introduced to boost employee satisfaction, flexible policies and technology use actually have a greater impact on productivity, and ultimately business performance.
The environment in which people work affects how productive they are. Nearly two in three employees think a flexible and remote work schedule increases productivity, according to a recent survey by Cornerstone OnDemand. The most productive work environment is an enclosed office, followed by partitioned cubicles, open desk layout and working remotely, accordingly.
While working in an enclosed office is the most promising for productivity, a good chunk of employees — 19 percent — say working remotely is the most productive environment, likely due to the fact that they can control the distractions around them. Forty-three percent of employees say impromptu visits by colleagues are distracting, according to the survey.
Digital Communication Enables Remote Workers
Even though some employees prefer work from home policies, only one in five are allowed to work remotely. True, employees can’t communicate with colleagues in-person, but the majority of workplace communication happens digitally anyway. Nearly two in five employees believe emails and instant messages allow them to be more productive than having in-person or phone conversations.
The percentage of employees that prefer in-person collaboration compared to digital collaboration is decreasing — 63 percent this year compared to 71 percent last year. But there’s a fine balance for using online communication to boost or destroy productivity. Some employees find emails, social media alerts and instant messages to be distracting, so be sure that employees know what kind of communication their colleagues prefer.
The key to high productivity and flexible work schedules is arming employees with the right technology. Almost two out of three employees agree that given the right technology, in-person meeting can be replaced completely. Digital natives are demanding a more flexible workplace, and companies are listening and changing accordingly, but more need to put their employees first and do so faster.
And take a look at our infographic on how workspace matters:
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Preparing Your Workforce for Digital Transformation
Make talent development a priority in the age of digital disruption Ready or not – digital transformation is here. With technology developing more rapidly than ever, the way we do business is changing and it affects everything from customer acquisition and our product offerings, to our tools and processes, to our workforce and work environments. To succeed in a rapidly changing market, organizations must adapt their talent management practices to reflect new digital innovations and processes. Constellation Research discovered that industry-leading companies' ability to adapt to digital disruption was a key factor in their long-term success. As many organizations begin to radically reimagine how they leverage technology and processes, a need for a new talent development strategy arises. No organization wants to be left behind because they failed to adapt well enough or fast enough to the changing digital landscape. So, how can organizations disrupt their talent development strategies to help succeed in the age of digital transformation? How to futureproof your organization in the age of digital transformation It's a sobering fact: Talent development strategies that worked in the past may no longer work in the near future. Human Resources (HR) and Learning and Development (L&D) teams must become true business partners and create a continuous, hyper-connected development experience for people that aligns to the ever-shifting goals of the business. This eBook offers research-backed strategies that will show you how to create a digitally centered, learning-focused talent development environment that will help your organization keep its competitive edge in the era of digital transformation. You'll gain insights into: Determining your organization’s level of digital transformation preparedness Coaching strategies to prep your workforce for digital transformation How to champion a culture of learning to enable ongoing employee skill development Download our eBook to discover the talent development best practices you – and your people – need in order to futureproof your organization while putting your people in the driver’s seat of their own experience.
5 Tips for Crisis Management in the Digital Age
Crisis management is a tool many leaders keep in their toolkit, but secretly hope they never need to use on a grand scale. While minor situations arise regularly in the course of business, larger scale issues can end careers and destroy entire corporate profiles if handled incorrectly. We need only look to Equifax and their epic data breach, which called for the release of their CEO and launched a Department of Justice investigation, to see the sweeping impact of poorly handled crises. Many of us might say what we "would" do if we were in such a situation, but until it happens, we really have no idea. This is where crisis communications becomes incredibly important, and HR plays a pivotal role. It's been said failure to plan is planning to fail, and never is this old adage more true than ensuring a strategy to handle a large-scale public relations disaster. As we now live in a time now where cloud-based technology is more prevalent, the digital realm is the new marketplace, and crises of this magnitude and type will happen more frequently, leadership must be prepared in advance to manage crisis in the digital age. Establish Personalities in Advance of the Crisis One of the benefits of social media and the 24/7 news cycle is that it provides opportunity to raise the public profile of anyone and everyone. While it's not necessary that all corporate leadership be incredibly active on social media from a personal perspective, it is extremely important that the company be proactive in building trust from the beginning. Get your leadership in front of your customers and communicate frequently across traditional and social media. It creates a personal connection with your company and shows there are people behind the issues. Gather Around the Message Immediately When the world of communication works on a 24/7 cycle, so must your leadership team. Have emergency communication protocols in place and ensure that they're followed. Your team must get on board with a strategic, unified message immediately and follow your crisis communication plan, which should be in place and reviewed every 3-6 months. Communicate with Employees Your best course of action is to communicate immediately and to arm all those involved with everything they need to communicate that not only are you on top of the matter, but that it won't happen again. This not only encompasses conversations with external media, but also includes conversations with your employees to ensure they can pivot with the leadership team and remain connected to your overall vision. Deploy Your Leadership Brand An established leadership brand is one of the greatest corporate assets during times of corporate strife. Your leadership brand usually emanates from your CEO, but it's more about what your leaders are known for in your organization, and it informs how your employees should act at all times. It also means that individuals at all levels instinctively know how to conduct themselves in a crisis because it's ingrained in the corporate culture and everything they do. They put the customer first, they protect the corporate identity and they remain focused on the cause. Practice Humility Finally, one of the greatest assets in our leadership arsenal is also the oldest in the book: be humble. In this fast-paced world, mistakes are bound to happen. Admitting fault and owning up to one's mistakes quickly is something that separates great leaders from those who inevitably fail. Photo: Creative Commons
Dear ReWorker: How Do I Successfully Communicate Policy Changes to Employees?
Dear ReWorker, With all the new laws, policy changes and recommendations lately, I feel like our handbook needs to be updated every three days. How do we successfully communicate these changes to employees? Given the high volume, it feels like more people are going to ignore them. Signed, Clearing Things Up _____________________ Dear Clearing Things Up, In the past four months, you’ve probably implemented and adjusted about 400 policies, sometimes changing the same one back and forth multiple times. When even the CDC reverses course on mask usage, how on earth is your Human Resource department supposed to keep up? While you’re furiously researching new guidelines, double-checking with your employment attorney and scouring the internet for best practices, it’s possible to forget the most critical step: communicating with staff. (Luckily, you seem to be on top of that.) Communicating policy changes can be tricky, especially when it’s information that employees need to know and act on immediately. Here are some ideas for getting that information out. 1. Don’t Use HR Speak "The EEOC has declared COVID-19 a direct threat, and, as such, there is a suspension of the ADA when it comes to medical tests at work. You will have your temperature taken every morning." That first sentence is your justification for why you’re taking temperatures, but your staff doesn’t know about the EEOC, direct threats or the ADA. Making that the focus of a policy change announcement will most likely make employees’ eyes glaze over, and they’ll miss out on critical information. 2. Lead With the What, Not the Why Instead, lead with the action, or the "what." The "why," or your reason for putting a policy in place, is obviously important. It’s the larger problem you’re trying to solve, while the "what" is what you’ve painstakingly chosen as the best possible solution. Employees, however, are generally less interested in the "why"—especially when there are a lot of new policies to review. Try this language: "During the pandemic, we will be taking temperatures every morning before you enter the building. Anyone with a fever of X or above or with other COVID-19-related symptoms (outlined below) will be sent home to recover." Then, you can add more details, such as whether they will receive sick pay or not, how long they need to stay home and if they need to contact their doctor. For hand-sanitizing standards, you could simply write, "Help keep everyone safe! Use the provided hand sanitizer when you arrive at work and every time you step out of your office." This messaging is clear and understandable. 3. Vary How You Distribute New or Updated Policy Information If you have an online handbook and you simply update it, precisely no one will read it. If everyone has a company email address (though this isn’t the case as often as you might think it is), sending the policy change via email can be effective, but not completely. Consider some of the following channels as well. Post a sign on the fridge in the breakroom (if workers are back on site). Ask managers to communicate directly to their staff. Send out a text message. Mail information to employees’ homes. Share in an all-hands meeting. Share in a corporate messaging system, like Slack. Do all of the above. But when should you use which method? Determining how to distribute information depends on how you typically communicate. If you regularly send out information via text message, this is a good way to go. If you’ve never done it before, employees may feel like it’s a weird invasion of privacy. If employees are coming back to work in three months, consider sending hard copy information to their houses ahead of their return. This will give them plenty of time to review the changes—but if they start tomorrow, this technique won’t work. Figure out where employees gather, what has been effective in the past and how you can track the exchange of information. Depending on how significant a policy change is, getting it out there effectively can require multiple steps. In some instances, you may need proof that everyone has seen and understood it. Managers might have to oversee the collection of signed forms or ask employees log into the company website to acknowledge they’ve read it. 4. Prepare for Questions No matter how much effort you go through to explain a new policy, you’ll get people who signed without reading, tuned out when their manager spoke or deleted the email unread. You’ll get people complaining that they were never told, that the policy is unfair and that you are a careless person for enforcing it. Be prepared. Do your best to answer questions and provide backup for the change—even if the how, what and why were all clearly explained in your communications. People don’t like change, and there has been too much lately. Making sure you cover all your bases when you communicate a policy shift will help things go much more smoothly. For more information on how to help your organization adapt, stay informed, and build a workplace strategy now and beyond this crisis, you can access these resources provided by industry experts and Cornerstone clients and partners.