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Welcome to workplace 2.0: embracing flexibility and connection

By Lauren Crennell |



The Drum Network article

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May 4, 2022 | 5 min read

Where, when, and how are you helping your teams work in the new hybrid world? Lauren Crennell, human resources manager at digital agency UNRVLD, tells us that workplace 2.0 is here – so it’s time to move past the buzzwords and embrace genuine people-first thinking.

UNRVLD on what the future workplace needs will be.

UNRVLD on what future workplace needs will require.

The pandemic has changed the world of work forever. The state of emergency that sent workers home has evolved into a permanent hybrid model for many.

Employers have had to reset their HR processes to support the changing needs of employees. That means embracing digital as a vehicle for many aspects of the delivery of their internal services.

Worryingly, according to Gartner, 49% of businesses don’t have an explicit future of work strategy in place. At UNRVLD this shift to a ‘work 2.0’ model is a business priority to ensure happier employees, always-on knowledge sharing, and talent retention.

The pandemic drove a year-and-a-half wedge between employers and their staff and has had many knock-on ‘silent’ effects. The lack of physical contact time has caused a significant reduction in casual day-to-day communications, where much learning and sharing used to take place. No longer do employees walk past someone’s desk, ask a quick question, and receive an instant answer; or have an informal catch-up with colleagues over lunch.

For new starters, this has been particularly challenging. The lack of face-to-face contact and routine guidance can make them feel isolated.

People-first thinking

To ensure close engagement with employees and projects, we’ve introduced more regular progress meetings with teams. Now, employees routinely review their current work situations, talk through progress and raise any blockers they are facing. We’ve also introduced company-wide Teams-based monthly town halls to ensure wider communications are maintained and aligned. These sessions include anonymous Q&As to give the opportunity to bring up more sensitive issues.

We’ve completely reworked our intranet to be an up-to-date resource on the business. It now includes company news, projects, internal documents, and training. These new actions focus on creating a good work-life community to ease the struggle of working from home and enable better connections with colleagues.

Practical flexibility

We’ve implemented flexible working hours and locations. Before the pandemic, many employers would not be inclined to choose working from home as protocol, fearing lowered productivity. When working from home became mandatory, many companies were forced to trust their staff more than before. This has made a positive impact on employee culture and has been empowering for many. It has caused employers and employees to readdress the balance in their relationships. It has also created a people-focused way of working for many. At UNRVLD we have taken a holistic view of initiatives before deciding to roll out something new to the wider company.

These changes have been essential to adapting to this new world of work, and as we move forward we have to continue to shift and adjust for employees’ needs.

Attract and train

It’s challenging to predict what training and evolution is needed long-term for any business in any industry. We must focus on ensuring the new talent we’re fostering is right for the future and that, if they want to grow and evolve, we can facilitate their needs.

There are multiple ways we can attract new staff. Proving we have robust training and development programs is crucial for new starters looking to grow their skills within the industry.

This also applies to current employees; we need to keep them excited about working for us. We show commitment to our staff by encouraging them to expand their knowledge. We clearly define objectives and skills we would like them to foster, but we also support their personal goals regarding career growth.

We’re constantly reassessing our training programs in order to be ahead of the curve and to give staff the best support to answer the industry’s demands. Since the pandemic, we have had to be as dynamic as possible with training to ensure it remains thorough and effective.

Listen to your employees

To have the best staff engagement and alignment and therefore growth, it’s imperative to understand what your employees require. They need to understand what you as an employer expect of them, and you need to know what they expect of you. Communications are a high priority, so staff don’t feel out of the loop or unimportant. The struggle over the last two years makes this more pertinent than ever. Keep your current employees excited to work for you and give your new talent the room they need to grow.

You can see more thoughts on workplace 2.0 on UNRVLD’s YouTube channel.

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