When employees went to work from home in March 2020, most organizations saw this as a temporary deviation from the traditional way of doing business, one which would eventually return to “normal.” But as we’ve moved along, employees’ attitudes toward work have changed drastically. A recent SHRM survey report postulates that 64% of U.S. workers said their expectations for a job have changed since the Covid-19 pandemic, a phenomenon their chief knowledge officer Alex Alonso has labeled “Covid clarity.” But what exactly are these new expectations?
The Changing Talent Landscape
Of the 5,036 global knowledge workers surveyed in Jabra’s recent Hybrid Ways of Working 2021 Global Report, 48% said they’ve considered changing jobs. Fifty-nine percent reported that having the ability to work from wherever they want is more important to them than salary and other benefits. Similarly, 77% of Generation X (Gen X) employees surveyed say they would prefer to work for a company that gives them the flexibility to work from anywhere rather than a fancy corporate headquarters.
Instead of sleek buildings and more benefits, many employees indicate that what they really want is more autonomy to make their own decisions about how, when and where they carry out their work. In fact, 61% of respondents said they prefer that management allows them to come into the office when they need to and work from home when they need to. And perhaps the biggest enabler of success and inclusion in this hybrid way of working is flexible technology.
Employees want flexible technology to include everyone from everywhere.
Building A Flexible Environment
In hybrid working, employees want everyone to feel included and present in teams, meetings and the overall organizational culture. In fact, 9 in 10 employees globally agree that it’s important for all employees to feel valued and included, whether they should choose to work from home or in an office. To address this, 84% of respondents believe that collaboration technologies will help create a more equal and inclusive workforce. These technologies are intended to do this by:
- Helping provide equal access across different work environments (44%)
- Helping employees feel comfortable with virtual workspaces that are accessible anywhere (42%)
- Helping make everyone feel included and represented in meetings (41%)
- Reducing meeting fatigue (37%)
- Giving employees equal screen space (30%)
Needless to say, employees know that flexible work will present challenges, but that the tools to address these challenges are out there. Increasingly, they’ll be looking toward employers to equip them and their teams with technologies fit for a hybrid world.
Spotlighting Your Tech Strategy
During the remote work transition, the lack of digital maturity in many organizations became rapidly apparent, and many were forced to undergo a digital transformation at unprecedented rates. While some distributed companies that had been operating remotely for years had the tools in place to transition seamlessly, others did not. And for the latter, this lack of proper tools and technologies was felt most of all by the employees who relied on them to communicate and execute their daily tasks.
Now, when looking for a job, many employees will be looking for companies that take a “virtual-first” approach to work; they’ll be making sure that their prospective employer will invest in their ability to stay connected. In fact, 80% of Gen X respondents say they would rather work for an employer that invests in technology to connect the workforce in the hybrid future. Similarly, 80% of Millennials and 78% of Baby Boomers agree.
While some organizations such as Shopify provide an allowance for each employee to buy the tech and work-from-home tools that work best for them, my team’s most recent data actually shows that 68% of employees surveyed want standardized professional equipment across the company. And in the context of hybrid working, 55% of employees surveyed want that tech to come in the form of a flexible tech bundle that they can transport between work environments. Such a bundle should of course include a modern laptop, but also tools like a headset, video camera and — if space allows — wireless keyboard and mouse.
In your recruitment and hybrid planning activities, it’s not only important to show that your company allows employees to work flexibly with an autonomous and inclusive hybrid working strategy, but also that you enable them to do it with tools fit for a flexible world. In the hybrid “war on talent,” the expanse and visibility of your tech strategy will be a key differentiator.
This article was originally published on Forbes.com.