Surprising productivity considerations of hybrid and remote working.
Even though our colleagues may be online, there is cause for concern that we could become increasingly disconnected, especially in exclusively remote working conditions. How are these new factors affecting team dynamics and productivity?
Working from home has shown that some employees have become more effective on this model, while others find it difficult to maintain productivity or may find themselves feeling increasingly preoccupied and disengaged.
There are many private difficulties that can detract from employees’ wellbeing and ability to function at their best in their careers which may leave them less inclined to go the extra mile for their employers or clients. For employers, the shake up and rapid changes in the working environment have required a change in how we manage performance and capacity, and few employee wellbeing programmes are equipped to holistically respond to employees’ needs, including unlimited trauma and psychosocial support, debt counselling and financial advice.
The KPMG CEO Outlook Survey 2022 points to almost three-quarters of local executives taking steps to future-proof their operations by boosting productivity1. As part of such efforts, employers cannot ignore the preventative value of making these valuable services, confidentially and conveniently, available to their staff to proactively manage related business risks.
When employee wellbeing is properly managed through an integrated process along with employee and healthcare benefits, ensuring the same clinical protocols and guidelines are applied, this will assist to ensure that team members are not only healthier in the long term, but also more engaged and resilient to burnout or to slipping into potentially paralysing depression or anxiety.
Researchers of a US-based survey2 calculated that employees who work from home on average work 1.4 days more per week than their counterparts working in an office environment. Apart from the flexibility, reduced transport time, wellness benefits and their knock on effect when it comes to productivity, it has been suggested3 that depending on the type of work you do the office environment can be less conducive to deep concentration largely due to regular interruptions and background noise.
As social animals, however, human beings gain so much from interacting with others and this extends to group learning and knowledge sharing in surprising ways. Colleagues who have worked together for years often build an intuitive connection – enabling the team to accomplish astonishing feats when needed, and generally getting things done better, more quickly and smoothly.
When we are physically distanced from our colleagues, it is still important to find ways of nurturing interpersonal connections among the team even if hybrid working or meeting in person is not possible. While some employers are saving on property rental and associated office expenses, the significance of ‘water cooler chats’ in forming a cohesive and optimally productive team should not be undervalued.
Opportunities for mingling and getting to know the full person beyond their work persona fosters a sense of unity, making us aware of our colleagues’ skills and capabilities outside of their set role – potentially tapping into extra value and productive benefit for years to come, provided the company can retain these individuals and the institutional knowledge they hold.
This poses a significant business risk for the new world of work that few employers can afford to ignore considering a survey by Yonder4 earlier this year which found that over half of South African respondents were considering seeking new career prospects in the near future.
There are many ways to build staff loyalty, morale and strong workplace bonds, and these need not be expensive or formalised. Colleagues simply chatting outside a strictly work context, even via online meetings, if getting together in person isn’t possible, provides a window to check in on one another. This is becoming more essential than ever in the current mental health pandemic. Asana’s Anatomy of Work5 study found that some 70% of employees surveyed reported experiencing burnout in the previous year.
Agility Corporate offers a Core and a Comprehensive employee wellbeing programme that places the employee as the priority through integrated clinical interventions and best practice counselling methodologies. As experts in healthcare for the past 28 years and being renowned for in-depth research and development, Agility has pioneered the way in which healthcare benefits, employee benefit services and clinical risk management is duly and properly integrated to the benefit of employees and employers. Coupled with our actuarial risk modelling to illustrate monetary outcomes, employers can rest assured that they receive proper productivity outcomes and not a static service that is not being utilised, but paid for. Instead, employees receive a world-class service being driven by globally renowned and integrated technology.
Integrated essential employee wellbeing services together with flexible health cover and financial security as part of a holistic solution with a single point of contact offer enormous value in making the most of any business’s greatest assets. One point of contact further enables insights to be drawn from this data to guide and enhance more targeted wellness initiatives to manage risk better continuously on all fronts.
A team that is greater than the sum of its parts, fully engaged, united, and enabled to be more productive is achievable, whether your workforce is under one roof or scattered around the country. The human touch will always be central to human resources.
Suné Pienaar is a Productivity Expert at Agility Corporate.
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