How to accommodate the different needs of today’s dynamic workforce
Insights from NHS England, RNIB, Saint-Gobain and Hitachi Capital
Download our latest Blue Door Insights document: ‘Opportunities through disruption: boosting productivity in times of change’.
In March 2021 we published ‘Creating a dynamic workforce’, a major study that demonstrated how the needs and expectations of employees have dramatically changed since the global pandemic. The study identified three broad employee types, with seven distinct personas, each with their own preferences about where, how and when they want to work, as well as what they now expect from their work and career.
- Office Cravers – People who enjoy life in the office and look forward to making it their main place of work again. They’re aching to be back in the office permanently.
- Mixers – People who miss some aspects of office life, like socialising with colleagues, but also appreciate the freedom to work remotely. They want to work in the office, from home and elsewhere.
- Home Dwellers – People who want to work remotely on a permanent basis. They’re keen to retain the control they have gained over balancing work, personal interests/hobbies and family life.
With varied preferences to accommodate, businesses of all sizes are asking how they must adapt to meet the different needs of individuals. So we asked four of our customers across a variety of industry verticals (covering public, private and charity sectors) what they were doing to consider the different persona needs within their ranks. A summary of responses is provided below, but you can also download the full insights from our latest Blue Door Insights document: ‘Opportunities through disruption: boosting productivity in times of change’
What do people’s current preferences mean for your workplace?
“We see the hybrid middle zone (the Mixers) actually as different activities and priorities. For example, hybrid workers may want to stay at home to send emails but come in to the office for meetings. We’ve started the conversation about these personas and recognise that people may migrate between them throughout their career or even on a day-by-day basis. So we’re using personas to help us plan at an organisational, rather than personal, level.”
“Some people like the segmentation that the office provides between work and home life. Those with children appreciate the flexibility of working from home. But there are times when the boundary between work and home life gets blurred. It’s nice not to have to commute. But that time can get taken up with work instead. For anyone who lives a long way from the office, working from home has saved a lot of time. But for the Office Cravers group, it might just be that expectations need to be re-set. Was it the office they remember or the social side of things?”
“I think for the first time we’ve properly listened to our staff and had a much deeper interaction with them. We’ve put a lot more into training and development. The shift to working from home has allowed us to spend more quality time on things. Rather than rushing from one geographical location to another.”
“Some are drawn to the Planner persona, while others lean more towards working in the office than at home. But that office could be a branch rather than HQ. It really depends on your role. For example, as a leader, you often need to be close to your team. You need to get that face-to- face time and body language feedback. For those who have joined since the start of the pandemic it has been hard. Being in an office is better for learning the culture and operational side of the organisation.”
How can you balance what’s right for people and for business?
Balancing individual and organisational needs will be crucial to deliver a productive organisation. And if businesses continue to support their people to work anywhere, the technology must be in place to enable them to do so.
“We’re giving employees a choice about their base and this needs collaboration between departments to make sure there’s a balance. We’ve looked at how we can support better wifi in people’s homes. We’ve also shifted to cloud-based collaboration using Microsoft Teams and Miro among other tools. We’ve tried to ensure devices are easy to use and appropriate.
All of our laptops have built-in remote access so people can get into corporate systems as if they were in the office. We see this as our corporate responsibility.”
“What is more complex is the type of flexibility that people want. For example, the company might still determine office days versus work from home days. But we’re actively exploring systems to help operationalise this. Like how do you know you’ll have a desk or a parking space and that the colleagues you need will be there too?
One big area of focus has been how to create collaboration opportunities, especially face-to-face. It’s easy to establish discrete mini ‘social bubbles’ at an individual team level, but harder to extend that sense of belonging to the wider community. This is the challenge for maintaining a company culture without being face-to-face.”
“Feedback proves that people feel more connected and engaged with the organisation despite remote working. They have made a proactive and more intentional effort, while resources and new ideas have kept teams engaged.
As an organisation, we’ve also felt more equal on Microsoft Teams. Especially for visually-impaired colleagues. It has equalised the meeting process in terms of ‘reading the room’ and also equalised regions.”
“We surveyed employees to understand how they would like to work. Employees who said they need to be in all the time will be given a set desk. Employees who want a hybrid set-up also have guidance on when they can come in.
Some office leases have not been renewed. We’ve restructured a building that was retained to better suit hybrid working. It has a handful of meeting rooms, pod spaces for collaboration and no more offices for the exec team.”
What steps are you taking?
We get that every business is different. In many cases, it’s as simple as listening to the diverse needs of your people. Then responding with ways to help them do their jobs that fit with how, when and where they can be most productive. And aligning this with the organisational culture and how the business can be most effective in the future.
You can learn more about how these four organisations are adapting to accommodate the competing demands of a dynamic workforce in our newly published report:
Our market research analysis on The Future of Work:
You can also download our whitepapers on the three core areas to enable a dynamic workforce:
- People: Freedom, flexibility and fulfilment: Re-imaging work in the age of the dynamic workforce
- Places: Talent, tools and space: New workplace strategies for a dynamic working world
- Technology: AI, automation and collaboration: Why tomorrow’s talent is human + digital
We discuss the future of work in Episode 23 of the Blue Door Podcast.