The recent disruptions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic have provided unprecedented challenges for many businesses, with millions of employees forced to work remotely or spend less time in the office, adopting a hybrid style of working.
This has led to a workforce of overwhelmed employees, which is undermining their productivity and contributing to lower employee engagement.
Because of this, organizations need to be thinking about adapting their workplace to support collaboration and thinking about how they can enable different departments to work better together amidst this new hybrid working style.
In this guide, we’re going to take a look at six ways that management teams can simplify the complicated world of work right now to better support their teams and future-proof their workplace.
1. Make simplification a business priority
First and foremost, you need to make simplification a priority in your business. Rather than departmentalizing problems and blaming them on, say, HR teams, operational issues, sales teams, etc., this needs to be a wider business goal.
As such, simplification should be regarded as a vital strategy in which the outcome must positively impact both the company-wide goals and ROI.
Once the idea of simplification is engrained in the overall business strategy, this makes it much easier to identify complicated processes and implement real change.
2. Adopt agile and flexible working practices
Agile and flexible working doesn’t just mean being allowed to work from home. It also means that organizations must offer maximum flexibility with minimum constraints, allowing employees to choose where, when, and how they work to optimize their productivity and performance.
In order to adopt an agile approach and transform your workplace, you need to consider the following:
- If you have the right infrastructure to cope with remote working
- If your policies and practices enable agile working
- If you provide the right tools for your workforce to do their roles and collaborate effectively
- If you need to implement any physical changes to the workplace
Once you’ve considered all of the above, you can implement new processes that will allow employees to choose and adapt their working style to better suit their circumstances and preferred ways of working.
This can help to make their jobs a lot less complicated. As a business, what you need to do is to make sure you’ve got the right tools and infrastructure in place to make this hybrid style seamless and less complex (more on this in the next section).
What’s more, the successful implementation of these simpler processes requires clear communication to ensure employees are happy. Therefore, you need to put together simple and coherent content/literature to explain any of these new changes or processes.
3. Understand your employees
One of the most important ways to simplify the world of work is to fully understand your employees and find out from them where the real problems lie. If you’re able to get to the root of the confusion and complexity, you can get systems in place to combat this.
In order to do this, management needs to speak to their teams to identify the processes which are the most time-consuming, frustrating, or cumbersome to employees. There are several ways this can be done through:
- Skillful questioning in one-to-ones
- Team meetings
- Pulse and employee engagement surveys
By getting to grips with these processes, organizations can get a better idea of their strengths and weaknesses and get a plan in place to make positive changes for the future.
4. Embrace digital transformation
Although it might feel like transitioning to a digital workplace is going to make things more complicated, the concept behind digital transformation is to support people to do their jobs more effectively. Therefore, your digital transformation must be in service of your people in order to succeed, rather than leaving them in the service of technology.
To make things simpler and to accurately align your processes with your employee’s changing working styles, you should:
- Enable employees to work with more transparency and better leverage over social networks and collaboration platforms
- Unify offline and online communications and help employees to stay connected through their mobile devices, laptops, and cloud-based systems
- Set up and support virtual work environments that allow employees to collaborate and work asynchronously not matter where they are
Embracing digital transformation in this way not only simplifies existing processes but can help to make hybrid working styles more seamless in the future. More on these digital tools in the next section.
5. Provide the tools to work from anywhere
In order to simplify the working world, organizations must provide employees with all the tools they need to be able to work from anywhere. This stops further confusion in terms of trying to coordinate those who are in office and those who aren’t. It allows them to collaborate in real-time where needed.
Some of the most important tools that organizations may need to invest in to do this include:
- Cloud-based business networks or databases
- Office speakerphones
- Video conferencing tools
- Wireless and noise-canceling headsets
- Virtual whiteboards
- Collaboration platforms
6. Know when to keep it simple
In most cases, managers need to flex a certain amount of common sense and remember, employees no longer need to be together to cooperate.
For example, as we embrace the new hybrid ways of working, could something be done through a quick phone or video conference call rather than an in-person meeting?
Or, rather than requiring long reports and hours spent liaising about ideas in a meeting room, could online collaboration platforms make it much quicker, easier, and more cost-effective for employees to work together on a project?
By freeing up time and making the most of these smart digital tools, employees can better manage their workload and collaborate more effectively on their own terms. This can make their working day feel much calmer, simpler and make them feel more in control.