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The Ongoing Pursuit for Digital Business Talent

Across the globe, many employers are assessing their human resource policies to determine the most effective working model for their digital workers. While some CEOs still attempt to force employees to work full-time in offices, the enlightened leaders have embraced flexibility.

According to the latest market study by Gartner, 77 percent of digital business workers want to participate in creating their Hybrid Work model, while 14 percent prefer to have their environment mandated.

"One of the biggest challenges to hybrid work is the lack of alignment between the variability between what workers want and the predictability organizations, managers and workers need to be effective,” said Caitlin Duffy, director analyst at Gartner.

Hybrid Work Market Development

As employee wants and needs have shifted toward flexible working models, organizations must respond thoughtfully in order to maintain productivity and avoid attrition from oppressive mandates.

Their fifth 'Digital Worker Experience' survey was conducted among 4,861 full-time employees that use digital technology for work purposes in the U.S., UK, India and China markets.

Forty-seven percent of digital workers shared that they preferred to spend the highest percentage of time in virtual meetings, with audio and/or video, and the lowest percentage of time in hybrid meetings.

Survey respondents ranked hybrid meetings as second-least productive (17 percent), with audio-only meetings least, and in-person meetings as the most productive (46 percent).

Digital workplace leaders can facilitate productivity, and improve user experience, during hybrid meetings by ensuring all participants can see and hear everyone clearly; interact with in-meeting content sharing and conversation; join the meeting with only one button or link; and seamlessly move across operating systems and devices.

"In addition to improving hybrid meetings, leaders and managers should assess the meeting culture in their organization and ensure an intentional mix of asynchronous and synchronous work," said Duffy.

Some organizations have implemented employee productivity monitoring as a means to understand what workers are doing in a less visible hybrid work environment.

When utilized due to mistrust, Employee Monitoring systems seek to determine if employees are active on devices and in applications, or whether employees are attending the office as mandated.

At the highest level of trust, employee monitoring efforts help managers see which employees are most productive and why, or whether business outcomes are being met. In this scenario, 96 percent of employees are more willing to accept monitoring if it leads to assistance that benefits them.

  • One-third of digital workers would accept monitoring in exchange for support in finding information or data to do their job.
  • Thirty percent of digital workers would accept monitoring in exchange for proactive outreach from support.
  • Twenty-eight percent of digital workers would accept monitoring in exchange for streamlining information and notifications as well as getting advice on performance improvement.

"Progressive organizations are pursuing radical transparency around when data is being collected, what data is collected, how long it’s kept, who has access to it, and for what purpose it is being collected," said Tori Paulman, senior director analyst at Gartner. "This includes giving employees an opportunity to opt-in to information and data gathering."

Outlook for Flexible Working Apps Growth

According to the Gartner assessment, as the workplace continues to evolve so does the employee experience. Increasingly, human resources (HR) leaders will need to partner with digital workplace leaders to ensure they are crafting the desired Digital Employee Experience (DEX).

That said, I anticipate more organizations will eventually adopt fully-remote working options, because they're easier for the HR team to manage over time. However, some legacy middle managers will need training and coaching on how to hire and support remote digital workers.

Meanwhile, oppressive Return-to-Office mandates will continue to drive away skilled high-performance employees that have options, and can easily find new roles at progressive employers. Therefore, work flexibility remains a key competitive advantage when seeking to hire and retain digital business talent. 

Besides, clumsy employee monitoring efforts are unwise. You either trust your employees, or you don't. That fact should be obvious to everyone but the most inept leaders from a bygone era.

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