Hybrid working looks set to be the new norm for many workers, as companies adjust to life after the pandemic.
While many employees have been pleased with the ability to work remotely, there are concerns about what the hybrid working environment will look like.
To get a better picture of the worries of business leaders, consulting company Actual Experience spoke in June and July 2021 to 300 CEOs, CIOs, and CHROs across Europe who manage companies with over 10,000 employees.
The results are illuminating, and demonstrate growing concerns about hybrid working inequality in workplaces.
67% of those surveyed said they were increasingly concerned about the impact of digital inequality, in terms of the online services staff have access to as hybrid working becomes commonplace.
On top of that 24% claimed that their company is not effective at understanding the digital requirements of employees, and the same percentage said they were “not very” or “not at all” effective in understanding the link between digital tools and employee wellbeing.
Hybrid working challenges
This data shows concerns about technology and employee satisfaction. This is unsurprising given the high numbers of women and people of color who have not returned to the workforce as the “Great Resignation” continues. On the back of this situation, Slack has found that white males would dominate the post-pandemic office in terms of number, thereby significantly setting back diversity, equity, and inclusion progress.
There have also been worries about employee wellbeing; workplace wellbeing applications are booming in the pandemic, and engagement tools are being increasingly used in an effort to improve the employee experience.
Dave Page, CEO of Actual Experience, comments on the report: “These findings unveil some worrying signs in terms of business preparedness for the long-term implementation of hybrid working.
“With a permanent shift toward hybrid working now upon us, businesses need to move fast to limit the potential damage caused by digital inequality amongst staff.
“The role of the CHRO has been rising in prominence for several years, but the pandemic has thrust the role firmly to the forefront. It will inevitably come down to those in this role to help businesses navigate these upcoming difficulties.
“The transition to new ways of working is the greatest management challenge that companies have faced in decades, and the challenge and opportunity is too great for any one business leader.
“In our survey, 65% of our respondents say that there is no single executive who owns the future workplace in their organization, as the topic is too big.
“There is a new topology in leadership teams, and they must collaborate and connect in different ways from before. The ownership of who does what in this model is still uncertain, but it does seem clear that the CHRO sits at the center and should take ownership of new ways of working.”
With calls for remote working management and the ownership of tools, many companies may begin to consider hiring a head of remote working to tackle fears surrounding hybrid working.