5 ways that leveraging tech can improve your hybrid EX

HR and business leaders today face a critical challenge: keeping costs down in an uncertain economy without sacrificing a compelling employee experience. One concept helping employers gain ground on that front is the rise of the hybrid workplace.

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In fact, a recent survey from hybrid workforce solution provider Envoy found that 77% of employers polled have adopted permanent hybrid work models.

Gretchen Alarcon, senior vice president and general manager, employee workflows, at cloud-based digital solutions provider ServiceNow, says that as more employers turn to hybrid, technology can play a major role in making that move more successful. Alarcon offers five ways technology can boost the hybrid employee experience while helping keep costs at bay:

Create a central place for employees to access information, communicate and request help: Many organizations have spent the last few years hiring a global, distributed workforce. And even as they welcome many back into the office, employees will still need to collaborate and access company resources virtually throughout the day.

“The challenge that many companies face is the number of disparate systems employees use, a challenge perpetuated by the shift to hybrid work,” explains Alarcon, one of HRE‘s 2022 Top 100 HR Tech Influencers. “This is where technology platforms that connect systems and data from across the enterprise—HR, IT, etc.—can improve the status quo by providing a central place for employees to access information, request help and find company communications.”

She cautions that these platforms must integrate with collaboration tools, such as Microsoft Teams, to meet employees where they’re already working.

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Make it easy for hybrid employees to plan a productive visit to the office: According to Alarcon, employers managing hybrid teams need to consider how the workplace is designed and how technology can help make the in-office experience efficient and productive, especially if their employees aren’t there every day. For example, she says, technology can help employees make desk and room reservations, navigate an office floorplan (think Google Maps for the office), and can make it easy to attach a technology, catering or room configuration request to a reservation.

Gretchen Alarcon, ServiceNow
Gretchen Alarcon

“Employees should also be able to use technology to see which team members are going into the office and where they’re sitting so they can reserve desks nearby,” she says, adding that there’s potential for technology to become even more sophisticated with AI-powered recommendations and proactive prompts. In the case of two colleagues who regularly go into the office every Tuesday, for example, AI can suggest they set up a 1:1, schedule a coffee meeting or book desks by one another to promote collaboration, she says.

See also: Proximity matters at work. What does that mean for the future of remote work?

Understand and design offices based on employees’ needs and habits: As the role of the workplace evolves, companies need to understand utilization: When are employees going into an office, for what and what facilities are they using?

“They can do this with badging, sensors and reservation technology,” Alarcon says. “Leaders can use this data to create customized employee experiences.”

For example, she says, if HR is seeing that a majority of employees are badging in on Wednesdays, they can recommend setting up town hall meetings on that day. The information can also be used to inform real estate decisions, floor plans, cleaning schedules, resource allocation and more, she says.

Deliver learning, development and growth opportunities in the flow of work: According to Alarcon, both HR and line of business leaders need to create equitable learning, development and growth opportunities for employees, regardless of where they work.

“Technology alone can’t solve the problem, but it can absolutely help,” she says, adding that AI-powered skills intelligence can match employees to projects based on skills, instead of who they know, how well they network or where they work. In the same vein, AI and automation can deliver learning opportunities directly in an employee’s flow of work to help them upskill with relevant, contextual learning based on their interests and needs.

“All of this helps provide equal visibility and access to work and development opportunities, creating better connection, collaboration, inclusion and engagement,” Alarcon says.

Prioritize managers as their role becomes even more complex and they manage distributed teams: Finally, Alarcon says, managers have some of the hardest jobs right now. They’re likely managing people across the country, if not around the world.

Organizations must put technologies in place to help managers keep teams connected, engaged and supported, from anywhere. Technology also can help managers facilitate continuous learning and development for themselves and their teams, as well as understand team performance and goals, and quickly find information and policies that are local and relevant to their teams.

“Managers have a direct impact on productivity, engagement, retention and business growth,” Alarcon says. “With that, they need better tools to support their people.”

Learn how benefits leaders are leveraging tech to drive their hybrid strategies during the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference, May 3-5 in Las Vegas. Click here to register.

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