Head of UK, Slack
The workplace is changing, so people must have the right culture and tools as well as support to work from anywhere.
Business leaders must take employee experience to the next level to benefit from the new post-pandemic trend of hybrid working.
This means creating a culture that boosts employee wellbeing and providing workers with the right tools to be productive at home and in the new-look office environment.
Stuart Templeton, Head of UK at the business messaging app which organises conversations into channels, Slack, says things have changed forever and organisations must think of employees as individuals.
“Managers must take time to connect with people and be more aware of their physical and mental health,” he says. “Many of us will want a hybrid working model in future. There are also strong financial reasons for businesses to support this trend.”
Templeton cites recent statistics from Slack’s consortium, Future Forum, revealing a flexible, hybrid working model remains the favoured choice among employees.
63% of knowledge workers favour the flexibility of a hybrid remote-office model and 20% want to work remotely full-time. Only 12% say they want to return to full-time office work.
The study also claims 43% of employees who have flexibility in where they work are more productive. With the right support, they can also experience lower levels of stress and anxiety.
Changing company culture
One example of a company already reacting to a desire among its employees to work more flexibly is Octopus Energy.
It promotes an open culture and uses tools such as Slack and Zoom to let employees communicate with other team members directly, from colleagues to senior leaders and even the company’s CEO Greg Jackson. Since the pandemic started, Octopus have expanded the way they use these tools. For example, Octopus hosts a virtual get-together every Friday afternoon with the entire company, which already has more than 1,200 staff members globally.
Templeton says the culture of many companies has had to change with people more focused on business outcomes than the hours they work.
“Culture is now all about delivery and a strong alignment with, and clarity around, company objectives. These need to trickle down in an open and transparent way to teams and individuals,” he says. “The ‘command and control’ leadership style won’t work in a hybrid world where the management approach must be built on trust.”
Managers must take time to connect with people and be more aware of their physical and mental health.
He adds that giving workers the right tools and technology to do their job effectively from anywhere will boost collaboration and avoid silos. Such tools like Slack also allow for emoji custom statuses, such as the lunch symbol, so that an employee’s time can be respected when signifying to their team how quickly they can respond to messages or if they are available.
Such tools like Slack also allow for emoji custom statuses, such as the lunch symbol, so that an employee’s time can be respected when signifying to their team how quickly they can respond to messages or if they are available.
When it comes to the physical office, the emphasis will be on creating spaces with fewer desks where people can collaborate and get quality work done.
“There will still be times when you need to meet physically as many people thrive around human connection at work. The hybrid approach enables this and lets companies widen their talent pool nationally and internationally.”
Avoiding proximity bias
Templeton does warn employers against what he describes as ‘proximity bias’. This is where people can be overlooked because they are not in the physical office when meetings take place or key decisions are made.
“Before the pandemic there was a sense of expectation that if you wanted to be part of a project team you had to be in the office,” he says. “We all need to be careful not to inherently slip into proximity bias. There is evidence that people can be more productive and still part of a team with a hybrid working model and with the right tools at their fingertips.”
Rethinking employee experience: The business dos and don’ts