The new work environment requires a thoughtful reappraisal of how best to support your team and maintain company culture. Here is what to consider.

by Peter McGarahan
Date Published September 27, 2022 - Last Updated January 20, 2023

This month, we're featuring the contributions of the 2022 HDI Thought Leaders and Featured Contributors. These leaders in the IT service and support industry regularly take time out to share knowledge to help their peers succeed. Peter McGarahan shares with us a wealth of knowledge and perspective about the IT industry. Here, he discusses the new normal.

As we begin to return to whatever the new normal will be, hybrid work will challenge leaders to do what’s right by our employees, our customers, and our company. Simultaneously, we are confronting additional challenges beyond our control in dealing with inflation and the high cost of living, the demand for workers and their rising wages, and the various family complexities and mental health issues in this new work landscape.

In a recent article entitled “Workplaces are in Denial Over How Much Americans Have Changed,” the author Alvin Chang discusses the realities and disconnects between employers and employees as they prepare to return to work in the office. Most everyone is acknowledging the change and challenges; they’re willing to be flexible with hybrid or remote work and agree that adjustments are required on both sides to determine the new normal.

We must think through various options based on well-defined personas that provide thought and consideration to the following:

  • An employee’s family situation
  • Living location and commute time
  • Rising costs due to inflationary pressures
  • Job type and work required
  • Tenure within the organization and current role
  • The employee’s current mental health

To be successful, we must understand:

  • What is important and relevant to our team members
  • Where we were prior to the pandemic, our current situation, and where we need to go now
  • The challenges and complexities of working in a hybrid environment
  • All aspects of the new working model to help our team members to consider and select the right options and opportunities that best define their current and future work alternatives

This is a great opportunity to partner with Human Resources and fully engage your team members. Communicate how your company culture will be the basis for establishing plans and a path for how employees will define their future working environment.

I recommend creating a hybrid work mode profile assessment that would provide the employee the opportunity to share their current and future working situations. The survey results would then be programmed to determine the best options available to them in selecting the right hybrid options available for them given their profile.

Additionally, we need to look at our current office space and ask the question, “Is this an office/workspace that will motivate our team members to come back and work, collaborate and socialize in its current state?” At this moment in time, given the complexities and challenges our employees are facing, providing them with the opportunity to return to work in a modern workplace will be considered an investment that will return many benefits to you, your team, and your company.

We recently opened our modern workplace to IT employees after a year of planning, designing, deconstruction, and reconstruction. We equipped our workplace with bookable/reservable workplaces, meeting rooms, ideation rooms, collaboration rooms, an innovation lab, new break/dining and game rooms and a library. The feedback and reactions have been awesome, as everyone appreciated the simplicity and relevancy in the design and thoughtfulness of the design. They said it would have a significant impact on their ability to productively collaborate with their peers and partners. Our HR recruiters are extremely excited about our design, and see it as an advantage in recruiting new talent in a very competitive marketplace.

It’s important to map your workplace to the company culture and organizational strategy while using it to address people’s concerns, fears, and anxiety. It’s not as simple as just booking a workspace on a floor plan via a Booking and Reservation app. It’s fluid, dynamic, and agile and should spur excitement and passion in challenging you to discover the art of what’s possible.

In summary, based on certain criteria on how companies define their hybrid return-to-office strategy, how and where we work will be something that will be irregular and unpredictable. Service leaders must expand their scope to address guidance for returning to work. The opportunity for a successful transition relies on your ability to understand your team members’ current challenges and correctly map them to the various hybrid opportunities best suited for their current situation.

Pete McGarahan is the senior director of end users support for First American, as well as an industry expert and thought leader in global ITSM.
Tag(s): communications skills, communications technology, supportworld


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