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With remote working at the forefront of most business models for 2022, providing your employees with everything they need to be productive, including a healthy work environment, is crucial. We’ve banged on plenty of times about the benefits of agile working, but if you really want to bolster your competitive edge, you must nail your employee experience/EX.

Your people are your greatest asset – and when teams are well looked after, your business will look after you… financially and figuratively; but office culture is not about bean bags, ping-pong tables and a bottomless snack drawer in the office kitchen – it’s about making your employees feel heard.

Over the last 24 months we have established that introducing flexibility into an organisation’s structure is brilliant for keeping up the work momentum. For the first time, employees can have more control over their schedules; they’re able to maintain a better work life balance, can skip the mind-numbing commutes in favour of having breakfast with their families, and ultimately work from anywhere, anytime – because they’re trusted to do so.

That level of trust makes them feel valued. And when employees feel valued, they hang around for a while.

Whilst workspaces are still key for team collaboration, moulding a positive work culture and providing effective training, businesses still need to keep the option for remote working widely open, because that is exactly what both old and new talent want out of their employers.

So how can business leaders strike that sweet hybrid balance between remote and physical collaboration, whilst ensuring their workers feel fully supported? Here’s a breakdown of the key things to consider first.

Talk it out

Everyone in the world right now will experience today completely differently. Whilst some are keen to work in an office environment, others would rather be based remotely. As a leader, you cannot take this lightly – and it is your responsibility to make sure your teams feel safe when they’re in the office. Take the time to talk to your guys about how they see themselves working in the long-term, and whether they feel comfortable being in a physical work environment. The fact that you’re giving them the opportunity to feel heard is an extremely valuable key for maintaining great employee experience.

So, why come in at all?

It’s easy to forget how powerful physical meetings can be. Organisations now recognise that regularly getting teams together is crucial for enabling face-to-face interaction and rebuilding the morale many have lost over the last two years. Do not underestimate the importance of providing regular opportunities to bring old and new members together in a safe place.

A trip into a physical office that is inviting, offers space for collaboration and provides employees with the right tools can be a refreshing alternative for remote workers. That’s why we have adopted a modern outlook for our offices and created spaces that are free from the old-fashioned rows and rows of desks and replaced them with open, comfortable work ‘hubs’.

Assuming is losing

 Don’t assume that remote working is everyone’s preferred way of working. Whilst some find the idea of being in their own space to work extremely appealing – others find it isolating. One person’s home situation is extremely different to the next – so you need to be understanding and adapt accordingly based on their specific needs. If they feel happier in the office, let them.

Set-up for success

Replicating the office at home is easy, thanks to collaboration platforms, such as Microsoft Teams, becoming more advanced than ever. You can create the next best thing to face-to-face meetings at the click of a button but having the right tools can significantly help to harness this power: a HD webcam, high-quality headphones and larger screens are no-brainers. Take the time to ensure their set up is in a healthy working space.

You also want to make sure they can access important data, files and documents from anywhere. Storing everything in the cloud enables colleagues to work on the move, with no restrictions or logistical nonsense to get in the way.

Your workers’ wellbeing matters

We have proved that people can be just as productive when in their home environment – if not more. But when it comes to maintaining a balanced work/life approach, there are two types of home workers.

There are those who feel significantly less knackered from the daily commute, who can easily switch off once another workday is complete, and who have an all-round better social life. Then there are those who are mentally exhausted from not being able to switch off, who can’t separate their home from their office and who’s lunch breaks merge into Teams calls on the kitchen table.

Setting barriers is the obvious solution here, but also being open to new creative ways of doing things. Ultimately, your workers need to be creative with their approaches to working – whether it’s going out for regular walks or starting earlier so that they can finish earlier to tend to family needs. But you need to let them do that by creating a culture that is fully accepting of different preferences. Trust is key.

The future of remote working

Remote working has levelled the playing field. Now that new talent doesn’t have to be linked to the office, you can acquire new members from anywhere – expanding your team horizons to all over the country. When done correctly, working on a hybrid model is extremely desirable for the very best talent and they want to be part of an organisation who will enable them to be located remotely. Simply put, flexible localities are the future.