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    How Remote Work Can Foster Inclusion and Psychological Safety

    People success platform leader Glint, part of LinkedIn, has published results on workplace culture that show that remote work is creating more inclusive and psychologically safe workplace experiences. The company’s Head of EMEA People Science tells us more.
    Our global pandemic-initiated shift to remote work has had many consequences, but one that isn’t called out as much as it should be is equality. In many ways, remote work has equalized opportunities for employees to be heard and seen. In a virtual work environment, every meeting looks the same, and each person takes up the same space on the screen, from the CEO to the intern.
    Virtual work bolsters inclusivity
    Glint has tracked a range of metrics about our changing workplace over the past year. Their latest trends report notes that employers that have committed to supporting remote work appear to be creating more inclusive and psychologically safe work experiences as a result. In companies that support remote working, workers feel freer to speak their minds and see their companies as valuing diversity.
    The analysis used a number of measures to derive its conclusions, including how many remote work-permitted job postings an employer puts on LinkedIn (over 275,000 adverts were surveyed from 375 organizations). Millions of Glint survey responses from over 600 organizations were also fed into the model. The analysis shows that employees at remote work-friendly firms were 14% more likely to feel safe speaking their minds. 9% are more likely to report that their leaders value different perspectives, compared to their peers in less remote work-friendly brands.
    The study shows that virtual work creates many features that can bolster employees’ feelings of inclusivity. Virtual work can provide flexibility to people with caregiving responsibilities, bypass location bias, and reduce the amount of time and energy required to conform to potentially unhelpful ‘professionalism’ standards, for instance.
    As organizations re-examine how to foster diversity, inclusion, and belonging in the new world of work, early signs indicate they’d do well to build on virtual work and expand habits, programs, and tools that help people bring their authentic selves to work.
    Culture in the new world of work
    This matters, as the survey also highlights the fact that what team members see as defining a great work culture has changed dramatically over the first year of the Covid pandemic—50% of the top 10 drivers in 2020 were not in the top 10 in 2019. Opportunities to learn and grow have emerged as the strongest drivers of work culture, shooting up eight positions.
    In the first half of 2020, employees’ sense of belonging also started to impact employee happiness, increasing by 12% to become the second most important characteristic people look for to describe a great work culture. That’s one of the ways in which work culture has changed drastically in 2020. Work culture was once shaped heavily by in-person interactions—coffee breaks, shared meals, team retreats, and the like. But when the pandemic not only stripped away physical interaction but also threatened our safety, the less tangible drivers of work culture—growth opportunities, belonging, and values—became more important to employees.
    There’s also a positive uplift here for recruitment and retention, as the research shows that employees at organizations with highly rated cultures are 31% more likely to recommend working there to peers and contacts, and 15% more likely to report being happy working there.
    Employees want more from their employers now than just a pay packet. They want to be challenged, and they want to work in a space where they can bring their whole selves.
    By Steven Buck, Head of EMEA People Science at Glint.
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    Will Unlimited Annual Leave Become the New Business Normal?

    Increased productivity, heightened workplace morale, and more competitive benefits packages – these are some of the positive impacts that companies have reported since implementing the ‘unlimited holiday’ scheme.
    This new take on holiday allowance first started to grow within US-based tech start-ups as a way to stand out from their larger competitors but has since been embraced by larger brands – including Netflix and LinkedIn. As a testament to how much the scheme has grown, a recent job board report showed that positions offering the scheme had increased by 20% over the last year.
    How does the scheme work, and will it benefit the business and employee equally?
    There is no rule book for the unlimited holidays offering, and each business has tailored the value proposition differently around the levels of flexibility they’re able to offer their employees – some with success, and others with less so.
    A well-known success story of the Scheme is Roku, a TV Streaming app company based in the US, who no longer offer an official holiday allowance to their staff, but instead promotes the ethos that if your allocated work is completed you can take as much time off you like. The positive result of this can be seen in their 72% net promoter score – with impressive marks given for work/life balance.
    The scheme was less successful, however, for CharlieHR – a software company founded in 2015. Their COO Ben Gately explained in an interview that implementing unlimited holidays created anxiety within the workplace, causing the employees to take less annual leave than when they were given the standard 25 days.
    Although this scheme has mainly been seen within companies founded in the United States, it’s started to move across the pond over recent years. Warren Butler, Marketing Director of the UK-based Microsoft Dynamics Partner, Preact, had the following comments on how the scheme has benefitted their business:
    “We recently implemented the concept of unlimited holidays within our growing team to demonstrate the trust we have in our employees, which they had more than earned since suddenly having to work remotely due to the pandemic. It’s proven fantastic for business morale and applicants for new roles have doubled since we started promoting the benefit on our job specs.”
    Preact is one of the many growing UK-based companies that have adjusted their holiday scheme in this way and seen a positive effect on their employee’s wellbeing. Although the approach isn’t effective within all organizations, these types of flexible benefits will become increasingly necessary to remain competitive within the employment market.
    How to assess if the scheme will work for your business
    If you’re trying to implement new employee benefits within your business and you’re considering the unlimited holiday scheme, here are a few different ways companies have pushed out the offering within their businesses:

    Buy Your Holiday: The most common use of the scheme is allowing employees to purchase extra holiday days by taking a cut in their wages. This can, however, cause resentment within teams if people are in different positions financially.
    Ultimate Flexible Working: This is the scheme that Roku has implemented within their business and has worked well for their employees. For this to be successful within your organization, it’s important to monitor people’s workloads to ensure the scheme is fair.
    Commission Based: This can be a great way to incentivize teams within a business and push productivity, this version of the scheme would have to sit on top of the existing annual holiday allowance.

    Whichever way you intend to push the scheme within your business, it’s essential that you communicate it throughout the workforce on an ongoing basis and monitor productivity alongside holidays taken.
    By Lauren Fowles of Preact.
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    How Employers Can Maximize Engagement and Productivity for a Hybrid Workforce

    Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, non-essential employees across the U.S. have adjusted to working from home on a full-time basis. As companies plan for an eventual return to “normalcy,” many are navigating how to reintroduce their workforce to an office setting. However, the pandemic has seemingly demystified working from home, and many organizations are turning to a new hybrid model that combines remote work and office collaboration.
    In fact, Global Workplace Analytics estimates that 56% of U.S. workers have jobs that enable them to work from home at least part of the time, and between 25% and 30% of the workforce will continue to work remotely multiple days per week when this year reaches its end. Hybrid work models – and a hybrid workforce – are here to stay. As such, it is more critical than ever before that companies invest in the wellness of their workforce and consider methods to retain and engage employees in this new paradigm. Employers need to provide the hybrid workforce with the proper tools and methods required to achieve sustained productivity and engagement, regardless of where they work.
    Physical Implications of an Employee’s Remote Workplace
    The impact of an employee’s workstation on his or her physical health is no secret; physical therapists are experiencing a surge of patients complaining about head, neck, shoulder, and back pain linked to ergonomically unsound home office setups – and in one survey, 92 percent of chiropractors said that patients are reporting more neck pain, back pain or other musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) since the COVID-19 stay-at-home guidance first began last year – and this is only expected to increase over the next 12 to 18 months. Considering the average cost of an individual ergonomic claim in the U.S. is approximately $17,000, the health of the hybrid employee is posed to be a major issue for all businesses moving forward.
    Providing Employees with Effective Workplace Tools
    Though there are both health and cost-savings benefits associated with the appropriate remote workstation, most employers are unfortunately not doing enough to ensure their workforce is provided with the proper workstation tools. Effective tools to promote remote employee productivity and efficiency include reliable internet and intranet connectivity, a height-adjustable workstation, a second desktop display, and monitor arm for the display, and an ergonomically sound office chair. To achieve maximum value out of this investment, it’s imperative to train employees on proper use for the different components within their workstation. For example, as many as 93% of employees that have access to a height-adjustable workstation do not use them effectively – and simply providing employees with a stipend and directing them to a catalog to “pick out what they think they need” is not sufficient.
    Powering Employee Productivity Through Engagement Tools
    An incredibly effective way to leverage an employee’s workstation and encourage a workforce to use the workstations effectively is through a gamification strategy. Leveraging a gamification strategy is the process of taking something that already exists – such as a software application – and using gaming techniques, or gamification, to motivate consistent participation and long-term engagement. Gamification is increasingly leveraged within organizations in search of new ways to engage, teach, reward, and retain employees. Leveraging health and productivity challenges, for example, employees can work to reduce sedentary behavior and improve posture – keeping their workforce, healthy and engaged by being part of a team working towards a common goal – both in-office and at home This will lead to an overall increase in productivity.
    By Mike Kind, StanData CEO. 
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    4 Tips for Turning a Job Rejection Into Career Success

    Have you ever applied for a job but weren’t hired? Few people could answer “no” to this question. In fact, our unsuccessful job applications shape our careers just as much as our successes do, as anyone who has ever experienced a job rejection would have a different work history leading up to their present role had the outcome of their initial application been different.
    The job market is more volatile than it has been in years, and spiking unemployment rates fueled by a global pandemic have turned the candidate’s market of the past few years into an employer’s market. As businesses slowly begin to reopen, some industries are seeing candidates apply to jobs in record numbers, and since most of these positions will be filled by only one candidate, all other applicants will be rejected.
    The fact that most job seekers will apply to several open positions before landing an offer shouldn’t discourage them. Though job rejections are never easy, they are a necessary part of the job search process and can become opportunities for learning, growth, and long-term career success. Let’s look at a few ways candidates can use a job rejection to their advantage.
    Ask for Feedback
    The best way to improve at anything is to request constructive criticism and advice for improvement from those who are more knowledgeable, and for job seekers, feedback from employers after a rejection can be invaluable. By contacting a hiring manager shortly after receiving a rejection, candidates can glean valuable information on how to improve their interviewing and self-promotion skills, as well as where their experience and qualifications may fall short for their desired role. In addition, they demonstrate their willingness to seek out criticism in order to learn and better themselves, while reiterating their interest in future roles with the company. Though some employers may be reluctant to share feedback due to legal liability, a follow-up feedback request provides candidates one last opportunity to make a positive impression.
    Research Successful Employees
    After a job seeker’s application for employment is declined, he or she should make an effort to find out who was selected. Though it may take some time, the person who was hired will likely update his or her LinkedIn profile to reflect the new role, enabling them to be found in a subsequent search by title and employer. Also, there may be other employees at the company with the same title, or at other companies with similar titles and job duties. Candidates should study their profiles and identify what knowledge, skills, and experience these employees possess that they lack. They may also choose to connect with these individuals in order to learn from them, network with them, and convey interest in locating and applying to similar roles.
    Develop a Plan
    Once job seekers are able to identify the qualifications and experience that have made others successful in their desired role, they can formulate a plan. What steps should be taken in order to accomplish the same, and what is the timeline for each? This may be easier said than done. If those who are successful have an advanced degree, certification, or a specific number of years’ experience, the goal becomes clear. However, if those in similar roles were hired based on culture fit, an employee referral, or some other intangible quality, setting a goal becomes more difficult. Regardless, there is always something job seekers can do to better themselves in order to improve their knowledge and skills and gain an advantage over their competitors. It’s up to them to find out what that is, then act on it.
    Refocus Your Efforts
    One of the opportunities a job rejection provides is the chance to reassess goals and refocus efforts. As mentioned earlier, the reason for rejection may be due to a lack of qualifications or experience, or the reason may be beyond the candidate’s control and it will take several applications and interviews to land a role that is a good fit. However, if a pattern of rejection persists, there may be a disconnect between the candidate’s abilities and his or her goals. Unfortunately, not every goal is accomplishable by everyone, and after multiple rejections, a reassessment may be needed to determine if the candidate’s career aspirations align with his or her strengths and skill set. Job seekers shouldn’t be afraid to ask for advice from a manager, mentor, or career counselor in order to ensure their career goals are realistic and achievable.
    A job search can be a long and difficult process, and the outcome often depends upon trial, error, and persistence. Frustration is only natural, particularly in a tough job market, and job seekers often receive advice from well-meaning friends and associates to stay positive and not give up. But persistence only pays off if goals are in alignment with abilities and there’s an actionable plan to achieve them. Employers look to hire employees who seek feedback and take direction in order to improve. Similarly, job seekers should consider rejections as learning opportunities, allowing them to refocus their goals and fine-tune their search. By turning the negative into a positive, candidates can increase their chances of landing an offer, as well as their opportunity for future job satisfaction and success.
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    Working to Learn Must Underpin the Future of Work

    Technological innovations have helped humans separate industrial ages and define periods of time throughout history, thanks to their transformative effect on people’s lives. From the rise of industry to the dawn of the internet, innovation has provided regular timestamps which we have used to define eras. But categorizing history in this way assumes innovation and major socio-economic developments occur simultaneously. In reality, the time difference between the two can be vast.
    For example, business models that have characterized work since the outset of the First Industrial Revolution in the late 18th Century can still be seen in otherwise modern workplaces. Organizations often still view work by the ‘input/output’ model established more than a century ago, measuring employees by their cost (input) and value (output).
    Despite drastic changes to work over the past 100 years, this model has remained largely unchanged. As innovation continues apace and working practices rapidly evolve, how much longer can we measure humans based on input and output?
    Prioritizing agility and adaptability
    More recently, workers have begun to reject the idea of the input/output model by mastering a specific skill set and becoming an expert in a particular field, decreasing costs and increasing value for businesses. Developing this concentrated expertise made sense when demand for skills lasted at least as long as a person’s career, but the constant and accelerating change of the 21st-century workplace means this is no longer the case. Now, due to the relentless pace of innovation, demand cycles for certain skills, or even specific job roles, can rise and fall within the space of a few years. We can only expect these timeframes to get shorter in the future, too.
    As a result, agility and adaptability are superseding specialization as the most valuable qualities for workers to exhibit. Organizations must shift their perception of workers so they are no longer viewed as ‘assets’ with an inherent cost and value, and are instead viewed as part of a humanistic approach predicated on constant development.
    Putting learning and development at the heart of work
    Traditionally, people began their careers with little experience and knowledge, joining a business to grow industry-specific skills and progress upwards by mastering one role. Today, we’re seeing a shift away from simply ‘learning to work’, as modern generations must now incorporate a ‘working to learn approach’. Where individuals could once expect to obtain a job for life and hone a specific skill set for the duration of their career, modern workers must continue the learning process. The speed of technological change means the next workplace disruptor is always right around the corner. To embrace the challenges and opportunities that innovation presents, employees should view their skillset as an ever-evolving toolbox – one that adapts to new demands and expands in accordance to change.
    Replacing expertise at work
    It’s not just the responsibility of the employee to adapt to new workplace demands. Business must also alter their approach by no longer prioritizing and rewarding specific expertise. Instead, employers should recognize that the needs of the business could shift at any moment, and acknowledge the value in rewarding and celebrating employee adaptability. Fortunately, tools exist that can assist businesses in this process by helping them identify which skills will be more in-demand in the future. This allows employers to focus their efforts on reskilling employees and augmenting their existing skillets to meet anticipated future demands.
    Hiring practices must also change too. Businesses must cultivate workforces that are open to – and actively embrace – learning and development. The ability to learn and develop new skills not only helps employees in retaining their roles but also presents a more cost-effective approach by reducing the time and monetary investments needed to recruit new employees. By prioritizing adaptability, businesses can be confident in their ability to deliver a workforce that is fit for the present, and the future.
    By James McLeod, VP of EMEA, Faethm.
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    4 Ways Employers Can Better Support Their Working Parents

    For many of us, the pandemic brought with it a number of changes (and challenges) in the way we work. Notably, working parents probably suffered the most under the weight of additional pressures. Alongside the dual responsibility of childcare responsibilities and their job, they experienced incredibly long hours and, in some instances, managed under an employer who didn’t know how to support them through this new situation. As recruiters, we may have heard stories from our clients about how difficult it was to navigate this time with their working parents.
    In March 2021, we hosted a webinar to give clients guidance on this exact topic – to help them learn how to incorporate parent-friendly policies and practices moving forward. The three speakers on the day – Joeli Brearley from Pregnant Then Screwed, Ursula Tavender from Mumbelievable, and Cat Harris from Brandwatch – offered their insight into how businesses can best move forward in supporting their working parents.
    Putting aside the ethical reasons, supporting working parents makes good business sense. In 2016, a study found that businesses in the UK lost £278 million a year through pregnancy and maternity discrimination in recruitment and training costs. Additionally, supporting working parents ultimately creates a more diverse workforce, a key objective high on the agenda for many business leaders. Below, we highlight four key points shared during the session, so you can better support your clients who want to make a positive change.
    Start by asking parents what they need
    While there are many helpful initiatives available to employers, they can be costly and may not work for every business. Cat recommends starting with asking working parents what would make their circumstances easier. Whether your client’s business has five or 500 employees, working parents should be encouraged to come up with a plan to propose to management as a first step. While it’s unlikely every suggestion will be implemented, your clients will then have a better understanding of how they can improve their workers’ situations.
    Tackle presenteeism
    Presenteeism is one of the key challenges for businesses and their working parents, and it has only worsened over the past 12 months. According to Joeli, workers are now logging on for 11 hours a day on average (up from nine hours pre-pandemic). While this may be due to staff working during what would have traditionally been their commute, they may also feel increased pressure to work harder from home.
    This is going to have serious repercussions on the overall mental health and wellness of staff, especially parents who may be working late into the night after their children have gone to bed. As a recruiter, you can encourage your clients to adopt flexible working policies, allowing parents to manage their workday in a way that suits them. Alongside this, workloads should be communicated so they can be better managed, preventing burnout.
    Introduce policies, supported by human practices
    Our speakers highlighted a number of initiatives and policies that businesses can introduce to better support working parents. These included:

    Enhanced maternity/paternity leave
    Parent-buddy groups
    External speakers
    Subscriptions to services like meditation apps
    Unstructured time with leaders
    Resilience workshops
    Flexible working arrangements, specific to teams.

    The above list is not extensive but contains fantastic options for those who have the capability to introduce new initiatives. However, any new policy needs to be supported by leadership in order to be successful. As Ursula said: “we’ve been united by the humanity of the situation”. Business leaders need to be empathetic and understanding to the individual struggles of their workers. It could be as simple as your client allowing an employee to start later in the day if they know they’ve been up all night with their child. This openness will, in turn, encourage vulnerability from staff, ensuring a better relationship between employee and employer.
    Make a change outside the workplace
    Your clients’ working parents rely on childcare that, as Joeli pointed out, is substandard in the UK. In fact, due to accessibility issues, 870,000 mothers stayed home to care for their children before the pandemic. If parents had better childcare options, your clients could tap into that incredibly large pool of talent. Your clients can make a difference by contacting their local MP to ask for better childcare or joining forces with charities (like Pregnant Then Screwed), who campaign on behalf of working mothers.
    Ultimately, your clients have a choice: to act with humanity and do what they can to support working parents or risk losing their investment in talent. We believe it’s an easy choice, and we hope to see many more firms incorporating family-friendly policies and practices into their strategies moving forward.
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    A Wake-Up Call: Tackling the Employee Insomnia Crisis

    When COVID-19 struck this time last year, most employees were forced to work from home. One of the results of enforced remote working is the rise in the number of people experiencing insomnia. One in four people reported sleepless nights and Google searches for the word “insomnia” surged significantly, with searches peaking most often during the early hours at 3am.
    Whilst COVID restrictions may be lessening, a natural return to healthy, regular sleep-wake cycles is not guaranteed in a new hybrid work environment.  In this article, I discuss the future of sleep in a post-pandemic workplace and why employers need to provide workplace support for better sleep.
    ‘Coronasomnia’ – why the nation is having trouble sleeping.
    The pandemic and social isolation have unsettled daily routines that usually serve as timekeepers for our natural body clocks. Keeping track of the time, and even the day, can be difficult without our usual time “anchors” like driving to the office, going to the gym after work, or picking up children from school.
    Research shows it can take four days to fully recover from just one hour of lost sleep. So, if we are ‘missing’ the recommended 7-9 hours, over time, a sleep deficit is caused. This makes it difficult to catch up on sleep and enhances the chances of sleep deprivation symptoms.
    Uncertainty also plays a significant part in affecting sleep, as it often causes anxiety that unsettles sleep as a racing mind keeps the body tossing and turning.  When will I get my vaccine? When can I travel or see my family? How long will lockdowns last? So much was (and still is) unknown.
    The impact of sleep deprivation on employee productivity and physical and emotional health
    Continuous poor sleep has a major impact on employee productivity with it estimated to cost the UK economy £37bn a year. Studies show that sleep deprivation leads to poor concentration and slower reaction times, which can lead to accidents and costly errors. From an emotional health viewpoint, lack of sleep results in higher levels of stress hormones in our bodies which, in turn, can increase feelings of anxiety, anger, and depression.
    Even if you receive enough sleep at night, if that sleep is of poor quality it can leave you feeling tired and unmotivated in the morning with decreased energy and concentration. 1-2 poor days of sleep per week increases the risk of employee absence by 171 percent.
    Physical symptoms of long-term sleep deprivation can manifest in a weakened immune system, causing regular infections and colds. Without adequate sleep, your body makes fewer cytokines, a type of protein that targets infection and inflammation, effectively reducing the body’s immune response.
    Long-term sleep deprivation is also associated with more serious health problems like increased risks of certain cancers, heart disease, ulcers, and gastrointestinal issues.
    Will we sleep better in a ‘hybrid work environment?”
    Even as restrictions begin to ease, staff sleep patterns may not return to normal as more companies consider a ‘hybrid’ work environment. Many businesses already have a flexible working policy, but some will embrace a permanent blended’ working model, with employees continuing to work from home a few days a week.
    Although emotions such as anxiety and uncertainly may reduce, which could have a positive impact on sleep, if more employees continue to work from home, some permanent factors may continue to negatively affect sleep.
    For remote workers there is the ongoing risk of ‘leavism’, being unable to switch off or catching up on work outside of contractual working hours. This blurring of home-work boundaries can contaminate our sleep environment. For example, the bedroom doubling up as a workspace may become the norm, as more employees participate in ‘bedmin’ (finishing admin tasks while in bed).
    Supporting the future of employee sleep
    Employers can lessen some of the health and business risks associated with pandemic sleep disruption by making practical changes to employee work schedules. Avoid scheduling too many early calls and virtual meetings and frequently rotating shifts. For those who work night shifts, if they are rotating, do so in a forward rotation (morning, evening, night).
    Set expectations regarding working hours and consider the benefits of setting up an official sleep policy for your organization. Provide virtual talks and invite health experts to discuss the impact of poor sleep and how to support those experiencing sleep difficulties. For example, you could run a seminar on how exercise or management of unhelpful thinking can have a positive impact on sleep quality.
    Employers might also consider offering staff cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Whether someone already had chronic insomnia or it’s a recent onset from the pandemic, it’s a treatment that is evidence-based and has proven to be successful for a range of wellbeing difficulties including sleep.
    Providing whole of workforce education and self-help resources specifically for sleep (such as an online digital platform), will create an open dialogue around sleep concerns. This facilitates the development of effective support plans and will enable staff and managers to be aware of the benefits of setting healthy boundaries for a better work-life balance.
    By Gosia Bowling, Emotional Wellbeing Enhancement and Prevention Lead, Nuffield Health.
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    Nudging the Way to Better Employee Wellbeing and Productivity

    As organizations face the prospect of offices reopening and start planning for the adoption of a hybrid (remote/ in-office) work environment, Richard Gregory, Senior Director at Avanade considers how ‘Nudge’ theory can empower employees to be the best they can be.
    For some time, organizations have known that they have needed to be more data-led and insights-driven, however, the biggest challenge is how to turn that into actions that will help move forward an organization at the pace and scale that it wants to operate at.
    Satya Nadella famously said last year, “We have seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months.” But many businesses were slow to change. As Covid-19 lockdowns were enforced across the globe and remote working took over, productivity took a dip as employees got to grips with a new way of working.
    It is here that Nudge theory can really help. Humans are inherently known to be averse to change, but through combining data and AI with behavioral science, organizations have the ability to ‘nudge’ employees to adopt certain practices that can help them achieve their goals faster.
    You cannot assume employees will embrace a hybrid environment
    We learned from the last year that it took around nine months for some employees to adapt to full-time remote working and a lot of people are still not fully productive in this environment. As such, we cannot assume that as the outlook remains positive, employees will be comfortable transitioning back to the office or to a hybrid way of working. What organizations need to realize is that unless you teach people how to work in a new environment and help them change their working practices to suit, many will never regain the same level of productivity. This is where Nudge theory becomes so critical because it is about helping employees subtly change their behavior. We don’t want people to go back into the office to collaborate like they always have done, organisations have a responsibility to take their employees on a journey of adapting to a new way of working.
    By combining a Nudge theory platform with tools that are used day-to-day, like Microsoft Outlook, Viva, and Teams, employees will not feel pressured and their wellbeing will be maintained. In the same way, a smartwatch encourages users to stand up after a period of inactivity – employees can benefit from fewer distractions and get personalized ‘nudges’ at the right moments, encouraging them to make small changes that can help improve their working behavior in the long term. Simple examples include automatic prompts to not send emails out of a person’s office hours, or booking focus time in employee’s calendars alerts to encourage more breaks, or booking time off for learning or exercise, known to help decrease stress levels. Nudge theory can help foster a more positive work culture for a global remote workforce and we, at Avanade, are already seeing improved employee productivity and resilience.
    Nudge theory combined with smart-space technology can boost innovation
    One of the noticeable impacts of the past year was that innovation was being impaired through the lack of those water-cooler moments with people outside of a team that sparks new ideas and thinking. While people are hoping to eventually return to the office, in many cases this will be a phased approach and those serendipitous meetings in the kitchen may still not return as many companies adopt a hybrid working environment with employees only in the office a few days a week or when there is a specific need. Without the knowledge of when people may be in office, colleagues still may not see each other for weeks or months. Nudge theory can, once again, help with this. The Nudge Platform can alert when work connections are in the office at the same time, also if people are scheduled to meet virtually but all are physically in the office, the Nudge Platform can automatically book an appropriate-sized meeting room. Going forward, we expect to see new office campuses and designs being created to encourage people to work better in this hybrid environment with Nudge theory incorporated.
    This is not about micro-managing employees
    However, a big challenge is to ensure that this technology is not used to ‘spy’ on employees. In the case of Avanade’s Nudge Theory Platform, the ethics behind the use of behavioral science has been thought about from the start, whether that be around data privacy or the approach taken to determine which behavioral traits to encourage. We passionately believe employees want to be the best they can be. Nudges are about removing the noise, reinforcing the right behaviors, and ultimately giving employees reminders at the right time and in the context of their work – without it becoming a “nag” platform. Ultimately this comes back to the values of the organization and the technology being used in the right way, for the right purpose, and with the right intent, which shouldn’t be a concern for leading organizations.
    Nudge Theory-based solutions have the potential to transform the behaviors across a whole organization. From improving sales capability, resilience, or even improving leadership or manager effectiveness post-training. Each employee is unique, and by utilizing the power of AI these solutions can be hyper-personalized to help every individual be the best they can be.
    By Richard Gregory, Senior Director at Avanade.
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