Over the last few years, organisations have had to look inwards and refresh their workplace policies. There has been significant debate on the best approach to balance in-office collaboration while also supporting employee preferences to work flexibly in the way that they work best. With the continued need to harness the right talent and offer the work flexibility they require, perhaps it’s time your hybrid work policy is reimagined?
Changing ways of working
Today, offering flexible work policies go beyond just enabling access to collaboration software and flexible work hours. It encompasses a range of other benefits like choosing where you work, how you work, and when you work. Employee expectations have shifted to require the flexibility to design their own work lives and they’re looking for employers who can empower them to do this.
A truly people-centric workplace understands the needs of its employees and pre-empts the needs of prospective talent. Companies that want to retain and attract the best talent need to enable a fresh approach to hybrid work, going beyond traditional ‘post-pandemic’ measures like working from the office two or three days a week.
A move away from cities
In 2021, Australian capital cities lost a total of 11,800 residents due to people moving further away from CBDs, and this post-pandemic trend continues. Furthermore, recent Regional Movers Index data reveals that movement from cities to regional areas doubled last year across 13 regional government areas.
Most businesses tend to have their HQs in the CBD or surrounding inner-city suburbs. While many organisations are encouraging, or even mandating, a return to the office, for suburban and regional residents, this means spending more time commuting and money on fuel costs.
Arguably as a response to this, we’re seeing some businesses, including our own team at Telstra, support workers through investing in workplace hubs outside CBDs. C-suites are cognisant their workforce is more dispersed than it used to be, but still want to ensure there are opportunities to collaborate beyond the traditional means of a CBD office.
Collaboration front and centre
The fundamental benefit of leaning on local work hubs as a solution is to foster collaboration and connection. By creating an office closer to your employees’ homes, you’re essentially bringing the hub to the talent rather than relying on the CBD as your only physical meeting point for collaboration.
Different work environments can suit different tasks – for example, tasks that require uninterrupted focus can be more productive at home, while collaborating and brainstorming with your team can be more effective in an office environment. Considering how you can offer both sides of the hybrid work equation to your employees, closer to where they are, is paramount.
Underpinned by digital tools
As a global technology services company, Telstra Purple can help businesses optimise their digital transformation strategies to create ’local work hubs’, arming them with the right digital capabilities across cloud, cybersecurity, network, and collaboration to build effective, secure and flexible workplace solutions.
While a local work hub offers in-person connection and the associated collaboration benefits, it’s imperative the right digital and network capabilities are also in place to securely connect the hubs with the company’s wider business network and ensure continuity no matter where employees connect.
Businesses need to consider the purpose of local hubs, the value it brings to their business and employees, and what they need to make it a success. Organisations should be both data-driven and human-centric in their approach, ensuring the spaces are located and designed in a way that supports their employees to do their best work.
Implemented correctly, a local work hub should be secure, accessible, promote productivity and empower employee flexibility.
Leading by example
In addition to helping organisations enable their own approach to flexible working, at Telstra we have recently implemented new hubs in Western Sydney and Salisbury, SA, enabling our employees to collaborate and work away from our CBD offices.
Above all, we strongly believe the key to a successful hybrid policy is encouraging a culture of trust and autonomy, setting clear goals and objectives, whilst also empowering employees to manage their work, to deliver the best results.
One can never have a one-size-fits-all approach to hybrid work. Whatever your approach, you must continue to keep your people at the centre of all your policies.