Poly Says Hybrid Working is the New Collaboration Imperative

Plantronics, Inc. (“Poly” – formerly Plantronics and Polycom) (NYSE: PLT), a global communications company that powers meaningful human connection and collaboration, today issued a new report that highlights a granular shift in focus from “place” to “purpose” of work as businesses respond to the COVID-19 crisis, redesign their operations and reinvent the way they work. Out of city co-working spaces, ergonomic at-home work setups and virtual water cooler moments – the effects of this pandemic will epitomize a new age of hybrid working.

Drawing on experts in the future of work, workspace design and psychology, the Poly report, Hybrid Working: Creating the “next normal” in work practices, spaces and culture, sets out the path to the “next normal,” where employees enjoy flexibility and choice, and businesses thrive through motivated, collaborative and productive teams.

“The ongoing pandemic has upended the way businesses operate in the region, with organizations forced to either adapt, or risk being left behind. Looking beyond the first phase of workplace transition to adopt Remote Working, we are now witnessing a shift towards a new way of work – Hybrid Working. Businesses that stand to thrive in this ‘next normal’ will be those who prioritize human connections and collaborations as they look to reinvent current work practices, spaces and culture for their employees,” said Pierre-Jean Châlon, Senior Vice President, Asia Pacific, Poly.

Post-lockdown working practices

Triggered by COVID-19, businesses have the opportunity to challenge convention and redefine what ‘work’ really means. Hybrid working will introduce:

  • New working patterns– new working policies that bring employees flexibility on when and where they work
  • Outcome-based working– taking the onus off the hours and location, to being productive and delivering results
  • Optimized investment– looking beyond the company office to create collaborative, technology-enabled personal workspaces anywhere

Tom Cheesewright, applied futurist and contributor to the Poly report, said: “Even before the pandemic, the nature of work was changing because the nature of business is changing. Today, few can claim that the technology is a barrier to changing practices, but the lockdown has highlighted the need for investment into the cultural and behavioral components of flexible work. The future is a flexible working environment that caters to the needs of all employees, giving them the most fulfilling work experience and in return allowing them to maximize the value they return to the organization.”

Hybrid working spaces

In the report, Sarah Susanka, architect and founder of Susanka Studios, also explores why creating the best environments for employees to be productive and collaborative will be vital to the new hybrid working era. Poly’s report sets out the following key global trends for hybrid working spaces that will emerge in 2020 and beyond:

  • Home offices will be given as much attention as the kitchen –ergonomically organized and crafted into places that inspire
  • A prevalence of co-working – organizations will invest in co-working spaces outside of cities to attract talent. Group collaboration and social connections with colleagues and others will lead to cross-fertilization of ideas and innovation
  • Cityscapes will change – Will we continue to see high-rise office buildings? The city as a structure will stay as apartment living means the city is integrated into people’s lives; restaurants are an extension of their kitchen and gyms their workout space.

Managing cultural change

Megan Reitz, professor of leadership and dialogue at Hult Ashridge Business School in CITY, believes that businesses need to ‘hardwire’ fundamental habits into their teams’ culture to bring hybrid working teams together and ensure employees can speak up. For teams to be agile, innovative, ethical and compassionate, Poly’s report says that work cultures need to be:

  • Inclusive diverse teams do better, but you must be able to harness and appreciate difference. 
  • Inquiring ‘one-size’ management doesn’t fit all. Employees will respond differently to hybrid working and managers must learn the skills to inquire, be curious and ask questions.
  • Purpose driven we are seeing a well-overdue widening of purpose and this focus on impact will serve as a compass in times of change and make for a more meaningful workplace.

Technology-enabled change

As organizations respond, redesign and reinvent their business models, technology will play a fundamental role in enabling the shift to hybrid working. “As teams become more disconnected physically and connected virtually, technology becomes the key that bridges communication between and across teams to optimize work efficiency and productivity,” says Châlon. “To stay ahead of the curve, businesses will need to respond, redesign and reinvent their practices and meet their challenges head on, adapting to whatever changes they face.”

The Poly report, Hybrid Working: Creating the “next normal” in work practices, spaces and culture, is available for download here. The infographic is available here.

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