Office vs home – how technology can prevent employee divide

Technology – love it or loathe it, there can be no question that it’s enabled the world of work to continue with some sense of normality over the course of the pandemic.

Technology has been credited for helping make the transition from office to homeworking as seamless as possible, allowing for simple communication and work among team members through instant messaging, video calls and more. However, it hasn’t all been positive, with many worrying that technology encourages an always on work culture where it’s never too late to send an email. 

As we move away from pandemic restrictions and into a new world, technology needs to create a new role for itself too. With hybrid working becoming the norm, technology must become the bridge between office and home to ensure this new work format is successful and to reduce any locational divides that could arise.

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While some people have settled into working remotely, many haven’t.

Burnout has risen and remote working can restrict learning opportunities for younger members of staff, with more junior members of the team having fewer opportunities to collaborate and discuss with senior peers or observe how senior colleagues handle tasks and problem solve.

There may also be fewer formalised training opportunities compared to pre-Covid too.

These findings show that remote working works for some but not for others and that ultimately a hybrid working model is best to help mitigate these issues, where people can spend time both in the office and at home.

However, divides can start to form when half the team is always physically together, and the other half are working from home, and businesses must prepare to mitigate this and ensure teams stay united.

With this change to hybrid working, HR needs to use data and analytics to understand employee engagement and culture across the business, and to ensure teams remain connected and can work effectively.

Employee engagement technology helps HR professionals monitor the overall culture and morale of the business in real time, and implement changes needed to improve things in the moment, rather than waiting for a quarterly pulse survey or until a small issue has escalated into a major problem.

Likewise, professional social media or workplace culture apps can also ensure employees are united.

Apps are less formal and create inclusive environments that allow people to engage and interact with each other in a social way, rather than just focusing on their day-to-day work.

For example, people can ‘like’ photos of someone’s work from home set up or someone can write a post asking for restaurant recommendations around the office.

Everyone, regardless of where they are located, can answer and get involved helping to reduce employee divides. Likewise, it gives more junior team members access and insight into managers’ and leaderships’ lives, breaking down perceived hierarchies or barriers to getting to know those more senior team members.

Alongside engagement technology and professional social media apps, HR leaders also need to remind managers to keep contact with team members throughout the day.

Some people that are working in the office may have face-to-face meetings about a work task with peers, and then forget to relay that information to remote members of the team, leading to employee divides or people missing key information about the work they need to do.

It’s crucial that managers set expectations for how work is managed and ensure communication throughout the day with the whole team to avoid problems surfacing or work being forgotten.

The post-pandemic world is going to look different. While no one quite knows how different, remote working will be a staple in it. Whether some work fully from home or split their time between home and the office, companies need to use technology and data analysis to ensure employees remain an effective team and that cliques don’t start to form.

Marcus Thornley is CEO of Totem