Office or home? For many organisations this will be a critical choice as restrictions start to lift in some markets.
One of the defining features of the pandemic has been the sudden shift to home-working. Organisations worldwide created a new working framework to enable employees to remain productive without having to be in the office. And it was broadly successful. Not only did most organisations continue to operate despite lockdowns and other restrictions, but research indicates that employees were often more productive at home than in the office.
For example, a global? workforce responsiveness survey by the analyst firm Gartner last year found that 48% of fully remote workers exhibited ‘high discretionary effort’, compared to 35% of those who never worked remotely. The same research, undertaken among more than 5,000 workers, also found that 41% of fully remote workers showed ‘high enterprise contribution’, versus 24% for their office-based colleagues.
Such studies confirmed that home-based employees tended to work harder than those in the office. In some cases, we saw people working too hard, logging in around the clock, forcing many HR leaders to create new policies around when their workforce should be available and when they shouldn’t.
This experience has taught us that we can get more out of employees, save money on facilities and travel, while also improving job satisfaction. In fact, our recent 360 Well-being survey revealed the vast majority of people would prefer to work in the office no more than half the time in the future.
However, we know this isn’t a ‘cure all’. On-boarding new staff, training the next generation of talent and building a shared culture can be much more difficult in a remote setting. Technology has helped but nothing has yet appeared which can equal the three-minute chat next the coffee machine or as you walk past someone’s desk.
The likely answer will be a hybrid – using the office for collaboration and home for deep work, away from distractions. However, that sets a challenge for HR leaders – how to ensure that staff are coping and keeping their stress in check outside of the office?
This is why we have created our new online StressWaves tool.
The artificially intelligent choice
StressWaves uses artificial intelligence to analyse an employee’s voice and tell them how stressed they are. It can give an accurate reading by simply listening for 90 seconds. Then, to help them to bring those stress levels down, we have created a range of tools and tips in our Stress Care hub.
The Stress Care hub uses our 360 approach to health and well-being, offering support across all aspects of health – from physical and mental well-being support, to advice on money management and how to support colleagues, family and friends. And, if your company is a Cigna member, you and your employees can also get in touch with our specialists for professional help.