Why organisations need to go beyond the C-suite to stay connected
The COVID-19 pandemic kept us geographically distant, but connected us in ways we could not have predicted before. Thanks to the advent of gigabit internet and video conferencing platforms, we’re in constant contact. But what does this mean for the workplace, and are these devices actually causing more of a disconnect? As our CEO, Dean Checkley, recently explored with HR Director, the answer lies not just in the C-suite, but in consulting the whole team.
If you missed the original article, catch up below.
The challenges facing the hybrid workplace
Post-pandemic remote working is both a blessing and a curse. Today, it is the norm for staff to spend some of their time at home and some in the office. We’re even seeing more organisations hiring international remote workers – a move which, according to some studies, has seen productivity increase by up to 72 per cent.
But we need to be realistic about making this sustainable. For example, can we accommodate the needs of workers who are in polar opposite time zones? Can we finish projects on-time when collaborating at such a long distance?
Then there are the tech considerations. In the telecoms sector, it’s natural to assume that we have access to the most cutting-edge tools available. But there are still considerations like local internet connections or even cyber security of remote devices.
Finally, and most importantly, we have to consider the people. Everybody’s productivity needs are different. For instance, just 27 per cent of Generation Zs would consider remote work full-time, compared to 49 percent of Millennials.
Each of these points to one common solution: a culture of connectedness that includes everybody, not just the C-suite.
How can the C-suite ensure everybody is connected?
While the strategic aims of the organisation go beyond the C-suite alone, the processes must start here. Managers need to employ a range of tactics to ensure fair working practices for everybody, remote or otherwise.
Keeping all stakeholders informed
When we think about engagement, we tend to limit this to internal employees alone. But there is a lot to be said for maintaining strong relationships with all stakeholders, including external partners.
This is particularly pertinent for the telecoms space. Right now, those working in altnet feel isolated and burdened by fiscal challenges. We need to ensure we’re maintaining contact with these partners and giving them the confidence that they are valued and supported. To share the burden and understanding of the challenges they face is imperative, if we are to succeed in achieving the aim of a Gigabit Britain.
Encourage face-to-face communications
While video conferencing tools have changed the workplace immeasurably, we cannot overlook good old-fashioned in-person contact. Despite being raised in the digital age, Generation Zs in particular value this. They may feel anxious to interrupt a video call for a quick request when they could have simply asked in person.
On the other hand, older generations are accustomed to watercooler chats, appreciating the benefits of direct, in-person communication. Generation Zs, having spent their formative years behind screens during a pandemic, now yearn for more meaningful in-person interactions. Therefore, it is crucial for teams of all ages and seniority levels to engage in open discussions about their working preferences and find a harmonious agreement that suits everyone’s needs.
Recognising that productivity and work preferences differ among individuals, regular face-to-face discussions with the team become indispensable. Some employees may thrive while working from home, while younger generations may find greater inspiration and productivity in the office setting. Finding the right balance between digital collaboration and in-person engagement is key to fostering a connected and engaged workforce.
Consider the strategic future of the organisation
The best organisations thrive with a strong culture. With the pandemic shaping our culture long-term, we need to think about what our strategic goals are. For example, do we have the financial resources to provide devices for remote workers, or can international remote staff fit with our project planning schedules?
Likewise, staff wellbeing should be the driver in any company culture. Are we listening to what everybody wants, and aligning this with our business values? Will a more remote workforce improve productivity and bottom lines?
Finally, we need to consider everybody’s opinions when making strategic decisions. A diverse workforce is a more productive one, helping us plan for the future with progressive ideas and objectives. Again, this is essential in the telecoms sector. As technology evolves and consumer demands shift, we need to consult every team member to get a broader idea of the future.
This results in a more connected workforce. Factoring in everybody’s opinion improves morale, helping staff feel valued and more dedicated to the organisation’s overall goals. We can achieve this with in-person catch-up meetings or regular one-on-ones, plus staff engagement feedback forms, for example.
Collaborate for competitive advantage
The suite of tools we have at our disposal has transformed workplace operations. Digital project management software, video conferencing and file sharing fosters collaboration – but it cannot work in isolation.
Recognising that the balance between physical presence and online presence needs to be measured and maintained in the new era of hybrid norm is key. Office spaces should no longer be deemed as a ‘place of work’, but more of a hub of connectedness — where colleagues come together and generate sporadic creativity, imparting knowledge and experience and sharing stories to create a culture of oneness.
Rather than leaving big decisions to the C-suite, we need to encourage an environment where everybody feels they can speak up. This can be via digital mediums, like the aforementioned tools, or in person. Most importantly, the C-suite should take these opinions on board and leverage them to make strategic decisions.
The ever-connected tech world should not leave us feeling disconnected. By combining face-to-face with digital transformation, we can promote an inclusive, future-proof culture. Growth starts with people – and the best workers feel empowered, engaged and valued.