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Technology can help remove distractions of hybrid working

In a world of work that has had to embrace remote or hybrid working, the million dollar question has been about maintaining productivity. How do you ensure a team continues to be healthy, motivated and achieving results? Andy Hawkes, of IIRSM partner Cardinus Risk Management, explores the role technology can play.

How to you maintain the interrelated aims of wellbeing and productivity in a hybrid working team?

To answer the question, our focus has sharpened on what distracts us? We all get distracted from a multitude of issues throughout any day from noise, being interrupted or being asked to carry out tasks that are not in the job description to musculoskeletal injuries, mental health issues or lack of sleep. These distractions can and will occur in the office or at home.

The office environment has been designed to be a controlled workplace whereas for many the home is not! When we’re at home, the distractions can come think and fast. Children, pets, deliveries at the front door and the neighbours’ loud music are among a seemingly endless list of things that distract us and ruin our flow. Throughout every day we have challenges and manage our resources with the hope they maintain balance. It is when resources are out of kilter with the challenges we start to see greater absenteeism and presenteeism eventually leading to exit from the company.

It is clear that one of the key challenges of the organisation employing a hybrid workforce is how to develop a deep understanding of what is distracting your team members in the new model.

To this end, Cardinus Risk Management has developed a new, data-driven employee productivity and wellbeing tool, Healthy Working Analytics, which can identify what's distracting your people from delivering their best work.

The initial findings has given us some valuable insights. Here is a taster of what we found:

  • In the Under 30s, we see significantly lower levels of self-reported productivity when compared to 40–59-year-olds. Initial data is indicating a 44% difference.
  • The self-reported productivity of workers with a dedicated room or office space is 85% higher than those working in a non-specific location such as the kitchen table or sofa. 
  • Overall, self-reported productivity of hybrid workers is 18% higher than office workers and 22% higher than pure homeworkers
  • Gender doesn’t appear to have any difference in productivity.
  • The top 5 “distractors” are
  1. Workload pressures
  2. Levels of energy
  3. Lack of sleep
  4. Excessive emails
  5. Levels of motivation
  • Financial pressures are causing higher levels of distraction in the under 30s when compared to the 40–59 age band
  • Working when feeling unwell ( presenteeism) is only 25th out of 52 distractions reported, whereas wellbeing distractors such as mood, stress and mental health concerns are ranked 12th, 14th and 17th

Over time, we will gather an increasingly sophisticated picture of the distractions employers and employees need to remove if productivity and wellbeing are to be maintained in hybrid working organisations.

In 2012, Dodge et al defined ‘wellbeing' in their PhD thesis as “the balance point between an individual’s resource pool and the challenges faced”. The rise of home and hybrid working has presented workers all over the world with a whole host of new challenges to face, including the increasingly blurred lines between where work life ends and home and family life begins. This, in turn, has had a knock-on effect on workforce wellbeing.

Our advice is that a small change can make a big difference.

For most businesses, a significant improvement in efficiency and wellbeing will come as a result of a number of small, incremental changes, as opposed to one big, single operational overhaul. 

When you next consider surveying your workers, think about everything you could need to uncover in order to make enough small changes to amount to an overall significant improvement in productivity. 

From there, you could convince the CEO and CFO to invest in a new wellbeing initiative, sit/stand desks or a mental health training programme. Of course, from this, you can also deliver hard data and statistics that measure and prove the productivity improvement as a result.

Technology such as Healthy Work Analytics can unlock this productivity by providing data-driven reports to help you make the right interventions, which will improve employee wellbeing, increase productivity, and reduce absenteeism/presenteeism. 

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