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By Irene Martinez, HR Auditor, Top Employers Institute
By Irene Martinez, HR Auditor, Top Employers Institute

Changing the Game: New Rules at Work



If there is one topic on the agenda in all organisations, it is undoubtedly to need to design - and implement - a new working model. While it is a priority it is also the topic that raises the most questions amongst HR leaders and decision makers.

Hybrid, flexible, personalised, digital we are all familiar these terms. But as we incorporate these terms into our organisations strategic objectives, we continue to look around us at the most cutting-edge businesses, to find ideas that work, initiatives that inspire us, and of course, the right results.

To begin with, we seem to have the dilemma of number - what is the optimum percentage of time to work remotely? Data shows that since the emergence of the pandemic 80% of the companies certified as Top Employers worldwide have defined a work from home policy for their employees that clarifies this working model. It also shows that for 21% of Top Employers, employees are able to work remotely between 80% and 100% of the time. Moreover, if we expand this range, we see that in 35% of them it is possible to work remotely more than 50% of the time, usually depending on the job position.

A Model of Total Flexibility

The debate on the number of days of remote work is beginning to become obsolete. Looking at certified Top Employers, we can observe that the most advanced organisations are opting for a total flexibility-type model in their working policies. Flexibility means personalisation and it prioritises the employee’s ability to choose. More than half of Top Employers worldwide place decision-making power in the hands of the employee and promote a high degree of autonomy and flexibility since they are companies based on a culture of trust and responsibility.

Obviously, there are practical limitations or restrictions that prevent the application of full flexibility in certain jobs, but in that case, alternatives are offered to employees to allow them to make decisions about how to organise their work. It is a cultural approach, which far exceeds a model based on percentages of working from home time. Companies that have a culture of autonomy and flexibility have indicated that employee satisfaction is very high, with these organisations report a score of more than 9/10, and short-time working has been noticeably reduced. Now the focus is on monitoring whether mental and emotional well-being improves in the medium term.

Physical and Virtual Spaces for Collaboration

As organisations look to incorporate new ways of working to be successful, they will need to redesign the workspaces, both physical and virtual. Flexibility and collaboration are the concepts that inspire this new work environment. In newer offices, flexibility allows you to choose the workspace you need at that moment, with quiet rooms for work requiring concentration, as well as rooms for connecting, sharing, chatting informally, and taking a break - and, of course, rooms for working together as a team. If flexibility is the first key to this new work environment, the second is the plan for collaboration.

The plan to optimise and encourage collaborative work among employees should be embodied in the new design of the physical company facilities and should extend to virtual spaces. Doing this work in the virtual spaces is done to make it easier for people to connect, share ideas and work collaboratively. Tools such as Microsoft Teams, Google Suite, Slack, Trello, etc. are already part of our lives and are evolving rapidly, moving towards a more immersive experience which will undoubtedly arise in the years to come. Nine out of ten Top Employers design not only their virtual workspaces, but also their physical ones, to meet both needs - flexibility and personalisation, and collaboration. Moreover, companies have noted that the plans they have implemented are by no means definitive; these plans are constantly evolving because the needs of employees shape the setup of their workspaces. 

Initiatives for digital disconnection

Inevitably, in this new working environment, digital disconnection initiatives have emerged at an accelerated pace. 76% of companies certified as Top Employers explicitly discourage working extra hours and reinforce this particularly in the case of remote work. Half already have policies to discourage the use of email outside of established working hours, and it is a growing practice. Disconnection extends to the holidays, and a third of Top Employers have implemented a “do not disturb” policy during the holidays, and of course, paid leave for all. Alerts in the form of pop-up windows are already frequently displayed with an alert whenever any of the disconnection rules are about to be violated. This, by the way, is meant as a right, not an obligation. The goal is to significantly improve the well-being of employees, helping them to disconnect, freeing up time which can be used for personal care and enjoyment.

This reinvention of the working model generates new challenges; employers must learn to benefit from this new way of working while simultaneously limiting the risks involved. In the Top Employers Institute's World of Work Trends Report 2022, this phenomenon has been called “Taming the ‘Wild West’ of Work”, and is one of the three major trends that have had the greatest impact on the world of work this year. Human Resources managers are piloting this change to achieve a better world of work.

Download the World of Work Trends Report 2022